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Dan the Man's Movie Reviews

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

Tag Archives: William Sadler

Being Flynn (2012)

Happy that my dad has a roof over his head and isn’t a complete dick.

Aspiring writer Nick Flynn (Paul Dano) begins working at a homeless shelter and develops a drug problem he struggles to control. His father, Jonathan (Robert De Niro), is a con man who was never there for him as a child and still considers himself to be one of the greatest, living writers of all-time, despite never being published. Jonathan actually stumbles upon Nick one day at the homeless shelter and is need of a place to stay. But, as predicted, Jonathan finds problems with just about everything around him.

The problem with Being Flynn, right away, is that its whole idea of a joke is to have its character, Jonathan Flynn, narrate some of the movie and talk like he’s the greatest novelist of all-time and is a walking genius, even though nobody knows it. Problem is, he doesn’t know it. That idea of a joke can be a little humorous at times (because let’s face it, who doesn’t love to crack a couple of chuckles at older, Alzheimer-bound men), but it gets annoying and repetitive, as if the movie didn’t realize the butt of its own end joke was meant for the character, and not for the freakin’ movie itself.

But this turns out to be the whole movie. Just one long joke that nobody ever seems to get the hang of telling better.

Shirt by any chance? No? Nope, that's okay. Whatever suits you best.

Shirt by any chance? No? Nope, that’s okay. Whatever suits you best.

And this is a shame because the material for Being Flynn seems as if it has more to it than just being “a joke”. But what ultimately happens is that it just lingers and gives this Jonathan character another reason to yell, scream, and scam his way some more into people’s lives. I never, not for once, felt any ounce of sympathy for these characters and even when it seemed like they were going through problems as people of society, and of people going through age, I still never bought them.

There were some elements I did buy, like the fact that Nick does go down a bit of a rocky road with drugs and needs to change his life around to be a better person. But that’s about it. Other than all of Nick’s problems that could have pretty much been centered-down to, “Yeah, my dad left me when I was a baby, my mom raised me, slept with a bunch of dudes, and killed herself”, Jonathan’s problems seem to be a bit more scary in the way that the guy is homeless, the guy is out in the cold, and the guy is a bit of an over-zealous dick. That fear of him dying never hit me hard enough, just because he’s a, well, a dick.

As plain and simple as that.

I think I’ve exhausted everything there is to say about the character of Jonathan Flynn, but honestly, it deserves to be said because there’s not much more to this movie than him. Which is annoying because Paul Weitz can’t help but be utterly pleased to have him being a miserable and unlikable hack that doesn’t do anything else in his life other than bullshit his way past things with that signature De Niro smile, chuckle, and charm. And heck, thanks to De Niro, it almost works!

And De Niro is fine here, but he’s saddled with a character who is just too unpleasant to give a hoot about. That’s why it was nice to see Dano at least try with the likes of Nick, another unlikable and whiny character. Dano is known for his “big” performances, but here, he dials things down for us so that we get to see Nick as more of a sad, self-destructive human being, rather than somebody who is cool because he lives life like its constant party. In a way, he’s sort of a tool, but the movie never fully digs deep into that aspect of his character; it’s just left up to Dano to pick up the pieces and work from there.

She's like a dude, but she's not. So rad, man.

Short hair, don’t care.

This is a shame, too, because Dano and De Niro, together, playing a son-father duo, seems like it would be ripe with all sorts of powerful and raw emotion. And though Dano may have been more than happy to share the screen with De Niro, Weitz’s direction and script gets in the way too much. Somebody has to learn something, somebody has to grow up, and somebody has to bond. If it’s these two, then so be it.

This is all to say that, even though they’re both solid actresses in their own rights, Julianne Moore and Olivia Thirlby aren’t used as much as they could have been to help even this movie and its melodramatic self out. Moore is mostly designated to flashback scenes, whereas Thirlby’s character has to do a little bit of heavy-lifting, both literally and figuratively, as Nick’s gal-pal. But still, her character is then soon treated as being a female love-interest for Nick to hook up with, screw around on, break up with, try to get back together with, and eventually, have all of his dreams come true because he’s, well, “a better person now than he was before”.

Bunch of BS if I ever heard it!

Consensus: Though it has a solid cast and, on occasion, director, Being Flynn falls apart because it’s not only a bit too melodramatic for its own good, but conventional, self-serving, and too smart for its own good.

3 / 10

Staring at your child in admiration: such a mother's thing to do.

Staring at your child in admiration – whatta mother!

Photo’s Credit to: Thecia.Com.Au

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Machete Kills (2013)

CIA, step up your game and legalize this man! Along with weed, of course.

Machete (Danny Trejo) is back, and this time, it’s the U.S. President (Carlos Estevez)’s orders! Machete gets the order to get out deep in the deserts of Mexico, and stop a schizophrenic madman (Demián Bichir) from launching a deadly missile aimed at Washington, D.C., which may also run a bit deeper than just him and connect all the way back to the U.S., where rich billionaire Voz (Mel Gibson) may be partaking in some shady dealings as well. Shady dealings like, say, taking a trip to outer space. However, once people catch wind of this news that Machete is alive, well, and running all around, then somebody puts a bounty on his head, which many, many colorful and dangerous characters get involved with. Problem is, they don’t realize that Machete don’t text, don’t Tweet, and he sure as hell don’t die. Remember that.

Though I never got to reviewing it for you fine specimens, the first Machete kicked all tons of ass and was every bit as insane, as dumb, and as idiotic as I would have expected a Robert Rodriguez movie to be, and then some. Essentially, it was a one-joke movie, with a one-joke premise, but it never lost its steam and always continued to make me laugh, get grossed out (in a good, exploitative way that worked well with the material) and overall, just have a total and complete ball. It helped that that movie had a star-studded cast that continued to show more and more familiar faces as it went along, and it also helped that Rodriguez himself realized that he was making a piece of B-movie heaven, so of course he just had to run with it; with a bigger budget of course.

"Machete don't do blondes. But, there's always exceptions to certain rules."

“Machete don’t do blondes. But, there’s always exceptions to certain rules.”

However, what worked so well for me with that movie, seems to have suddenly run a bit dry here, even despite the bigger cast, the somewhat bigger budget, and the even bigger action scenes that Rodriguez really seemed to throw all of his time, money and effort into. For some reason, it never feels like it’s going for that one-joke and trying to spin it around as much as possible anymore; instead, the movie feels like it has almost way too much plot, way too many twists and way too much time spent on meaningless characters that obviously are around to show you how wacky the movie is, but ultimately, just take up precious time and space that could have been used more for people getting their heads chopped off. And yes, that’s the type of stuff I want to see more of in a Machete movie, because it’s done for the sole purpose that it’s absolutely ridiculous.

Here, it just seemed like Rodriguez had so many more ideas and subplots he wanted to play around with, and yet, couldn’t keep his curious hand away from showing them as much as attention as Machete should get. Because, let’s face it, this is Machete’s movie, this is his story and this is his time to shine. So, when you take that away from him and focus more on the meandering plots/characters of the movie that wouldn’t make a lick of difference to the whole shebang in the long run, then you’re robbing us, the audience, as well. People who want to see this want to see Machete do crazy stuff like spin around on a helicopter-blade and chop people’s heads off, or get banged by some of the sweetest honeys around. We don’t want to see a whole subplot that concerns a hitman taking off his disguise face, and putting on a real one, all of the time. And even if that subplot was to be shown, at least do it in less than a minute or so, only to not take away from Machete himself; aka, the character that makes this movie work, everytime they focus on him and whatever sick, sadistic and violent thing he does next.

There’s just so much fun to be had with this character, and it makes you wonder why somebody, especially some nut-job like Rodriguez would want to take that away from him. Give him to Quentin! He’ll set him straight, give him his cake, and allow him to eat it, too. But not just a piece, the WHOLE, FREAKIN’ THING.

But, no matter what, it cannot be denied that Danny Trejo is the heart and soul behind this character, and despite the reality of the matter that he’s older than most of the chiseled-out freaks from the Expendables movies, you still believe him as a wholly unbelievable character. Machete is a straight-man to all of the nonsense happening around him, and with that on his plate, Trejo owns the role and seems to never lose his comedic-timing. It’s obviously not as eventful to see Trejo in this role like it was the first time around, mainly due to the fact that he’s dipped his pen into a few no-budget movies in the years since, but it’s still awesome to see him play Machete, and do what he does best: Kill the fuck out of people.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

Damn you, puberty. Damn you to hell.

And while I do stand by what I said about Rodriguez centering too much of his attention on the supporters more so here than he did in the last film, it can’t be denied that each and every one of these big names are having the time of his/her life. Some peeps from the first are back like Tom Savini, Michelle Rodriguez, William Sadler, and Jessica Alba, in a role that probably gives her as much time on-screen as she does: No less than 5 minutes. Since she’s up on the screen for such a short time, she is ultimately replaced by Amber Heard playing an undercover agent, posing as Miss San Antonio and seems like she fits in quite well with Rodriguez crazed world of drug dealers, hookers, sadists, madmen billionaires, and total crazies.

And that’s just his dinner table at Thanksgiving! Woo-hoo! I got a million of ’em!

But no seriously, she fits in mighty fine, as well as plenty of other new, fresh faces like Sofia Vergara, Demián Bichir, in a very against-type that he rolls with and never loses the fun-factor, Lady Gaga, Cuba Gooding Jr., Vanessa Hudgens, and the best of them all, none other than Mr. Jew-hater himself, Mel Gibson. This is one of those cases where it seems like Mel is only taking what he can get at the moment, but if that is the case, then so be it, because every chance this guy gets to join in on the fun, he does, and with plenty of energy and pizzazz. He chews the scenery like nobody’s business, hasn’t seemed like he’s lost his comedic-timing in a million years, and mostly keeps the film afloat, even when it becomes too obvious that it’s gone absolutely everywhere it could have gone, and then some. And yes, I am talking about somewhere like space, but that is a different story and movie, for a different day.

Consensus: No doubt about it that Machete Kills will offer all of the same types of B-movie craziness and fun that the first one gave us, but a little bit more of scaling-back on its numerous strands of plot, character, and ideas, would have definitely helped this been a better time. Oh well, at least I got an autograph from Robert Rodriguez himself out of the deal. At least there is that.

7 / 10 = Rental!!

"Can't get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I'm sort of like Jesus. Ain't that right, JEWS?!?!?"

“Can’t get rid of me no matter how hard you try. I’m sort of like Jesus. Ain’t that right, JEWS?!?!?”

Photo’s Credit to: IMDBColliderJobloComingSoon.net

Iron Man 3 (2013)

At least he’s on the wagon now.

After the wild events that took place in New York with Gods of Thunders and worm-holes and such, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has found himself in a bit of a crisis. Not only is he constantly reminded of what occurred, but he can’t seem to get any sleep and continually works on his hobby: building and building shit. It doesn’t matter what it is or what it could do, the fact is that he’s building shit, losing sleep, losing the love of his life, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and losing what it means to be a superhero. However, an evil terrorist by the name of Mandarin (Ben Kingsley), might just change that feeling in the pit of his stomach and have him realize what it was about him that made him Iron Man in the first place.

Since the Avengers came, saw, and conquered the world last Summer, it seemed only right that Marvel would unleash it’s brand-new bag and go back to where it all started: Iron Man, or if you really want to be legit about it: Tony Stark. Without the first movie coming out in 2008 and taking over like it did, who knows just what the hell Marvel might have done not just with their fellow, other superheros, but in general as well. But from what we’ve all seen and what we do know is that Tony Stark is the go-to guy for when you need a compelling movie, and Iron Man is a pretty bad-ass superhero, even if he doesn’t have a big hammer. I still think that’s one of the all-time best weapons in superhero history. By far.

The first piece of curiosity that sprang through my mind when I initially heard of this movie happening, was the choice of Shane Black as director and co-writer. If you don’t know who this cat is, I suggest you go and find Kiss Kiss Bang Bang somewhere on DVD and check that out because it is a gem of a movie and it’s all because of Black. The guy’s also written Lethal Weapon, but in my eyes: his directorial-debut ranks supreme against all others because it’s funny, exciting, and filled to the brim with plot that may seem like over-kill, but keeps you guessing until the end. And just as promising as that may sound for a guy who’s about to tackle Iron Man, it still seemed strange considering that not only was this his second movie to date, but also that his first one had barely any CGI whatsoever, or action for that matter. Most of it was just shooting, guns, bullets, a car-crash, and fake blood. That was it. So, how the hell did Marvel trust this guy with their biggest money-maker to date?

"Sometimes, my left hand just have a life of it's own. I swear, Pepper...."

“Sometimes, my left hand just have a life of it’s own. I swear, Pepper….”

Well, whatever it was that the big guys at M found in him, sure as hell worked because Black does a superb job as both director, and co-writer. Not only is his humor present throughout the whole flick, but the guy also finds a way to throw in some neat and nice little twists here and there to spice things up. One plot-twist that I won’t give up unless you want to e-mail me about it (CMrok93@yahoo.com), really divided this movie into two, different ways. Some will definitely go along with it and think that it was a nice-departure from what we are used to seeing with typical, superhero movies, whereas others may be a bit pissed and wished that they exactly got that typical, superhero movie they had grown so accustomed to. I still haven’t been able to rack my brain around whether or not I liked it all that much, but I will say that in Black’s case, it sure as hell was risky, something different, and not exactly what I was expecting. So, yeah, maybe you could put me in that earlier-group of peeps, but at the same time, don’t, because I’m still not sure.

Just give me some damn time, man!

But what really worked for Black and what mainly surprised the hell out of me is how well he handles all of the action, CGI, and 3D (basically, the big-budget). Black knows exactly what the fans want to see when they see a superhero movie about Iron Man and that’s what the dude gives to ’em. Some may actually be surprised to see that not all of this action features the actual superhero, Iron Man, but features more of Stark doing all of the ass-kicking himself, but it’s still fun and exciting to see, especially when you add a darker-element of story-telling on top of it all, which is what Black has done surely well. Of course the humor is always there to keep people laughing and giggling, but the stakes feel higher with this one and it’s no surprise that some may actually be scared as to who’s going to get off’d next, who might not make it for Iron Man 4 (although Paltrow spilled the beans on that enchilada), and who’s going to come out victorious and with a little bit of something to brag about. It’s fun to watch a movie that knows how to keep the energy rolling without a real break in the pace, but it’s even better when you feel like the seconds you see a person on screen for, could just might as well be their last. Black keeps this going for quite some time, that is, until the last-half shows up and sort of ruins things.

For the most part, about an hour and a half in, I was on-board with this movie and I easily felt like I was working on a 9-9.5 here, but something happened. No, not the twist I was talking about earlier, but the final showdown that we all know is going to eventually come. Something, I don’t know what it was, just didn’t feel right. It didn’t feel as epic as the rest of the movie did and it sure as hell didn’t do much to really knock me out of my chair with it’s originality; something I was seeing from Black’s side of the room, more and more. Don’t get me mistaken, I still had a ball with this final-act and just about lost my hearing by how many clangs, booms, and bangs I continued to hear (that’s a good thing, by the way), but something didn’t make it feel like the movie was tied-up with a pretty, little bow at the end like all of the other superhero movies have lately. Even Iron Man 2 somehow decided to do that, and as we all know: that was nowhere near greatness.

However, I can’t put anything against this cast because as usual: they are all phenomenal, even the newbies too. But I’ll get to them later, let me stick with the man of the 2 hours, the man with the power, and the man who practically has it all: Robert Downey Jr. Everybody and their mothers (the coolio ones who didn’t give up on him when he got busted all of those years ago) know that Downey was made for this role and he continues to show us why with his egotistical act, look, and feel. Yet, there’s something more to this guy that makes him actually feel like a hero worth rooting for. Stark does make some stupey mistakes and gets caught-up in situations that he could have easily gotten himself out of if he just thought more, but he’s human, dammit! That’s what we do. And even if we don’t have a mansion, a billion dollar corporation, or a suit made of iron that can kick ass and speak like Paul Bettany, we still feel like this guy would do the right thing, if he was given a chance to make the decision as to what that exactly is. Downey is funny as usual, and probably a lot better with the script considering that he practically vouched for Black to get this job, but it’s his human-aspect within that makes this character tick, rock, and kick….some ass. See what I did there? Yeah, I’m all out of being witty for the night.

Always gotta tug on the suit-jacket to make sure you know how big pimpin' you truly are.

Always gotta tug on the suit-jacket to make sure you know how big pimpin’ you truly are.

Even if it seems like nobody in their right minds is willing to let all of the hate for Gwyneth Paltrow go, just for a little bit of time over 2 hours, at least the girl still shows us that she can act and be charming as hell. I don’t hate Paltrow like everybody else seems to, and that’s why I really liked her as Pepper Potts because it not only felt like her character really loved Tony and wanted him to be all fine and dandy once things were over with, but that she could also stick up for herself in the chance arose itself. Pepper isn’t the type of character that you could classify as a “damsel in distress” and that’s the route that Black turns away from and gives her more a chance to knock some people out, if she needs to. During this movie, she definitely does need to and that’s exactly what she does. Keep on going, Mrs. Coldplay!

Don Cheadle is here once again as Col. Rhodes (still thought Terrence Howard was better, but hey, that’s just me, baby) and does fine with what he’s given. Cheadle doesn’t have a huge role here but gets more to do than just pick up Tony’s scraps and make us feel like he’s more of a bad-ass too. Although, I will say that he does get to show us what makes him all bad-ass still. Oh, and before I forget about it all: Rebecca Hall is here as an old-fling of Tony’s and is good, even if her beauty and charm does seem a bit wasted on a character that is essentially around just to show how much of a chauvinistic a-hole Tony basically was back in the darker days before he fell in love with Pep. Still, the girl is mighty fine!

Now is the part where we go onto the baddies and this is where things begin to get a little dicey for me and you. See, Ben Kingsley and Guy Pearce both play some evil a-holes that definitely are not the breed you want to mess with, let alone see Tony mess with, but there’s more to them than just that and I can’t give away too much without sounding annoyingly-vague, or just giving it all up. Both do what they need to do as the baddies, especially Kingsley who actually terrified me at one point, but there are more layers to them and once you see what’s really going on with these cats, you might just be a bit surprised. I sure as hell was and once again: I still don’t know what to make of it. What I can say though, is that the movie does not, for a second, stray-away from giving these two guys plenty of scenery to chew on and that’s where all of the fun comes from. Because if you think about it: that’s all you need in a good villain, right?

Consensus: Starts off perfectly with a funny script, electric set-pieces, and a cast that never backs down from a script they can’t grapple, but Iron Man 3 ends more on a whimper, than on a bang. Which would have been all right and perfect with the world, had we not already see the Avengers and know what there is to expect with the Marvel Universe.

8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!

P.S. Stay for the credits. Even though you probably already knew that, didn’t you?

It's like Gandhi all-over-again, except Chinese.

It’s like Gandhi all-over-again, except Chinese.

The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

It doesn’t matter who you are, you love this damn film.

The film tells the story of Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins), a banker who spends nearly two decades in Shawshank State Prison for the murder of his wife and her lover despite his claims of innocence. During his time at the prison, he befriends a fellow inmate, Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding (Morgan Freeman), and finds himself protected by the guards after the warden begins using him in his money laundering operation.

Let me just say this, if you have not seen this film, stop reading and get out there to your local video store/Redbox/Netflix account/illegal movie download website and check this ditty out. Honestly, everybody loves it. Of course when people say that about anything, it usually means that it’s just their opinions and that about 2 people they know agree with them so they feel like hot shit but that’s not the case here at all. You could ask anyone their thoughts on this and I’ll bet they’ll all tell you the same thing: perfection.

The craziest thing about this flick is how this was writer/director Frank Darabont‘s first movie he ever made. That’s right people…..FIRST MOVIE HE EVER MADE! Darabont really deserves all the credit for this story and for this flick because he found a way to match all of Stephen King’s writing in such a perfect way that it made every line of dialogue, feel like a piece of art itself. When the film wants to be funny, it’s funny; when the film wants to be emotional, it’s emotional without ever being hokey; and whenever the film wants to find its own little sly ways of getting us more and more involved with this story, it does and never stops the whole time. All of the dialogue, if placed in a lesser hand, could have been written off as corny but Darabont and King work wonders together, and it’s no surprise that Darabont went after another King adaptation about 5 years later with The Green Mile. Oh yeah, and he’s the guy who also adapted The Walking Dead so that definitely earns some brownie points in my book.

I think what really makes me truly love this film the way that I do is that I have seen it about 5 times and not once does it ever get old. That’s the true sign of a good movie. Since you know everything that goes down in the end, you get the chance to look at everything once again and see all of the little hints and clues that this film throws at you, without you ever really knowing in the first place. It’s really cool how Darabont was able to throw these little things in there to have it all make sense in the end but still allows you to get something new out of the movie each and every time you watch it. The film is all about the human spirit and how we can all be free no matter where it is that we are at in our lives. These prisoners feel trapped but it’s all about how they can all break free from these walls without ever having to take a step over them. It’s a message that we have all seen done and talked about before, but for some reason, this film does it the best and really makes you want to just get out there and live like a free person anywhere you go.

At the center of this whole film though is the performances of everybody involved, especially those ones of Tim Robbins and Morgan Freeman. These guys were already big names before this film came out but I think it’s definitely the best performances of their careers by far, and if you have ever seen any of their other work you know that this is a very bold statement to make in the first place. Robbins is very mysterious and strange as Andy, but he’s also a very likable character that makes it easy to see why all of these guys take such a liking to him in the first place. We also see Andy as a free soul that wants to do anything in his power to do right for everyone around him and gets even better and better once you start to see just how smarter he is than he lets on. It’s such a shame that he didn’t get nominated for an Oscar here because he really brings a whole lot to Andy. Morgan Freeman is also the perfect choice as Red. Red is our narrator for the whole movie and shows us a look at everything that’s going on with Andy from the outside-in and it just works because you feel a huge deal of warmth and comfort from this character that it really shows as one of Freeman’s signatures when it comes to him playing in any role. I heard that Darabont chose Freeman over such legends like Clint Eastwood, Harrison Ford, Paul Newman, and Robert Redford, and to be honest, I couldn’t see any of them playing the part as perfectly as Freeman does here.

What made this film work the way it does on me is the friendship these two create together. Red sees something in Andy that he never expected in the first place and from then on, we see two people who are both struggling for freedom in a place where all hope is lost, gain some sort of hope together. What I’m describing right now may sound a bit too much like a mixture between Brokeback Mountain and Cool Hand Luke, but it’s honestly the best aspect of this whole movie because you see this friendship blossom over time and you see how they each look out for one another in every single situation they have. By the end, everything they have together starts to come in full circle and that’s where I actually started to tear up a bit because this is where the film’s message comes around and it’s also where you notice that these two guys were meant to best buds and live free after all.

Consensus: The Shawshank Redemption is just one of those perfect movies that seems to have it all: great writing, great direction, amazing performances, a message that is meant to inspire anybody who watches this, and so much more to it. Basically if you are reading the end of this review and have still not checked this one out, then get off your butts and do so. I promise you will not be let-down in the least bit.

10/10=Love and Cherish Forever!!