George Clooney

Intolerable Cruelty

Year: 2003
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Several contributors including the Coen brothers

RYAN’S REVIEW

This movie came out during a time when I had recently discovered the Coen brothers and thought they were the greatest duo in the business.  For that matter, I still think they are two of the greatest filmmakers out there but I do not think this was their best movie.  I think it is a good movie that features so much of what makes them great.  The elaborate set design, the witty dialogue, and the interesting characters that are always featured in their films are all in this one. The Coen brothers are also really great when it comes to casting their films.  This movie, like many of their others, is driven by the powerful performances of the actors they chose to cast.

The main two stars of this film are Catherine Zeta-Jones and George Clooney.  I have never been a fan of either really although I have enjoyed many of their movies. This movie was Zeta-Jone’s follow-up to her Academy Award winning role in Chicago. She showed an incredible amount of talent in Chicago so I cannot say she isn’t a good actress but I have always thought of her more as just a pretty face.  She is a very beautiful woman but I always felt that was all that kept her in the movies because outside of Chicago I don’t think she has had a stellar career. She plays her part in this movie well but I don’t know that there is any honor to be had in playing this role well.  She is a cruel and bloodsucking woman in this movie and this part is probably a big part of why I don’t care for her that much.  Clooney is good in this movie as he is good in many movies but I just cannot stand the man.  No matter what he does or how many good movies he makes I will never get over his horrible stint as Batman in one of the worst movies of all time, Batman & Robin. He destroyed the Batman franchise with that role, he should be ashamed of himself.

I think some of the other actors, even in the smallest of roles, manage to outshine the stars of the film a bit.  I think Cedric the Entertainer was hilarious as Gus Petch and really thought this was the beginning of great things to come from him. I haven’t seen him in anything lately but I do think he is really funny. Geoffrey Rush is an amazing actor who is as talented as they come.  I love the opening scene when he catches his wife having an affair.  He has such a great accent that works well for both humor or evil and I like how it gives him diversity as an actor. I am a fan of Richard Jenkins and he is in many Coen brothers movies.  I think he is really funny in this one playing the part of Freddie Bender.  I don’t necessarily think Billy Bob Thorton did anything spectacular in his role but he was a hot commodity at the time this movie came out.  I have never understood it but the guy was so popular. I guess a lot of it had to do with his relationship with Angelina Jolie, which was weird enough to keep everybody interested.

Watching this movie now I can see what it was that I liked about it ten years ago.  It is clever and well made.  Today I don’t really care for it quite as much because it is all about divorce.  There is nothing funny about divorce and I specifically don’t like movies about it.  This one mostly mocks the practice of money grubbing marriages though so I don’t know that it really qualifies the same way.  These are loveless marriages all about sex and philandering and greed.  It’s still divorce though and all these kinds of divorces do is sully something that is already dirty.

Despite that this is still a good movie and I think it is worth your time.  It may not be the best Coen bros’ movie but it is still a Coen Bros movie and this means there is something to it.  These guys are the best even when they aren’t at their best.  It’s been ten years since this movie came out now and I think there is a good chance in another ten years it will be a movie nobody remembers.  So check it out if you have a chance and let us know what you think.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I still love these guys, but this is by far my least favorite of the Coen Brothers movies. I love all of their films. They are witty and interesting tales. Like books made into incredible movies, except they wrote the books themselves and you can see every single detail that is their style throughout their films, much like a Tim Burton film. I just didn’t like the whole story. The movie was shot well and is interesting enough, but I didn’t really love the story of divorce lawyers and marrying for money. I figure that this story has already been told, and usually the Coens’ stories are so original.

MPW-7461

This is a very clean poster. Nothing really special. You have the movie tagline, followed by an off center picture of them, and then the billing and title at the bottom. I love a nice sans serif font, so I don’t hate this poster, it is actually really nice, but I just don’t think that it is anything special.

NEXT MOVIE: I, Robot (2004)

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From Dusk Till Dawn

Year: 1996
Directed By: Robert Rodriguez
Written By: Robert Kurtzman (story) Quentin Tarantino (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I don’t know that I have ever watched any other film that does a 180 quite like this one.  This movie offers one of the most dramatic changes in direction that I have ever seen in any movie but I think that is part of what makes it memorable.  For the first half of the movie there is a completely different tone to it and absolutely no hint of what is to come.  Suddenly, seriously out of nowhere, it becomes a movie about vampires.  It’s cool in this case though because it was before vampires would completely consume our culture and wear out their welcome. I have never been a fan of vampires that turn into creepy ass monsters but these vampires aren’t supposed to be cool they are supposed to be scary, or at the very least just silly. This isn’t my favorite film from either of the filmmakers but I think it has many elements that make it a worthy film.

One of the things I think makes this film most significant was that it advanced the career of Robert Rodriguez.  It was his second collaboration with Quentin Tarantino and it would go on to start a franchise and acquire a large cult following. I am a big fan of any time Tarantino and Rodriguez collaborate but I actually think Rodriguez is the better of the pair, not including Inglourious Basterds which was phenomenal. I have never understood why Tarantino has insisted on acting in many of those collaborations but he isn’t bad in this one.  I think he is well suited for the role of a hot headed pervert as it happens though so it works out really well in this case. Rodriguez is ever the king of cool and can always deliver on exciting action so his movies are always great.

It’s not often that I admit this but every so often George Clooney plays a part that is really cool.  I normally cannot stand Clooney but he is pretty badass in this movie, and it’s pre-Batman and Robin so I suppose that makes it OK. There were five other actors approached to play his part before he was offered the role though.  Michael Madsen, John Travolta, Christopher Walkin, Steve Buscemi, and Tim Roth all had scheduling conflicts and ultimately Clooney was approached and accepted.  I think he did a good job; he played a really cool bad guy.  I have always been a big fan of Juliette Lewis, she has a really interesting story and I wish she was in more movies currently.  She doesn’t do anything special in this movie but plays her part well enough.  Salma Hayek is sexy as only Salma Hayek can be and I remember hating the filmmakers briefly for making her so ugly all of a sudden and interrupting her strip tease. I think Harvey Keitel is awful in this movie but I normally like him a lot. I don’t think he was right for the role at all. This movie has several Rodriguez regulars as well playing smaller roles such as Danny Trejo, Cheech Marin, and Tom Savini.

This was a really cool movie that all of a sudden took a nose dive and got really silly.  I think that this is these two guys (Tarantino and Rodriguez) just having a good time and doing something they think is fun.  Watching it this time I felt stupid having told Amber to pay attention to it.  There seems to be no end to the silliness at certain times such as when the vampire band is playing instruments made of body parts and people eventually just start exploding from gunshot wounds.  Despite all that I still see something in this movie that makes it worth the time to watch it.  You would probably be taking a gamble if you chose this to watch one evening but there is plenty of potential so you might like it too, it is worth a shot.

AMBER’S REVIEW

What the heck did Ryan just make me watch? I have to admit that I like both Tarantino and Rodriguez. They are both very talented writers and movie makers. Having said that (my co-workers would kill me for saying that), I am not a fan of this movie. The dramatic change in story line is ridiculous. Everyone I talked to about this movie all seemed to love it and think that I was crazy for not finding it incredibly interesting. I tried to put myself back in time to when this movie came out, because then I am sure the vampire craze wasn’t so prevalent. Maybe I should give the movie another chance someday before really bashing it. If you are in to strange movies that have variable storylines this is your movie.

NEXT MOVIE: Full Metal Jacket (1987) 

Movies By Request

O Brother, Where Art Thou

Year: 2001
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Homer (The Odyssey), Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

More than anything this movie reminds me of my time at Action Video when I was 16. This movie was one of our hottest renters on a regular basis even long after it had been released on video.  I didn’t watch the movie then and apparently haven’t seen it ever before. The soundtrack from this movie was played relentlessly by my father when it came out and that probably had a lot to do with why I didn’t see it.  I had also yet to discover who the Coen brothers were at that point in my young movie watching life.

The Coen brothers are two of the best in the business and they are unique because they do it all, on all of their movies.  They write all their films themselves, then direct, produce, and edit all by themselves as well. They always create interesting characters and write really clever dialogue for them. This film is no different either; it is clever and extremely well written.  The Coen brothers took the classic epic poem “The Odyssey” by Homer and loosely rewrote the story to take place in the Deep South during the Great Depression. The movie stars George Clooney, who the Coens have had success with a few times.  I have never liked Clooney though; all I can ever see is the worst Batman of all time no matter what he is in.  He plays a good part in this film, but I detest him nonetheless.  John Turturro is another Coen regular and I think he is great in just about everything he does.  John Goodman, yet another Coen regular, has a fantastic role in the film and he is probably my favorite thing about the movie. Tim Blake Nelson was appropriately cast for his role in the film; the Coens have a gift for finding the right people.

This movie is immensely popular, in fact it is one of the more popular films made by two of my favorite directors.  I can completely see what people like about it too but I have just never liked this one and always have a hard time trying to watch it.  I detest country music to the point that I kind of go a little insane in my head every time I hear it, I loathe the sound of it.  It’s a personal issue I have that I can’t really explain.  While I know that the music in this movie isn’t country, it is country enough to set off one of my weirder and more insane tendencies. The number one song from this movie is a good song, I can admit that, but I just cringe every time I hear it and it has a knack for getting stuck in my head for days. Beyond that I don’t really like the coloring technique the Coens used or the time setting of the film.  Not to mention Clooney, despite all his witty lines in the film it is still Clooney. I can clearly see that this is a great film and I know why people like it so much.  I just have really weird reasons for never giving it a chance and those same reasons prove too much to get past for me while watching it.

Do not take my advice when it comes to this movie.  Give it a chance yourself and you will probably find that you feel completely different than me.  I have weird and unusual reasons for not liking this movie and even I recognize how ridiculous that is.  Every single person I know disagrees with me on this and thinks I’m crazy for not loving this movie. Based on that reality I’m going to suggest that while I may not like this movie, it is still more than likely worth your time.

Burn After Reading

Year: 2008
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen

RYAN’S REVIEW

This is not the best Coen Brothers film and in fact it isn’t even one of their better ones but there is a lot to like about this film.  It has an awesome intro that is very funny but overall the film tends to go up and down.  I may be somewhat biased in my criticism though. While I always think highly of the Coens I do have a big problem with infidelity and so much of this film is about infidelity. I am a child of divorce and grew up as the inadvertent victim of infidelity and because of that I get uncomfortable and weird when seeing it.  Like all Coen Brother movies there are a lot of weird things going on in this one, but the positive aspects make it worth our wild.

There is a great cast on hand in this one. John Malkovich gets the movie started with a great outburst and his character is so constantly funny.  Brad Pitt is hilarious and he plays his part well but I felt like this was when we were really starting to see his age.  He was 45 when this movie came and trying to play the part of a much younger man.  He is still great and his character has one of the best moments in the film (with Clooney, coming out of the closet). What makes it so funny is the look on his face when he pops out of the closet. He has this expression that is ready to explain it all “no big deal man I was just hanging out in here.” Francis McDormand is great in this movie. I really don’t like her character and she looks awful but she is such an amazing actress.  I think J.K. Simmons is great in everything he does, and he is fantastic as the CIA director.  George Clooney and Tilda Swinton also star in the film but I don’t really care much for either.  I tend to think Richard Jenkins brings more to the film actually.  For my thoughts on the directors see my posts for Blood Simple or The Big Lebowski They wrote this movie at the same time they were writing No Country for Old Men. I’ve read that they actually alternated days, working on Burn After Reading one day and No Country the next.

This is a really funny movie but it’s that dark comedy that doesn’t appeal to everybody.  There are also a few scenes that could rival the work of Trey Parker and Matt Stone a la Clooney’s project going on in the basement.  Better yet Clooney’s character in general is a bit much, such a devious pervert. I don’t mind recommending this movie but it’s R rating does need to be taken seriously.  This movie has a lot of great laughs and really memorable scenes, it is definitely worth you time.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is great. It starts out on such an interesting note that you have to keep watching it, just to see how it all comes together. One of my best friends was raised as a Mormon, and in that opening scene they say a line that is one of our all time favorite lines. “I have a drinking problem? Fuck you, Peck, you’re a Mormon. Compared to you we ALL have a drinking problem!” After this line, I was hooked in for the entire movie. It connects all these people in different scenarios into one big story, in true Coen Brothers fashion. The only thing I didn’t really like about this film was the fact that Brad Pitt maybe was a bad choice for his role. I think he did a good job at it, but ultimately I think it would have been better to have him played by someone younger. This movie is worth watching, because all Coen Brothers movies are worth watching.

NEXT MOVIE: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (1969)