Archive for movie

Any Given Sunday (1999)

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on December 14, 2012 by Parker Connell

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      Any Given Sunday is a god damn mess. Think of every sports movie cliche, now pump those with human growth hormone and mountain dew, if you make that take too much crank you’ve got Any Given Sunday. Oliver Stone’s attempt to tell the story of the wild world of pro-football is an over-the-top, badly edited, poorly written cluster-fuck of a film.
    Stone has never been known for making subtle films but Any Given Sunday is as unsubtle as film gets, at least Natural Born Killers has the semi-excuse of being an attack on subtlety. The movie starts in the middle of a game and in the opening 10 minutes alone we are assaulted with rapid-fire edits, cartoon sound effects, weird fades, pointless blur effects, also Matthew Modine being underutilized as usual. It was stressful and incredibly difficult to watch, it felt almost like having a panic attack except I’ve never had Pacino yell at me during a panic attack, and it never lets up for the rest of the movie.
    Speaking of Mr. Pacino I actually do like him in this. He is in full blown Shouting Pacino mode but Any Given Sunday is one of the few instances where this method of acting works because the rest of the film is in full on shouting overdrive, any kind of acting subtlety doesn’t even read which is probably why Cameron Diaz isn’t completely awful and why Aaron Eckhart is totally forgettable.
    Stone also continues his trend of giving James Woods one scene where he gets to just totally put everyone else to shame. Good for you Mr. Woods I hope you live forever.
    The closest thing to a theme this movie has is the always boring ‘old versus new’. Al Pacino is an old school coach, a thirty year veteran of the game and he’s being pushed around by the new school, Cameron Diaz is the owner of the team and she wants to run the team based on money and stats and all the other things that aren’t “Heart and Gumption and Wanting It The Most” and Jamie Foxx is the hot shot new guy who has his own ideas about football, and also racial issues but those speeches are badly written. Part of me thinks Stone is siding with Pacino in this regard, in ’99 Stone had already been making movies for almost 30 years and he probably had a lot to say about young guys edging in on his territory. However, Any Given Sunday is like a bad interpretation of what young people want, maybe that’s the point and Stone purposefully made a bad movie to prove that what young people is shitty… but I doubt it.

    Schizophrenic editing that is akin to a panic attack, blunt, boring, cliche writing (probably the worst writing Stone has done since Scarface), it features the only recurring puke gag in film history that I don’t like, oh and it’s two and a half hours long, there is very little to like about Any Given Sunday.

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The Girlfriend Experience & Full Frontal

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 9, 2011 by Parker Connell

Soderweek continues for me with The Girlfriend Experience and Full Frontal. Both films could (and should) be considered lesser Soderbergh films due to their loose storytelling and their short run times. Neither of those are bad things,especially the short run times which made it much easier to get through them. These are two essentially Soderbergh experiments and as such they are successes.

Both GFE and Full Frontal are short slice of life yarns about people in some kind of entertainment industry. GFE is a drama about a really high-class prostitute (played by Sasha Grey) and Full Frontal is a comedy about people in and around Hollywood.

The Girlfriend Experience wasn’t as good as Full Frontal simply because I didn’t care about any other character outside of Sasha Grey’s girlfriend for money Christine. Pretty much every character is a super rich business type and since the film is set on the cusp of the economic crisis and the 2008 presidential election all they do is complain about money and who would be better for there money.

Full Frontal was better to me because the cast was pretty great and I’m just more interested in th film industry than I am prostitution, especially the kind of prostitution that costs over 2 grand a date and has no dependence on crack. Probably the most entertaining part of Full Frontal for me was Blair Underwood and Julia Roberts starring in a romantic comedy within the film and then Blair Underwood’s character starring in a David Fincher film within the romantic comedy (complete with cameo from both Fincher and Brad Pitt). It was funny, and it actually kind of hurt my brain. Also the sub plot about the always great Enrico Colantoni putting on a weirdly pretentious play about Hitler starring the equally as great Nicki Katt was laugh out loud funny.

All in all both films succeeded in their own ways, The Girlfriend Experience was very nice to look at but ultimately hollow, and Full Frontal was ugly as sin but had some interesting things to say about creative people, but honestly I don’t think I’d ever like to watch them again.

Solaris

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , on February 8, 2011 by Parker Connell

I am starting a new tradition for movie fans. I think of it a bit like a pilgrimage one might make if they were religious, you know if your religion was based around good movies, which mine is. This filmgrimage is called Soderweek and this is how you go about accomplishing it. For seven days you must watch as many Steven Soderbergh films as you can. They don’t have to be the only movies you watch, but they should make up the majority of them for those seven days. The other rule of Soderweek is that you must watch at least 2 Steven Soderbergh films that you have never seen before. If for some reason you have already seen all of Steven Soderbergh’s films (which I find unlikely unless you are in fact Steven Soderbergh, in which case hello Mr. Soderbergh I really enjoyed The Informant, and I hope those rumors about you retiring soon are false.) you have to get a friend (or enemy) to watch 2 Soderbergh films with you that they have not seen. The most exciting part about Soderweek, like any religious pilgrimage, is that it is a wholly personal experience; you choose the week when you will do it. It is written that you must complete at least one Soderweek in your lifetime but it is recommended by the Elder Gods that you make as many Soderweek pilgrimages as possibly. I have chosen the week starting Feb 7th and ending Feb 14th as my first Soderweek, and the first film I watched was Solaris.

Solaris is a surprisingly great film. It’s a simple sci-fi story about a shrink (Cloon the goon) who has to take trip to a space ship that has stopped all contact. The ship is orbiting a celestial body known as Solaris. Solaris is a strange entity that nobody understands and when Clooney gets there he finds half the crew dead and the other half slowly being driven mad by the power of Solaris.

Any description of this film will make it sound much more intense and science fictiony than it is, but like 2001 (a film that obviously influenced Soderbergh in the making of this film) Solaris is a much subtler more subdued thing. Really this film is about one man coming to terms with the death of someone he loved, set against the always interesting back drop of madness from the vastness and intense alienness of the cosmos.

The film also stars Jeremy Davies, Viola Davis, and Natascha McElhone, and that is pretty much it. Personally I love Jeremy Davies in this and pretty much everything, he is just a fascinating person to watch, and his fidgety pause filled delivery is perfect for a Space Madness film. Viola Davis is also quite good she plays the other surviving crewmember and while she is just as crazy as Davies she plays it exactly the opposite, she is always stone still and very unassuming. McElhone plays Clooney’s lost love in both flashbacks and as a projection of Clooney’s memory via Solaris. McElhone has the tough job of being simultaneously off-putting to the audience but believable as somebody Clooney would immediately fall back in love even though he knows she is dead and she pulls it off perfectly.

As a sci-fi fan I was disappointed a bit with the way Soderbergh pushed aside most possibilities for some great sci-fi, but by the end I got what he was trying to get across. This isn’t a film about space and alien life it is about memory, and death, and love, and big themes that have been explored before, but in my opinion any theme is better if it is explored on a space ship.

Buried

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , on January 26, 2011 by Parker Connell

Forget what I said last week and move every movie on my best of 2010 list down one (sorry Babies) because Buried is my favorite film of 2010. This unbelievably tight thriller stars Ryan Reynolds as a guy trapped in a coffin and that is all I feel comfortable saying in terms of plot, if I were to speak a single syllable more on what this film is about I could possibly ruin your film going experience and I don’t want to do that. Not that it would make the film any less of a masterwork because I’ve seen it twice and can tell you that the second time through is just as engaging and maddening.

Everything about this film is incredibly well crafted, it’s a literal movie translation of Occam’s Razor in that ever aspect of the film is down to the bare minimum and this works to give the film a fresh, unhindered, free quality not seen in other “man trapped in one spot” movies (I’m looking at you 127 Hours).

The minimalistic quality of the film helps to keep your mind on the subject and the freedom Rodrigo Cortes as director and editor has given himself keeps the “gimmick” of Buried from killing it. That gimmick being that you never leave the coffin and are never more than a few inches away from Ryan Reynolds’s (wicked handsome) body.

Sure parts of the flick get a little political, but in the end, you forgive it for two reasons. A) Everything these days is a little political because like war and poverty man, and B) we can forgive it because it never gets in the way of the unbelievably tense story.

That is the best part about Buried, it never lets up, and I mean never. At one point you think it’s letting up, you feel like you might get a moment to breath and calm yourself, but then “No” says Buried, “Fuck you” it shouts at it runs off with your nerves and emotions in a tiny bag, a bag which Buried then pees on and sets fire to.

The first time I saw this film (being last Sunday) I wanted to tell everyone I knew to see it. The second time I saw it (being the Tuesday after my first viewing) I was actually a little upset that everyone I knew hadn’t already seen it. I film like this deserves a wide audience more than any of the crappy movies that came to my theater over the past year, and it worries me that since so few people have actually heard of Buried that now that it’s out on DVD and Blu Ray they’ll think it’s some straight to video piece of garbage. My only hope is that every person who loved Reynolds in The Proposal rents this and instead of being confused (like fans of Sandra Bullock films would normally be when faced with a film with zero jokes about underpants) they are hit with a sudden case of intelligence and enjoy this flick.

Speaking of The Proposal (or whatever crappy movie Reynolds was last in), Buried pretty much redeems him for every previous sin he’s committed against filmed entertainment. The movie totally depends on the performance of its main character because he is (excepting about 3 seconds) the only person on screen for the entire 90 minutes. If the performance had been anything short of great, this review would be entirely different, but as it stands Reynolds knocked it out of the park, using some real, honest to god, acting skillz. It’s just too bad that his next flick after this is the one where all his acting will be computer generated.

I cannot recommend this flick anymore highly; you owe it to yourself as a respectable human being to see it as soon as possible.

Cop Out

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , on September 15, 2010 by Parker Connell

Let me start by saying I saw Cop Out the day it was released in theaters. I went with a couple of friends, expecting a sub-par Kevin Smith experience. We all left feeling let down from that expectation. Upon watching it at home recently I now realize just how wrong we were. We went in expecting something that wasn’t very good so we left feeling let down. In reality we should have gone in expecting the best from Kevin Smith because that is what Cop Out is, Kevin Smith’s greatest work as a director, and a strong contender for best comedy of the past 10 years.

Cop Out takes the tired old mismatched buddy cop genre and turns it around making it vibrant and fresh again. Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan are partners in the NYPD and they play by their own rules, and sometimes their rules are no rules at all. As a for instance take the stake out scene where Tracy is dressed as a giant cell phone. What perfect comedic invention made even better by Smith’s decision to let Morgan riff freely. Tracy Morgan is hilarious in shows like 30 Rock and SNL where he is reigned in and controlled by television censorship but given the Kevin Smith seal of unmitigated swears he is revolutionary. He bounces comedy off everything on-screen.

Bruce Willis is also used perfectly. He’s a grizzled old cop, like John McClane if he hadn’t had all those run-ins with greedy Germans and just became jaded and sarcastic. As a straight man for Morgan’s antics he is amazing, but don’t worry in the realm of comedy Bruno is no slouch. Smith and the writers give Willis ample opportunity to stretch that comedy muscle.

The story is all over the place, which is a welcome departure from Smith’s usual linear way of telling a story, but at the center is a baseball card worth enough money to pay for an elaborate wedding for Bruce Willis’ daughter’s wedding. Needless to say things aren’t so simple for our heroes. I won’t spoil anything (because I highly recommend you see this) but let me just add that this has one of the most menacing villains I’ve ever seen in a comedy!

The look of this film is pretty great. It reminded me so much of old cop flicks like The French Connection and Serpico. Very down on the street, gritty, which made juxtaposition of comedy pop even more.

I could go on and on about this movie, from Kevin Pollack and Adam Brody as Bruce Willis and Tracy Morgan’s rivals on the force with a weird predilection for cowboy wear, or the out of this world action set pieces, but I won’t I want this revelatory comedy experience to be a new and fresh experience for you.

I promise you will not be disappointed!

Good Night and Good Luck

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , on September 8, 2010 by Parker Connell

I don’t think I’m speaking out of turn here when I say that Cloon the Goon has talent. He’s a mighty fine actor in both big budget fun fests like the Ocean’s flicks and smaller dramas like Michael Clayton. Not only that but he’s a pretty great director. As an added bonus just to make we mere mortals all the more jealous he is outrageously handsome.

all the ladies reading this just lost their panties

Good Night and Good Luck really is a great flick. It came out a couple of years back and it got mad oscar respect. Best picture, best director, best actor, best writing, and a couple more that, lets face it, people don’t care about.

2005 it seems upon retrospect was a down year for the academy, in terms of  realizing which films where truly deserving of awards and in terms of having the foresight to realize which films would still be watchable 5 years down the road. Let me just say that GN+GL is far better than every movie that beat it on oscar night.

David Strathairn’s performance as Edward R. Murrow is truly great, I was enthralled with ever moment he spoke as well as every moment he didn’t, it was far superior to PSH’s over-wrought and over praised performance in Capote. Both actors portrayed real people of some fame and import in films that would be called slow-paced by literate people and boring by the unwashed masses. Yet Hoffman came off as a bizarre caricature of a man who in life was already pretty much a bizarre caricature, it was the kind of performance that screamed give me an oscar please look at me. Strathairn on the other hand played Murrow with a subtle dominance of the screen that just sort of said “Yeah I’m good but you don’t even realize it do you, and you know what, I don’t care.”

Then Ang Lee wins best picture over Cloon the Goon, a fact that is, pardon my french, stupid. Brokeback Mountain was lame and boring and I don’t think that because I’m homophobic, I’m not, I think that because it was a lame stupid romance that nobody would have cared about if it weren’t for the fact that the romance was between two dudes. If it were about a dude and a chick it would have ben A Walk to Remember with cowboy hats.

A bad movie yes, but at least it had no pretensions towards its own importance.

The academy’s worst trespass against Cloon the Goon, and film in general, was awarding Paul Haggis the awards of writing and best picture for the steaming pile of racist excrement Crash. I know the academy is mostly made of rich white dudes and Crash probably made them feel like they understood black people and that they were absolved of all there racist thoughts and actions when Sandra Bullock, like a rich white Jesus, accepts help from her Hispanic maid after a life time of ill will and fear of people with different skin, but it didn’t and they weren’t because Crash is nothing more than a pandering piece of upper class white fantasy so cloying and up its own ass that it should make any self-respecting film fan throw up in revulsion and anger.

like this

Good Night and Good Luck is the best film I’ve seen from the year 2005, except for maybe Wallace and Gromit in the Curse of the Were Rabbit. That movie truly rocks.

Michael Clayton

Posted in movies with tags , , , , , , , , on August 27, 2010 by Parker Connell

Congrats Michael. You did it. We’re proud of you, we were all pullin’ for ya, from the beginning. We all knew you could do it, and we were right, because you did it man. I think the best thing about you completing your mission (i.e. doing it) is that you included us. So really. We all did it. Hooray for us. We did it. Michael Clayton, me, you, everyone who participated. We all did it. All right!

There were people who doubted you. You can’t deny it. Remember that one part where the dude with the white hair and the glasses was like “Hey Michael, you can’t do it”. We showed him didn’t we. You looked him in the eye and you said “Not only can I do, I am gonna do it.” and in the end you showed him when you did it. Sorry, we did it. That was a good feeling.

Oh but there were rough times. Like when you had to pick up your kid. Your kid didn’t do it. He wasn’t a very good actor. He really took us all out of it a couple times. Then there was Tilda Swinton. She didn’t want you (us) to do it. Neither did that guy who looked like Anthony Michael Hall but who wasn’t actually Anthony Michael Hall, that guy didn’t want you to do it. But in spite of all that, man you did it. With a little help from your friends (us).

There are a few ambiguities about what it is that you (we) did. But there is no ambiguity about the fact that you (we) did do it, and there is certainly no ambiguity about when it is that you (we) finalized the doing of it. That part when you looked at T. Swins and were all like “You’re fucked” that was the moment. That was the moment that you did it. With us. We did it. I’m proud of you. I’m proud of us! We did it.