Paul Newman

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)

 

The Hudsucker Proxy

Year: 1994
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel Coen, Ethan Coen, and Sam Raimi

RYAN’S REVIEW

I am a huge fan of the Coen brothers and typically like everything they do.  I actually went out of my way to specifically buy this movie for the blog a year ago.  Having finally reached it at the end of the “H” section on our DVD rack I am disappointed in my decision to make the purchase.  This is a really great movie with all the Coen brothers’ talent on hand, but I just don’t like it.  I don’t know if it’s the time period of the setting, the gloomy look of the movie, or the stars on hand but I just can’t get on board with this one.

I can clearly see how good the movie is, but nothing about it appeals to me.  The fast talking style of most of the characters really displays the talent of the actors playing the parts but I don’t care for it.  Specifically Jennifer Jason Leigh does a wonderful job, and Paul Newman is every bit as talented as he always was.  I have never been a big Tim Robbins fan though, and I loathe that stupid expression he has on his face throughout the whole film.

This movie offers many classic scenes and a story that I’m sure would appeal to many people.  Don’t take my word on this one because it’s a Coen brothers film and they are always worth your time.  On this one anyway I will tell you that my not liking it says nothing about the quality of the film itself.  Despite my opinion of the film I’m going to tell you that it is still worth your time to see it and maybe you will enjoy it more than I did.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I love this movie. I think it is hilarious and true to its makers. The Coen Brothers are known for their very unique style and shtick. You can usually tell you are watching a Coen Brothers movie when the characters are very exaggerated. Think about Marge in Fargo. “O ya, ya say!” This movie stretches it even further. The accents are out there and the actions are out there. Everything is very much Coen Brothers, but stretched out a little further to really tell this story. I love them all, and this one is a great one too. You should see all the Coen Brothers movies. They are definitely two of the greatest movie makers out there today.

And the poster. It feels the theme and time period of the movie. I don’t love it, but I don’t hate it either. I really wish they would have just let Tim Robbins take on the poster alone. I think if they would have simplified the poster a little bit, it would feel cleaner and easier to bring people in.

NEXT MOVIE: Hustle & Flow (2005)

Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid

Year: 1969
Directed By: George Roy Hill
Written By: William Goldman

RYAN’S REVIEW

I have never been a big fan of westerns and don’t own many, but I do love the classics. Newman and Redford were so iconic in the title roles.  For a long time I had a poster hanging in my home of the final shot of the film where Butch and Sundance go out fighting.  This is a great movie but there isn’t much I can say about it that hasn’t already been said. Newman and Redford are great, the story is great, and the movie is a lot of fun.

I don’t know very much about the true story this film is based on but I do know a little.  I have always had a deep fascination with organized crime and have studied its history often.  In the studies I once came across Butch Cassidy in an encyclopedia of mobsters.  Butch Cassidy used to go around to farms out west and tell the ranchers that they needed to pay him for protection or else their cattle would be stolen.  If they didn’t pay then he would steal their cattle and blame it on others.  It was simple extortion but it was something the American mob did fervently in its early days and I have always found the correlation interesting.

You don’t need me to tell you to see this film because you have no doubt already seen it, if you haven’t then I would hope you can take my word for it at this point.  This movie is worth your time and I think you will enjoy it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I get why this movie is loved, I do, but it is not for me. I have seen it about a dozen times now, but every time we watch it I find myself dozing off or thinking about something else. I understand it’s value, it’s just not a movie that I love. Having said that, it is still one of those movies that you need to see before you die.

NEXT MOVIE: The Butterfly Effect (2004)