Daniel Craig

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)

 

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The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Year: 2011
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: Steven Zailian (screenplay) Stieg Larsson (novel)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I think this was a lot of great work put into a ridiculous story for the sake of capitalizing on something successful.  I think this was a horrible book and I don’t know that I have ever been more disappointed by a twist at the end, but despite what I think the book sold millions and millions of copies.  It was easily one of the most successful books of its time and a big movie production for it was necessary under those circumstances.  I think the movie was really well made, the actors were terrific, and the soundtrack by Trent Reznor was awesome.  Yet, despite all that I found the story in the movie to be even more ridiculous than the one in the book and I can’t get past that.  Still, we own the movie now for two reasons.  One, Amber was a big fan of the book and liked the movie. Two, Rooney Mara is so aggressively naked in this movie and she is so sexy I felt it justified the purchase no matter how stupid the story is.

My problem with this story is simple; it’s a murder mystery about someone who was never murdered.  When reading it I was so excited to find out how it actually happened, who did it, and how they got away with it.  I sincerely feel like finding out that nobody did it and nobody got away with it was one of the biggest let downs I have had as a reader.  In fact I think it makes a fool out of every single character in a book full of foolish characters.  Now I’m not talking about Salander, she is a badass.  Blomkvist on the other hand is a foolish character and I felt like he was so overdone and ridiculous.  Everywhere he went, no matter the circumstances, the woman he was talking to came on to him and just had to have sex with him.  Now, according to my wife I should get that with Daniel Craig cast in the part but I still don’t buy it.  I just think this was the writer living out his own perverse fantasies through the character he most related with.  Now, I thought how it happened in the book was stupid; Blomkvist finds the woman he is looking for very much alive and then promptly goes on to have sex with her as well, go figure (all victims of extreme sex crimes are interested in spontaneous sex with men they just met right?).  In the movie I thought it was even worse.  When all is said and done Daniel Craig looks up at his board with the family photos on it and realizes the woman he has been looking for is right in the center of the thing.  In forty years no investigator could figure out who she was and he just realizes suddenly who it is and figures it all out? That’s no shocker, that’s not the twist I was looking for and I just cannot get over the disappointment of it.  Amber insist that the story is better in the next two books but I could never bring myself to even bother with them.  Worst ending ever, period. If I missed something vital and just don’t understand then by all means let me know.  I suppose it would make much more sense that I overlooked some vital detail then to think I am the only person who realizes how weak this ending was.  I doubt it, but in the event that I am right and this ending totally blows please leave a comment and lend me some support, I feel alone in this opinion.

There is one more significant problem I have with this story in both the film and the book.  I do not like rape, I do not own many movies in which it happens and it is part of any plot that I find distasteful and disturbing.  Yes I understand that it is a fact of life and something that happens but that doesn’t change the fact that I don’t like seeing it.  It is a morally reprehensible act and the absolute worst thing someone can do to another, be it a woman being taking against her will by a man or man on man like in Deliverance it’s just wrong plain and simple. What happens to Salander is fucked up, for lack of a more appropriate expression.  I didn’t like reading it, I don’t like seeing it, and I don’t enjoy a story in which something this awful happens.  I love to watch movies, and I find most of them sullied by this kind of plot point.  I’m not the kind of person who would turn a blind eye to such a thing because I am really against it but I don’t have to like movies that show it either. Salander’s vengeance in this film may be amazing and awesome but I still don’t like having to see what he did to her.  It takes her to the next level of badass and in truth I do like her as a character.  I don’t generally re-watch a movie when there is a scene I feel I must skip (except in the case of Team America: World Police because while I don’t want to see those puppets getting freaky or vomiting relentlessly I still can’t get enough of the rest). My problem with rape may actually be the reason I hated this story so much in general.  I was excited to find out who this killer was and all I found out was about how demented and monstrous these rapists and sex criminals were.  Sex crimes are ugly and awful things.  I didn’t find the things that happened in the book shocking but repulsive and disappointing.  I expect there to be these kinds of awful people out there in the world, it doesn’t surprise me at all it only upsets me to see it unfold in words or on screen.

I will admit this movie was very well made and a lot of people did some really great work to get it made. It is not for me though, I will gladly watch Rooney Mara walk around naked when her character makes the decision to do so and is not being forced, but by and large there isn’t anything else here for me.  That being said I’m not going to go any farther with this review.  I have said my peace about it and welcome your opinions to be left in comments, feel free to completely combat or agree to what I have said. My money bets most will disagree with me.  Given that I am in the minority of opinions in regards to this book and film I don’t think you should accept what I have to say about it and see it yourself if you are interested.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I thought this movie was an incredible adaptation of the book. It wasn’t completely spot on, but they added in all of the scenes that mattered. I have read all three of these books by Stieg Larson. The second and third books are the best ones, and I can’t wait until they come out. How this story plays out is twisted and unpredictable. The woman in the story had a horrendous childhood. Her father used to beat her mother, and her mother was one out of a couple of girlfriends he had. We find out a lot more about her upbringing and relationship with her father in the next two movies/books. Rooney Mara looked exactly like what I envisioned in my head. She did an incredible job with this role. I believed in her, I saw her pain and felt it. This movie is a little graphic and crude, but that’s what makes it so honest. Daniel Craig did okay in this movie. I pictured Blomkvist a little more gritty and not as attractive as he is in this film. Which reminds me, all authors seem to put their own character in the book, and Stieg did this through Blomkvist. He uses this character to sleep with any and all women. It’s a bit silly, but I would probably do the same thing. (Maybe not sleep with everyone, but perhaps my main character was covered in tattoos? 🙂 )

The-girl-with-the-Dragon-Tattoo-Movie-PosterMaybe I am just biased, but I LOVE this poster. I think it was a gutsy risk to make this an all black poster. I think it fits the mood of the movie, but it isn’t going to stand out when it is sitting beside the other releases. I love the way they showed both of the main characters on the front. As most of you know by now, I hate it when a poster tries to fit in everyone in the movie. This is an example of how to do it right. You get the character of Blomkvist and Lisbeth right away. The font choice is great for this movie, but I wish the typography was a little more tight.

This movie was great and I can’t wait to see the next two. The story gets really crazy.

girl-with-dragon-tattoo-uncensored-posterRyan here again, this is the unedited poster for the film that I think was only displayed overseas where sexuality isn’t so taboo. I felt compelled to add it the bottom of this review because, well, it’s awesome isn’t it?  I saw this poster online before the movie came out and I was immediately interested in the movie despite what I thought of the book. Again, Rooney Mara looks really good in this one as you can plainly see.  There is just something about such a dangerous woman that makes her really sexy.

The Jacket

Year: 2005
Directed By: John Maybury
Written By: Tom Bleeker, Marc Rocco, and Massy Tadjedin

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is a weird movie but when I was in college I saw something in it that I liked.  It does have an interesting story that will keep you guessing but frankly that isn’t really enough now.  This movie has a strange tone to it and an awful music score that creates a mood I’m not able to pinpoint. I can’t figure out if I’m supposed to be sad, scared, confused, or interested at different times throughout the film. There is this one musical note that plays over and over continuously at different stretches throughout the film and it’s just unnerving. When we started this movie I was excited because it had been a long time since we had seen it and I couldn’t remember much about it.  All I remembered was that I liked it enough to buy it and I was looking forward to seeing what it was that I liked about it years ago.

We are now over half way through the movie and I have conceded to Amber.  She has been sitting here the whole time telling me this was a stupid movie and I told her to simply be patient.  She is right, when she’s right she’s right, and in this case I have had to relinquish.  This is a stupid movie, it’s really really stupid.  Yet it has woven a story that I feel compelled to see an end to all the same. Check that, the farther we get into the movie the dumber it all seems.

First of all, despite Back to the Future 2I think the idea of time travel into the future is ridiculous.  The future hasn’t happened yet.  In the already ridiculous idea that time travel exists I think that going forward is totally out of the question.  That’s just a pet peeve and I could be totally wrong about it as well, I’m no physicist. I think that the idea in this movie, that Adrien Brody time travels to the future under the circumstances he is in, is completely ridiculous and I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking when I bought the movie.  The idea of him falling in love with this girl in the future, having sex with her, and then visiting her as a little girl in the present is weird.  In fact that is borderline creepy and possibly toppling over into the full blown pervish zone. This doesn’t even cover all of it but I feel like going deeper would be a waste of my time.  This movie is ridiculous in so many ways that I feel embarrassed and can only chalk it up to ignorance in adolescence as to why we own it.

I have to seriously re-evaluate my opinion of Adrien Brody.  I had reluctantly become a fan over the years but since Splice I just haven’t been sure what to make of him. What is it I came to like about this strange looking guy and the weirdo movie roles he chooses to play? There is a point in this movie when he is talking to Keira Knightley, who plays the adult version of the young girl we met earlier in the film, and he keeps asking her “don’t you remember me?” What he should have been saying was, “look at my nose, you don’t forget one that looks like this, was there any other time in your life you saw an adult male as skinny as me?” How did this guy get into the business of acting anyway and how did he headline so many movies? I will say for the record too, that had Brody not banged the freaky monster in Splice I wouldn’t be so critical of him, or his role in this movie. He has made many films I have enjoyed but I find myself second guessing him now despite his better roles.

As for the rest of the cast I think they all look good on paper but didn’t really fit right in the movie.  I have always only seen Keira Knightley as a poor man’s Natalie Portman.  I was never a fan of the Pirates of the Caribbean  movies and outside of that I haven’t seen anything she has done that one would call distinguishing.  She doesn’t do much in this movie distinguishing either simply playing the part of a miserable bitch who had an unfortunate hand dealt her in life.  Kris Kristofferson may have been great as Whistler but otherwise I haven’t been impressed.  In this movie I think he is out of place and has a weird way of doing things as a doctor.  Daniel Craig sure has come a long way in the last eight years from where we saw him in this movie.  I think he was one of the better actors in this movie and I liked his role but he is better than this.  It was early in his transition to an American star and certainly played an important part as a stepping stone for him in that process.  He is a big time actor now and I am a fan of what he has accomplished.  I’m not a fan of his Bond movies but nevertheless think he was a great choice for the role.  Jennifer Jason Leigh plays an important role in the movie and does it well enough but I don’t think she ever really fully reached her potential as an actress.  She was very talented and showed a lot of promise over the years but never really got to the top.  Blink and you will miss him in this movie; Brad Renfro plays a really small but significant part as well.  The boy that America fell in love with after The Client never could really get it together. Unfortunately he died young only a few years after this movie was made.  If I’m not mistaken I think it was a drug overdose that did him in.

This movie gets a relatively high rating on IMDB but take it from me, this is a stupid movie.  If you are reading this as a big fan then by all means leave me an argument in comments and tell me I am wrong.  I at one time too was a fan of this movie so you will find me sympathetic.  If you haven’t seen this movie then don’t waste your time because it’s not worth it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

What. A. Stupid. Movie.

jacket

I hardly even want to write about this poster. I have had a hard time watching anything with Adrien Brody ever since we watched Splice.

Ok. I don’t like the poster. There is this feathery glow around their faces and then it just cuts to another photograph at the bottom. The transition is rough and doesn’t flow well. And I really hate the typography of the title. I think you can be a little less cliché and still put forth a thriller movie vibe. Bad movie, bad poster.

NEXT MOVIE: Jackie Brown (1997)