Crime

Silence of the Lambs

Year: 1991
Directed By: Jonathan Demme
Written By: Thomas Harris (novel) Ted Tally (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I distinctly remember the first time I saw this movie. I was about 10 years old and staying at some relatives house who were cool enough to let me watch the grown up movie. Unfortunately the grown up movie was this one and for some reason I thought it was based on a true story. My Uncle may or may not have told me as much. I will never forget lying awake afterwards in straight up fear. Lying in the dark just staring at the ceiling, my ten year old mind unable to process anything beyond the horrible Hannibal Lecture being lose in the world. Where else could he possibly be on a late summer night besides right outside the door wanting to kill me???

In less than 25 minutes of screen time Anthony Hopkins not only earned the Academy Award for Best Actor but he scarred my prepubescent self to a new level. I would feel foolish about my youthful fear but in truth Hannibal Lecter still scares me. Nothing is quite as intimidating as superior intelligence and Lecter brings more to the table than just that. Lecter won’t just outsmart you, he’ll bite your face and then cut it off of you. If he has enough time he might even eat you! Add that to the fact that the man never blinks and I challenge anybody not to be scared of the guy. Imagine thinking he was a real person, loose in the world with the freedom to kill and eat anybody he wanted, and maybe you can relate to the 10 year old Ryan who laid awake in fear for an entire night some 20 something years ago.

For somebody who was born out west, Jodie Foster has always been able to pull off a hell of a southern accent. Though she won the Academy Award for this movie and is the hero I tend to think she is overshadowed by her co-stars. I have also always held it against her that she didn’t return to the sequel with everybody else ten years later with Hannibal. Even though I think she was overshadowed I still think this is one of her finest performances but that is coming from a specific non fan. She has had a long and distinguished career but few of her roles have ever really gotten to me on a fan level.

The obvious person who overshadowed her was Anthony Hopkins who gave the performance of a lifetime but I also think Ted Levine stands out more than she does too. As Buffalo Bill he is a combination of several real life serial killers and he is absolutely terrifying. He has a voice that will haunt you in your worst nightmares and his dress up scene will make your skin crawl. Even scarier is the persona that goes with that villainous voice. A man who captures women and drops them into a pit is something to fear and he makes my skin break out in goose flesh every time I see him. Unfortunately I have never been able to separate Levine from this role and no matter what else he is in I keep waiting for him to say, “It puts the lotion in the basket.”

As bad as my fear was that this movie was based on a real story I think I have been more terrified to know about the men the movie was actually based on. Buffalo Bill is a combination of a few serial killers who actually did most of the things we saw in the movie. The skinning of victims was actually done by a serial killer so fearsome he has become legend. Ed Gein is the basis for not only part of Buffalo Bill but also Leatherface and Norman Bates. He would dress up in his dead mothers clothing, dig up corpses to steal skin, and the women he actually did kill were hung up and gutted in the same fashion hunted animals are. Ted Bundy would use a cast on his arm to lure women into his van and then use it as a weapon to knock them out. The scariest thing though, if not Ed Gein, is the fact there was a serial killer who had a pit he kept women in. Gary Heidnick terrorized six women during the 70s and 80s doing many awful things, including keeping them in a pit. The things he did were so awful and unbelievable that when one of his victims escaped and told police they didn’t even believe her story until seeing physical evidence. Each one of these men are terrifying in their own rite but put together they created a haunting villain in Buffalo Bill.

This movie went through pains to be legitimate with all the actors doing their due diligence in research. Hopkins studied several serial killers and even attended some trials for violent crimes when trying to get into character. The not blinking thing was his own idea as he knew a person who never blinked and it freaked out everyone that talked to him. Ted Levine also did plenty of research into both serial killers and the transsexual community. There was also an actual FBI Agent on set in a consulting role to help make sure everything went right. I think all these efforts went a long way to making the movie so great and memorable.

There were few lasting effects from my fearsome evening with this movie for the first time but I will never forget it regardless. It was simply the product of my youth but I still have doubts that just any other movie could have elicited such a response out of me. This movie is awesome hands down and it’s one that hardly needs my stamp of approval. The efforts to bank on its success afterwards including both a sequel and a prequel could not match what was done with this film. There are memorable parts in both Hannibal and Red Dragon but some things simply can’t be replicated and the same type of magic wasn’t present in those films. This is a movie that nearly everyone has seen but if you somehow missed it then you need to go back and check it out. This one is definitely worth your time.

NEXT MOVIE: Silver Lining Playbook (2012)

 

 

 

 

 

Sexy Beast

Year: 2000
Directed By: Jonathan Glazer
Written By: Louis Mellis and David Scinto

RYAN’S REVIEW

Some actors take every opportunity to showcase their greatness and sometimes they deliver a performance that reminds us just how talented they really are. That’s what Ben Kingsley did with this movie and that is exactly why I own it. Years ago I had a friend bring this movie over and I wasn’t interested, but once Kingsley showed up with all the ferocity I never knew him capable of I had to own the film.

This is really a fairly cut and dry movie short the performances that make it exceptional. Ray Winstone is great as Gal, a criminal who thinks he’s “retired” and has to find out the hard way that his enterprise isn’t one you ever actually quit. He’s living the good life, soaking up the sun and drinking the night away with friends before a phone call from back home upsets the equilibrium of things. An old acquaintance has decided to pay a visit and he is not the type of man you can deny when he comes calling.

Don Logan is intimidating as hell and I am so surprised every time I see this movie how wicked he is. Adding to his intimidation is the fact that you can so clearly see how afraid Gal and his friends are when they are around this guy from back home. It suggests they know things, they know what he is capable of and it has them visibly distressed.   The thing about Ben Kingsley as Don Logan is that he is just as intimidating when he is sitting quietly as he is when he is flashing his anger. He has a presence that can be felt through the screen and right into your living room. Kingsley was actually nominated for the Academy Award for this role but lost to Jim Broadbent for his role in the movie Iris.

Kingsley overshadows nearly everyone in this movie but Ray Winstone is due plenty of credit. He kept the movie interesting after Kingsley’s part with his interactions with the equally intimidating Teddy Bass, played by Ian McShane. I am a huge fan of Ian McShane and he is always great as a sinister and shady character. In this movie I didn’t feel like McShane really brought it as a bad guy but it’s hard to be in the same movie with Don Logan and measure up.

Bank robbery movies have a tendency to be redundant because we have seen it all before. This movie is no different once Don Logan has come and gone. I think it is still worth your time to see though because Don Logan deserves to be seen. If for no other reason then seeing a bad guy be bad this movie is one you should definitely check out.

NEXT MOVIE: Shaun of the Dead (2004)

 

Road to Perdition

Year: 2002
Directed By: Sam Mendes
Written By: Max Allan Collins & Richard Piers Rayner (graphic novel) David Self (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a movie I was very excited about back in 2002 when it came out. I had been a huge fan of American Beauty in 1999 and found it very influential. This was the first film the director Sam Mendes had made since and I was really excited to see what else he was capable of. This movie was not as powerful and inspiring as his first film but I liked it all the same. It’s an aesthetically pleasing film with impeccable performances and an interesting mobster story. The movie is more visual than most with limited amount of dialogue but it manages to convey everything it needs to with each shot in every scene.

One of my favorite things about this movie is the performance of Tom Hanks because he plays such an un-Hanks-like character. I have been watching Tom Hanks for his entire career and this movie was the first time I had seen him play anything close to a bad guy. Yes in this movie he is the honorable hitman with the respect of his peers but a hitman none the less. I found it so interesting to see Hanks in a role where he was killing people and I thought he did well. He is a quiet and somber man who carries the weight of reputation with him, but when he has to act he does not hesitate. It’s so weird to see Tom Hanks shoot people after a lifetime of playing nice guy parts, but I like it. What I find most interesting is that even when Hanks is playing a ruthless killer out for revenge, he still comes across as a nice guy somehow. As Mike Sullivan he is gruff and curt but something about him being the victim in it all and a father as well still makes him seem like regular old Tom Hanks.

This was Paul Newman’s final role in a live action motion picture and I think he went out with a bang. Newman was a legendary actor and he is nothing short of fantastic in this movie. As the well respected and stoic leader of a criminal organization he is torn between what he wants and what he is obligated to. He knows that his son is up to no good and he damns him for the sins he commits but holds true to his responsibility as a parent throughout it all. I love his final scene in which he is resolved and accepting of his fate, such a classy way to be murdered. He was nominated for his role in this film but lost to lost to Chris Cooper for his part in Adaptation. An unfortunate loss but fitting given that both Cooper and the film were fantastic.

It took Daniel Craig a while to reach the star status where he didn’t have to play weaselly characters like Conner Rooney. Back in 2002 he was still a relative nobody and willing to take whatever part he could get in a big budget movie. He is a terrific actor but I think this is one of the worst characters I’ve seen him play. I like Craig too much to appreciate him in the part of such a douche bag.

I love that just when you think this movie is over and the happy ending is unfolding the most sinister character in the film pops back up to ruin the moment. Looking even worse for wear after his last encounter with Hanks’ Mike Sullivan the scarred and forgotten bad guy is waiting to finish his job. I have never been a big fan of Jude Law but he is simply great as the morbid photographer who works as a hitman on the side. I love when we first meet him and the music is reminiscent of American Beauty as he finishes the job on the victim he is photographing, the one that isn’t quite dead enough for him. That first scene immediately shows us how wicked this man is and he doesn’t disappoint as the movie carries on. He is a dedicated hitman who does what nobody else can by easily finding his victim, and no one will stand in his way. I love how a cop tries to stop him when he first meets Sullivan and he simply shoots the cop as an afterthought, as if the officer is nothing more than a nuisance to be dispatched.

I think the greatest strength this movie has is how beautiful it is. The scenes that take place in Chicago are exceptionally magnificent. The beauty behind this movie is a credit to the director Sam Mendes, who really doesn’t work enough. He only has seven directorial credits and the last two have both been James Bond films. I’ve heard he isn’t returning for the 25th Bond so I can only hope that in the aftermath of that franchise he does something else that makes us marvel at his abilities.

I had not known until sitting down to do this review that the movie was based off a graphic novel by the same name. Knowing that know I feel like I should have known as soon as I saw it. The look and feel of the movie clearly has a graphic novel vibe and makes the movie a fantastic adaptation. This is definitely not your run of the mill mobster flick but you still have a fantastic noir feel to the movie. It’s visual qualities do justice to scenes that probably came right off the page from the source material. I don’t know however as I have never read the comic and don’t know how closely it may or may not have followed it.

This movie isn’t one that received a lot of notoriety when it was released and it seems generally forgotten thirteen years later. When I mentioned to people I was watching it I got mostly confused looks as even the people of my generation struggled to remember it. I think that is a shame and hope it was simply a reflection of a small group of people who simply didn’t know. I really enjoy this movie and think it deserves a bigger place in our hearts and memory. If for no other reason that the qualities that make it exceptional. As the last rodeo for a legend and a rare opportunity to see the 90s nice guy go full on bad guy. This movie is worth your time to see for those reasons and because it is really an entertaining film.

NEXT MOVIE: Road Trip (2000)

 

Reservoir Dogs

Year: 1992
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

RYAN’S REVIEW

It’s been a while since I’ve gotten back on this trail along the journey through our DVD rack. Well, what better movie to come back to than this one? That just happened to be next in line. This is after all the original and hard hitting film that put Quentin Tarantino on the map. By the time I saw it for the first time it was already a cult classic. That was back in 2001 or so when I was just a kid discovering who Tarantino was and backtracking his career.

It was an exciting thing to discover this movie as a teenager. Those were back in the days when I worked at a video store days and had youthful dreams of following in the footsteps of Tarantino. A guy who just loved movies and started making his own. Long before Kill Bill, I had a very different point of view regarding the the young director. I thought his movies were incredible and I really admired how he had made something of himself. He had written some stories, sacrificed some to finance his first film, and with some help from his friends got the ball rolling on an interesting career. A career that has offered us some truly exceptional films, and it all started with this one.

It was a wonderful thing to discover this movie during my formative years. As a young man I had a wild appetite for stories that I fed with both books and film. I had a wild imagination to boot and spent the boring hours of school days imagining stories of my own that I would write down from time to time. When I got my first job at the age of 15 working at a movie video store (that nearly forgotten business entity) I went home every evening with something new to explore. I had been aware of Quentin Tarantino’s work when I was younger. Not just from Jackie Brownwhich I had the opportunity to see in the theater but before that. I remember 1994 and seeing the Pulp Fiction poster of Uma Thurman laying on the bed. I was taken with the poster but warned by my step mother that this movie was nothing but garbage. I specifically remember it being one of the first films I took home because I finally had the opportunity to see it for myself. I was marveled by the film and it put me on a quest of sorts to see all of Tarantino’s films.

This eventually turned out to be the last of his movies that I saw but of course in those days there were only a few to see. He had sold some movies made by others (Natural Born Killers and True Romance, two movies that are very similar) but when I started there was only Reservoir DogsPulp Fiction, and Jackie Brown. He had done other things, directing a short in a movie called Four Rooms as well as doing some acting, most notably in Desperado and From Dusk till Dawn. I became an obsessive fan the more I learned about Tarantino. He, like myself at the time, worked at a video store and his love for films was what motivated him to achieve. He had no formal training just talent that he was able to transition onto screen.

In his debut film Tarantino set the tone for all that was to come. He got our attention with an excellent cast, drew us in with witty dialogue, and then blew us away with sudden and savage violence. The cast he was able to assemble for this low budget movie is quite impressive. If I remember correctly he was able to get the attention of Harvey Keitel who agreed to finance and act in the film. The budget was so low that many of the actors supplied their own clothing, yet so many big names were in the film. In hindsight most of these guys were simply in the beginning of their careers and most of them went on to become very popular. Guys like Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth are great in this movie but they would go on to do such great work throughout their careers that this is just another good one for them.

When it comes to the actors in this movie my favorite is hands down Michael Madsen as Mr. Blonde. Mr. Blonde is easily up there with some of the coolest bad guys ever. His swagger, his complete lack of compassion, and his brutal honesty are all part of what makes him so wicked. I have said many times over the years that we did not get enough of Michael Madsen during his heyday. As Mr. Blonde he showed enough potential to be one of the most badass actors available but was never utilized enough. The torture scene is a rough one but I appreciate a bad guy that’s “all in” when it comes to the part. Mr. Blonde doesn’t care if there is a rat, he doesn’t care what anybody will think about his actions; he’s going to do whatever he wants and say prayers for anybody unlucky enough to be in his way. When he tortures Marvin Nash his violence is offset by the charismatic way he goes about his business. Set to the excellent Stealer’s Wheel song “Stuck in the Middle With You,” Mr. Blonde struts around and dances as he goes about the dirty work. After cutting off the officer’s ear he joking says something right into it as he holds it in his hand; sadistic yes but quite funny all the same. One of my favorite bad guy lines comes from his explanation for the much talked about shooting spree during the robbery, “If they hadn’t done what I told them not to do, they’d still be alive.”

My next favorite part from this rich cast is easily Chris Penn. I have never been a fan of his incredibly accomplished brother but I’ve liked Chris in a few things over the years. Chris Penn may have never hit it big like his brother but in this movie he is simply fantastic. As Nice Guy Eddie he is cool yet capable of intimidation. When he finds his friend dead in the warehouse he doesn’t hesitate to make a point about how insignificant the cop actually is by casually killing him. In his monologue afterwards, the strength of his voice and the fire in his eyes serves him well as it’s surprisingly very intimidating. In the final standoff he has so much emotion in his voice as he yells at Mr. White to quit pointing his gun at his father. I find it to be a really powerful performance. Penn was found dead of heart disease nearly ten years ago now but truthfully there was little hope left for his dwindling career in acting. Yet he gave us some good performances in his time and this is one of his best.

I mentioned that this movie is just another good one from Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth. It may be just another good performance from Buscemi but I cannot stress enough how much I admire and enjoy him as an actor. Buscemi has always been “the funny looking guy” but his career has blossomed into so much more than that. By all rights an actor with his looks should never succeed but not only has he succeeded, he has succeeded at plenty of roles that could have easily gone to others. He is so good as his trade that he has managed to overcome all odds to build a career any actor could be proud of, and there is no end in sight for him. Roth hasn’t had the same kind of success as Buscemi but I have always liked him. In this film he isn’t my favorite but he plays the rat and in a movie like this the rat is a character to be despised.

Harvey Keitel deserves special mention in this post because the movie would have never happened without him. Though, I have never particularly been a fan of Keitel and I specifically don’t really like him in this movie. He’s the guy that stands up for Orange all through the movie for all the wrong reasons. In the end when he goes so far as to defend him with his life it’s just too much and the character has always been soured on me because of it.

This is an exceptional movie and I have loved it since the first time I saw it. I saw it at a very influential time during my formative years and I will honestly say it wasn’t something that invoked evil thoughts in me but something that inspired my own interest in creativity and talent. This movie is even more exceptional because Tarantino made it with such a small budget and very little experience in the trade. Over time Tarantino has proved to be a rare and completely genuine talent that rose from nothing to be great, and did it all on his own. He has made some incredible movies with no formal training only the eye of imagination and determination to succeed. Everything that he is has its roots here in this movie; his debut film. Tarantino has a style like no other and it all started with Reservoir Dogs. This is a movie that you must see if you haven’t already. It’s generally regarded as one of the greatest independent films of all time and it left a significant mark on the crime genre. If you haven’t seen it then trust that it is worth your time and check out what you’ve been missing.

NEXT MOVIE: Return of the Dragon/The Way of the Dragon (1972)

 

 

Ransom

Year: 1996
Directed By: Ron Howard
Written By: Cyril Hume and Richard Maibaum (story), Richard Price and Alexander Ignon (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie made it into the collection when I first started shopping on Amazon a few years ago. I bought a used copy of this movie for 4 cents. I figured that whether I liked it or not, and I liked it just enough, I had to see what was going to arrive in my mailbox for just 4 pennies. I marveled over Amazon for weeks afterwards when I received not only the movie but a DVD that was in good condition. I remembered this movie because it was part of our movie collection growing up. My family was made up of big Mel Gibson fans, mind you this was back in the 90s; years before he became publicly known as that crazy guy. I considered it for a moment and figured this movie was worth each one of those pennies. In truth it cost a bit more because of the shipping and handling but when I tell the story it was only 4 cents.

When I sat down to watch this movie I reverted back into a mind frame from my youth. A time in the 90s when Mel Gibson was the greatest, Rene Russo was still beautiful and sexy, and Gary Sinise was an actor that everybody wanted to see more of. That mindset made this the perfect movie to watch but nevertheless I don’t think it stands the test of time. At least when it comes to being exceptional. If you want to see more of the same with actors that were really good in 96 then this is your movie but you won’t find anything crazy in this one.

In 1996 the duo of Rene Russo and Mel Gibson was something Hollywood really wanted more of. They had hit it off with great chemistry in Lethal Weapon 3 and I can never express how much Mel Gibson was THE MAN in the 90s, everybody loved him. We don’t own the third installment of the Lethal Weapon franchise because I hate when a franchise established on an R rating goes to PG-13. I think the 3rd Lethal Weapon suffered because of it; as did the 4th when they got even farther from the true nature of the franchise. When it comes to Russo and Gibson in this movie I don’t think the chemistry is really there this time around. They seem to turn on each other way too soon for one. They may look good together but I don’t think they lived up to that rep with this movie.

I am a big fan of Gary Sinise, but I really don’t like the role he took on in this movie and I think it was this film that generally stopped the momentum he had built up prior and since Forrest GumpIn this movie he is a bad guy, and not even the kind of bad guy that you relate to and like. He’s the sleazy cop that does something dirty for the money, and in addition to that betrays his companions and murders all of them to claim the reward himself. This role was a momentum killer for Sinise’s career and that sucks. I thought he was a good actor. My favorite role of his was actually the TV version of The Stand when he played Stu Redman. I’m a big Stephen King fan and I have always envisioned Sinise in the part when reading the book.

If you haven’t seen this movie you haven’t missed much in truth. It’s a fairly typical kidnapping movie with a little bit of Mel Gibson impulsive insanity thrown in the mix. You must keep in mind this is long before his crazy side was ever revealed to the public, this was during his king of the world years. It’s an alright movie just nothing exceptional. If you’ve seen this movie before I think it is easily worth four pennies of your own money. Otherwise I don’t know that it is really worth your time to see it.

NEXT MOVIE: Rebel Without a Cause (1955)

 

 

 

Pulp Fiction

Year: 1994
Directed By: Quentin Tarantino
Written By: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary

RYAN’S REVIEW

There was a time when I thought Quentin Tarantino had played all his cards and this was the best one on the table. I began to believe that whatever made Tarantino so successful was simply his collaboration with Roger Avary. I have since learned the err of that belief but for nearly ten years I developed and held tight to that line of thinking. At a young and influential age I fell in love with Tarantino’s films and had to wait for an appallingly long time with nothing but what I found to be the incredibly disappointing Kill Bill films. Those films, after all, were simply a sub plot from this film. When all he could do in that time was make a film based on a line from his most popular film I took it as a sign. In this film Uma Thurman’s character was on a pilot TV show thats plot was basically the story of Kill Bill. However, in the years since Inglourious Basterds we have seen that I was wrong all along and just a bitter fan getting pissy about wanting something new and incredible to see.

Tarantino has always had a mind for writing snazzy dialogue and it is on full display in this film. From the opening scene in the restaurant this movie immediately grabs your attention and then takes advantage of it with a charming scene of two hit men casually carrying out their jobs on a group of targets. Tarantino is a perfect example of why writing matters. He has always been successful delivering us shock in awe but the base of what makes him great is his writing. From there it goes up to his work behind the camera and if there is one flaw in him it’s his determination to get in front of the camera himself. I thought he was good in Reservoir Dogs and good in this film but I think he stretches it too much. I think it’s obvious Tarantino is a cool guy to meet and people are drawn to him in the business. Every one of his films has been cast with not simply a big actor but a group of them with others clamoring for cameos. I remember hearing somewhere along the way that he would make friends easily with actors and offer them parts in his next movie. Regardless how it happens I have always loved directors who worked with larger casts and Tarantino is one of the reasons I have that preference.

I heard once that this was the film that revived John Travolta’s career and I know that’s true because he preceded it with a third Look Who’s Talking film. If that isn’t something you do only when your career is in the dumps I don’t know what is. I think that is interesting because this role wasn’t even originally intended for him. If I’m not mistaken I think the role was supposed to go to Michael Madsen but he had a scheduling conflict. I can say honestly that I think Travolta was great in this movie and it seems to fit with film history that he is dancing on screen again in such a comeback. Nevertheless, Michael Madsen would he been better. There is nobody in the business cooler or colder than Mr. Blonde. Had he actually played his counterpart to Vic Vega his whole career may have been different and for the better. Movies didn’t get enough of Michael Madsen; he should have had a better agent in the 90s. The only problem is that the character of Vincent Vega appears befuddled and confused now and again, he gets killed by leaving his gun in the kitchen and well….he shot Marvin in the face. I couldn’t see Michael Madsen being so foolish. Plus, junkies are never cool, I think Vincent Vega using heroin makes him a liability more than an asset to a criminal organization and that drops his cool factor significantly. Heroin users aren’t cool; they’re afflicted with a problem that will eventually drive them to desperation.

This movie sports many cameos but one of my favorite of all time is the one performed by Christopher Walken. I am a huge fan of Walken and this film may very well be the reason why. Nobody has a cadence like Walken; his voice is great for comedians doing impressions. He has a presence about him, and he makes every film he is a part of better. Speaking of guys who make every film better, Steve Buscemi also sports a cameo in this movie. I love seeing Buscemi in anything but when he makes such a brief appearance in this film I just feel cheated.  Another cameo that shouldn’t go unmentioned is that of Peter Greene, which in truth shouldn’t be called a cameo but a part. Greene, like Madsen, is an actor that never got enough screen time. He has a sinister look about him, perfect for the part of Zed.

As it’s time to speak of Jed, Bruce Willis needs be mentioned. I have grown up as a fan of one of the greatest action heroes of my time. John McClain, Korben Dallas, and Joe freakin Hallenbeck for cryin out loud. Who better to wield a samurai sword against sex criminals? Bruce Willis embodies what a badass is supposed to be through my eyes that grew up in the nineties. In truth, this has never really been my favorite role of his, but under most circumstances I have always felt like Willis could do no wrong. I tend to pull for the mobsters in these types of films and Willis is as close to a good guy as it gets in this movie. The mobsters are great though, Ving Rhames easily gave his finest performance as Marsellus Wallace. Never quite understood why the boss was picking up the coffee in the scene when he crosses paths with Butch but otherwise he brings it as a powerful and intimidating bad guy. The kind of guy you definitely don’t want to drag down into the basement of sodomy and do things to.

While I feel like Travolta’s Vega is a bit on the goofy side as a hitman I think Samuel L. Jackson is the complete opposite as Jules. Jules is such a cool and compelling character that it could be argued that Jackson has cashed in on it more than 20 times over. I am a huge fan of Jackson but it is very often when I feel like he is simply doing his Jules from Inglewood routine. He gets loud, uses some profanity, and then something crazy happens. I still love it though, in fact I own Snakes on a Plane for no other reason than I love Samuel L Jackson being himself. The role of Jules was specifically written for Samuel L. Jackson after he failed to land a role he auditioned for in Reservoir Dogs so I think there is a lot of him in this character. Jackson has over 160 credits as an actor and continues to work at a rate that barely anybody can keep up with. The majority of those roles started piling up after this film. With “great fury and powerful vengeance” he took the industry by storm after his Oscar nominated role as Jules and there is no end in sight to his success.

This is the type of movie that offers a lot of talking points but I don’t feel the need to rehash old conversations because it is all out there now. We know that Jules’ biblical speech was written for the film and not specifically taken out of the Bible. We know there was nothing specifically in the briefcase. To which the answer never seems good enough for people, I wouldn’t be surprised to find out Tarantino is still to this day badgered about that question. Theories include the soul Marsellus and even the diamonds stolen in Reservoir Dogs, but it has been said a dozen times by Tarantino and Avary both that the contents of the box were specifically left up to the viewer. We have an eye now for the Tarantino brands like Big Kahuna Burger and Apple cigarettes. I love the type of director Tarantino is and if he wasn’t such a genius people wouldn’t continue to talk about these things after over 20 years. He is making some great movies these days but this one will always be one of his greatest.

I love how he films these independent stories that are all random but tie together in the end. I love how it comes full circle with the robbery of the restaurant. Amanda Plummer is shocking with her sudden ferocity and so vulnerable in the end when the heat it turned up. I think it is such a compelling performance. Tim Roth is great too as the level headed stick up man. In limited screen time Pumpkin and Honey Bunny are able to convey such a powerful and interesting relationship. It’s great written dialogue and great acting all around. The “Bad Motherfucker” wallet that Pumpkin has to fish back for Jules actually belonged to Quentin Tarantino. I actually have one myself that Amber got me as a gift a few years ago. I keep it as a joke with a younger license inside with things from the past. The way I see it that younger version of myself may have been a “Bad Motherfucker” but these days I’m a domesticated husband and father so I keep it simply for the novelty of it and to joke about from time to time.

I haven’t mentioned two of the most important people in this film but let me explain why. I am not and have never been a fan of Uma Thurman. While I’ll admit she is great in this movie I haven’t thought Mia’s character was anything exceptional. I detest the use of heroin and her character’s OD scene doesn’t impress me as it might others. She looks really cool with the short black hair but I’m just not into it. Tarantino obviously likes her a lot though as he used her in Kill Bill and continues to allude to a third film as well. The Kill Bill movies are absent from our collection and normally I would buy such a film specifically to write about it here but I simply won’t have them in my collection. With the ease of Amazon Prime many unlikely titles have made it into the collection in recent years but at Kill Bill I draw a line. Those movies are garbage and I will not give in simply for the sake of how awesome Tarantino was and is again with new success.

The other I’ve failed to mention was that of Harvey Keitel. Nothing against him but I have always felt like the Wolf was a little overdone. I think the character is really cool, but much like Uma, I’m just not into it. Keitel is as much the reason for the success of Tarantino as anybody though so he is due plenty of respect. If I’m not mistaken he was the first actor to get behind Tarantino and had a lot to do with getting the wheels rolling on Reservoir Dogs. The role of the Wolf was specifically written for him and it’s a really cool role. I just never felt so impressed about this freaky fast Mr. Fix Anything guy. I do want to believe that guy is out there utilized by criminal organizations because it’s such a cool idea but I feel like a guy who shows up in the AM wearing a tuxedo is just too much. Are to believe this totally efficient guy is also pulling all nighters with the sophisticated crowd that parties in formal wear? I may love this movie, but even as an easily influenced adolescent obsessed with this movie I found it a bit silly back in the day.

This is a movie that has survived in popularity for an awfully long time and anybody that watches it understands why. I have a memory that has never left in which my future step mother talked about this film and the things she had heard about it swearing to never watch it. It was the syringe scene she mentioned specifically. That memory always makes me laugh a little because this movie is not for the faint of heart. There are people like my step mother out there that simply cannot handle a movie like this and I find it comical in a strange way. For the rest of us though, this is really something to enjoy. You can’t call yourself a movie buff without a healthy dose of viewings on this one. It’s a classic that will continue to be popular for years to come and influence countless more rebellious youths as it once did to me. This movie is without doubt worth your time over and over again.

NEXT MOVIE: Punch-Drunk Love (2002)

A Perfect World

Year: 1993
Directed By: Clint Eastwood
Written By: John Lee Hancock

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie distinctly reminds me of my brother and our youth. It was a movie he liked a lot and for some reason I associated it with him and the feeling I had in looking up to him as a child. I like this movie but it’s not one I really love or identify with. It made its way into the collection in the same way that plenty of movies that truthfully don’t belong have made it in. Amazon Prime suggested it to me with its nice low price and fancy no shipping cost. I looked at it and I thought of my brother, pressed the order button and now it has it’s own place on the shelf.

Now, looking back I think this is interesting because it was a Clint Eastwood film I really liked before I had come to the realization that Clint Eastwood was a fantastic filmmaker. Of course Clint Eastwood has been making great movies for my entire lifetime but I never bought into his tough guy image until Gran Torino . By that time (2008) I was just late to a party that everyone had already had a great time at. I have watched and enjoyed many Eastwood films since coming to the realization he deserved my respect, but this one stands out as one that I appreciated without knowing he was the man at the helm.

Clint Eastwood is a truly gifted director but I have not always been his biggest fan as an actor. Specifically during the time this movie came out I saw him as nothing more than a cliché. The ever grisly and hard faced cowboy. Which is exactly what he is in this film as the wise and experienced Texas Ranger. He does his thing in this movie and there is nothing wrong with his performance but I don’t think there is anything exceptional about it either. If anything it’s a performance that only serviced to harden my stance that he was nothing more than a cliché.

I think the strength of this film is in the performance of Kevin Costner. I was not a big fan of Costner either in the 90s either but I do believe in giving credit where it is due. Costner played a really great part as the quietly intelligent criminal that befriends the little boy and becomes the father figure he himself never had. Costner had great chemistry with the young actor who played Phillip/Buzz, T.J. Lowther.

I like the themes of the movie that even bad people can be good, but in the end they are still bad guys. Butch wins us over by becoming a father figure to Buzz and developing a bond with him that warms our hearts. Yet before it is all over he reminds us why he is a bad guy. It’s chilling when he becomes full on criminal again. So much so that even Buzz, who has grown to love him, won’t stand by and allow it to go on. Butch may have been really intelligent and had a soft heart for kids, but he was a violent and dangerous man all the same.

One interesting factoid about this film is that it references JFK coming to Dallas. Of course JFK was ultimately assassinated in Dallas and it could easily be misunderstood as this movie taking place right before that fateful trip.  It does not however, the movie references too many campaigns and the election year was in 1962 while JFK was killed in 63. I don’t think the year of the setting is actually said in the film but it had to have taken place before November of 1962. I was disappointed to find this out because when I was watching it I felt like it was about something that took place in Texas just weeks before the President was killed. The kind of thing that might have happened. The kind of thing that nobody would really know much about or ever even remember. The kind of crazy story that happens all over the world all the time and gets passed over in the aggressive rush of progressive time. The world keeps on turning and people move on and forget it ever happened. It still is that type of story, it just doesn’t rest in the shadow of such a great American tragedy.

I like this movie but I don’t love it. I think it lives up to the standards of it’s filmmaker’s quality and ability but beyond that it’s not one I expect to find myself talking people into. It’s a cool movie but I wouldn’t suggest going out of your way to see it. This movie would be great for Clint Eastwood and/or Kevin Costner fans but otherwise it will be one I imagine is largely forgotten in time.

NEXT MOVIE: Phantoms (1998)