Paul Sorvino

The Rocketeer

Year: 1991
Directed By: Joe Johnson
Written By: Dave Stevens (original character) Danny Bilson, Paul De Meo, and William Dear (story and screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

In 1991 I was seven years old and already a huge fan of this type of film and character. Thanks to the likes of He-Man, Flash Gordon, Batman, and of course the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles I was already a veteran of films about heroes. They were my favorite and along came this lovable Disney movie about a guy with a really cool looking costume flying around with a jetpack. On top of that he was going head to head with Nazis a la Indiana Jones style. I remember seeing this movie in the theater multiple times going to work with my dad at that young age and I absolutely loved it.

For a time I even demanded my mother fix my hair just like Cliff Seacord with that part in the middle although my hair would never look right. I also really wanted one of those bitchin red leather jackets that button up all the way across the front, though I’d never be able to rock that either. Even today, if I were able to get my hands on a replica of the Rocketeer’s helmet it would be displayed in a prime place among all my cool fan boy crap. The funny thing is that Cliff Seacord, played by Billy Campbell, was the kind of character only a seven year old could love. I hold him in nostalgic honor now as “that cool guy that was the Rocketeer,” but in all honesty a better actor could have made a more memorable movie.

Somehow Campbell managed to beat out several actors such as Emilio Estevez, Matthew Modine, Kevin Costner, Dennis Quaid, and Kurt Russell. All of whom where arguably at the high points of their respective careers. If Billy Campbell ever went on to do anything else of significance I am unfamiliar with it. He had the benefit of a great supporting cast to make him look better though. Alan Arkin is such a talented actor and he brings something great to every thing he is a part of. Timothy Dalton makes for a great villain as the undercover Nazi with the terrifying henchman at his disposal. Paul Sorvino is in his natural role as a cool mobster who will break the law but isn’t working for any damn Nazi. Jennifer Connelly is also noteworthy as the pretty damsel in distress.

I remember back in 2010 being surprised to see that Joe Johnson was going to be the guy behind camera on the highly anticipated Captain America: The First Avenger. When the name was first reported I had to look him up. While I saw a few notable films, The Rocketeer was the one that jumped out at me and a ton of memories about this movie came flooding back to me. It was then that I decided to add this movie to the collection and I don’t think it was a mistake.

This movie holds special value to me because for a while it was my favorite during a tough time in childhood. Setting that aside I still think this is a really cool movie. Disney has always been able to make a fun and exciting movie that was appropriate for all ages. This movie has cool bad guys, mobsters, airplanes, sword fights, Nazis, the legend of aviation Howard Hughes, and Hollywood all rolled into one. It’s a movie that this day in age no one remembers and few have even heard of it. That doesn’t change anything about the film because I’ll stand by this one. This movie is worth your time and I hope you enjoy it as much as I did and do.

NEXT MOVIE: Role Models (2008)

 

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Money Talks

Year: 1997
Directed By: Brett Ratner
Written By: Joel Cohen and Alec Sokolow

RYAN’S REVIEW

OK maybe this movie doesn’t belong.  Maybe it’s simply a vehicle to showcase the talents of Chris Tucker. Talents which Brett Ratner would utilize to the max in coming years.  I love Chris Tucker, I didn’t watch all the Rush Hour movies because I had seen this one and it was enough.  The guy does a mean Michael Jackson impression; his Tony Montana is good as well but I find that one too stereotypical.  This movie was part of the family movie collection I grew up with so that’s the main reason we own it.  I don’t know if my parents would ever admit it or not but they loved Chris Tucker.  Even Friday sat on the shelf and it was probably the most out of place movie in the family collection. Chris Tucker has fallen out of the spotlight for a long time now but he had a significant role in Silver Lining Playbook so hopefully he is in the early stages of a comeback.

Is it necessary to discuss anything beyond Chris Tucker in this film? 1997 was not a time when Charlie Sheen was “winning” and when you look at his performance in this film you can understand why.  Heather Locklear has never been more than a pretty face.  Paul Sorvino is boss in everything he does but there is only so much he can do to enhance the film.  This film starts and stops with Chris Tucker and that’s all good because Tucker was quite the character in his time. What I love about this movie is it’s more Raw than the family friendly Rush Hour movies ever could have been.  I love the unfiltered version of Tucker in his element.  I thought his performance in The Fifth Element was specifically impressive and I am a loyal fan of whatever he is doing, excluding the Rush Hour movies.

This film reminds me so much of the nineties.  It seemed like the time for movies with lots of language and action with unnecessary explosions. Maybe movies like this are still being made only I just don’t watch them anymore.  I’ve mentioned it many times throughout this blog but it is the type of film I grew up watching.  I like this one by comparison too.  It’s all about Chris Tucker because it’s his humor and personality that drive the film.  The way I see them most of these films were the same.  At the end of the day the only difference was who played the lead role and how many bad guys he killed.  This is different from that as Tucker isn’t a badass killing all the bad guys but I think it still fits in with that same type of film. This has all the witty dialogue of a Shane Black film, enough fire power to compete with any Stallone or Schwarzenegger film, and a car chase with a classic automobile to boot. It works, while not Die Hardesque enough, it still fits with that genre of action films we saw in the 80s and 90s.  That time back before mainstream internet use and before we were accessible at all times by way of cell phone.

This is a fun movie and I have enjoyed watching it again.  It’s an easily forgettable film but if you ever get a chance to see it you should give it your attention.  It is worth your time to see because it is fun.  It’s not suitable for your kids to watch but if your looking for something to kill an evening on your own with you can’t go wrong watching this one.  Chris Tucker makes the most of his opportunity and everyone else does just well enough to keep everything moving along smoothly. Under most circumstances I will tell you not to waste your time with anything made by Brett Ratner but this is a rare, possibly only, exception.  This Ratner film is worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I have seen this movie so many times, but in different pieces as it use to play on television all the time. We all know how stations like TBS get a hold of one movie and play it over and over and over again. This is a silly movie, but is ultimately funny and easy to watch. It is definitely one of those movies that you can watch and do something else, if just for some background comedy. I don’t really know anyone who hasn’t at least seen parts of this flick.

money-talks

Well, it’s a movie poster. I guess the personalities of the characters come through in this poster. And if you didn’t know what money looks like, they illustrate it for you. The typography is red and yellow. RED AND YELLOW. Maybe it’s because anything retail makes my eye twitch. This title even has a drop shadow, so do the typography of the actor names. I think it is quite obvious that I do not like this poster. Not at all. Too staged and too retail-looking. Not a fan. Definitely not the comedic print piece to accompany this comedy.

NEXT MOVIE: Monster’s Ball (2001)

Goodfellas

Year: 1990
Directed By: Martin Scorsese
Written By: Nicholas Pileggi

RYAN’S REVIEW

After The Godfather, this is far and away the next greatest mafia movie that has ever been made.  Nothing can and will ever touch The Godfather but this film is the standard I set all other modern mob movies against. I was only six years old when this movie came out so I don’t remember the reaction it got when it was released.  I wish I could have been around for it. It came out the same year as The Godfather Part III and must have completely blown it away. The Godfather III was actually nominated for more Academy Awards that year but so was Dick Tracy and neither are even half as good as this film. This is one of Scorsese’s best films and it has always been one of my favorite mafia movies.

The opening scene in this movie does a great job setting the tone for the film.  Everything is all cool but brace yourself because at any moment you might be subject to sudden and savage violence.  The movie begins with three legendary actors riding in a car, they look to have been doing some partying.  Then suddenly there is a noise and it turns out they have a body in the trunk, and the guy is still alive.  Joe Pesci and Robert De Niro brutally finish him off and that is what sends Ray Liotta into a voice over about how he always wanted to be a mobster. I think this is the kind of film that really satisfies the latent desires we all have to look into the world of the bad guys. We see this kind of ferocity all of a sudden and somehow it makes sense that he says that line right at that moment.

This movie is based on a true story but like all movies based on a true story it has to be taken with a grain of salt.  I have researched before how close this movie was to the truth but that was years ago.  If I remember correctly it isn’t completely accurate but isn’t that far off either.  What I found most compelling about that research was that Henry Hill, the character Ray Liotta plays, was still alive and not in hiding.  Not only was he not in hiding but he was a regular guest on The Howard Stern radio show.  Something about that crushed my ideas about the  mob because not only had they done nothing to the traitor that sent so many to jail but he was bold enough to live out in the open with no repercussions.  Henry Hill actually did die recently, of natural causes and I think that proves we all have unrealistic ideas about the power of the mafia.  They are not super powerful or the threat that we like to think they are.  If Henry Hill, who betrayed and then cashed in on his experiences in the mafia, can die of natural causes then what makes the mob any better than any other petty criminal? The truth is they aren’t, in reality they are just uneducated and often idiot men who gain their power through brutality and taking advantage of weaker people.

Joe Pesci won the Academy Award for his role in this movie beating out the likes of Al Pacino (nominated for Dick Tracy) and Andy Garcia (nominated for The Godfather III).  I don’t think that he was actually aware he was going to win because he wasn’t prepared.  Unless it has been broken now, he holds the record for the shortest acceptance speech for a winner of his award.  All he said was “Thank you, it’s an honor” if I remember correctly.  I think that was awesome though, I have always really liked Joe Pesci and the fact that he just took the award and walked off makes me like him even more.  Pesci is a little guy but in all his mob movies he tends to be the most violent and dangerous one.  He is savage in this movie, and possibly even more brutal in CasinoYet he can still be so funny in a movie like Home Alone or My Cousin VinnyPesci played many memorable and awesome characters during his career but I have always wanted more of him.  He is almost 70 years old now and doesn’t seem to be as interested in staying in the limelight as guys like Anthony Hopkins or Michael Caine.  It’s unfortunate but we will always have his greatest movies like this one to enjoy.

I have never really been a big fan of Ray Liotta but he owns it in this movie.  As Henry Hill he gave his greatest performance.  He was the centerpiece of this movies standing next to much more notable actors like De Niro and Pesci but he holds up well and delivers. I love when he attacks the neighbor that came onto to his girlfriend.  The ferocious way he beat the guys face in leaves quite an impression.  I also love that in the very next scene Liotta and Bracco are getting married. Robert De Niro is great in this movie, outside of his role as Vito Corleone I think this is his best mobster part.  De Niro has always been great though and it is really hard to pick and choose when discussing what was his best.  In this movie De Niro is cool, ruthless, and unpredictable.  He was great in this movie and he continues to be great as an actor even today.  I also like Paul Sorvino in this film but little else he has done over his career has impressed me.

As with for the rest of the cast I think they were all great. I have also found it interesting how The Sopranos seemed to take so many of the supporting cast from this movie for their series. That starts with Lorraine Bracco who had the largest role of all of them in this film.  She is great in this film and was incredible as Dr. Melfi.  Showing a beauty that was ageless so many years later.  Other Sopranos cast members from this movie include Paulie Walnuts, Big Pussy, Christopher Moltisanti, Larry Boy Barese, Phil Leotardo, and Carmela’s mother.  Those are just the ones I noticed this time around and I’m sure there might be more.  I think it says something about the influence this movie had on the genre that so many people from the film were used in the series though.  Like many people, I was a huge fan of the HBO series and wish it had never ended.

This is an incredible movie and I can’t say enough about how much I love it.  It made me fall in love with the mafia more than any other film before it.  As a teen I was so entranced by the lifestyle they lived and at that juvenile age wanted to grow up and do the same thing.  Those were foolish thoughts that fortunately I grew out of, but I imagine many people that see this movie feel the same way regardless of age. The really great movies leave a lasting impression on the people that watch them and I think this movie had that effect.  It is a great movie that I recommend to anyone I meet who hasn’t seen it, which it rare.  This one is worth your time but you don’t need me to tell you that, everyone else will tell you the same.

AMBER’S REVIEW

I remember the first time that Ryan made me watch this movie. I loved it then and I love it now. I think this movie is different from the regular cliche mobster movies. This one is told from the actual point of view of an actual ex mobster. When you know that already going in it makes the movie a lot more interesting. I am sure that Ryan wrote all about the movie’s intricate details so I will go ahead and skip to the design.

Goodfellas Movie

This is an image of the DVD cover. I have to admit that I am not crazy about this. I do like the three main actors on the front and how the stark values and shadows allow them to fade into the black background. I feel like this should have taken up the entire front. Instead, there is the bottom of the cover where someone is lying dead under the bridge. I think they were trying to hard to show too much. I know what they were trying to do, but it doesn’t work for me. I do love the typography. I think it works for the movie.

NEXT MOVIE: The Goonies (1985) 

Dick Tracy

Year: 1990
Directed By: Warren Beatty
Written By: James Cash & Jack Epps Jr.

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was six years old when this movie came out, and I watched it about a million times.  It’s a movie that inspired my love of action films as well as comic book themes. The color coordination really hooked me in as a six year old too.  Turns out the main colors of the film are yellow, orange, green, red, blue, and purple plus black and white. Which are the six colors the comic appeared in when originally published. Twenty-two years later and I still like what Warren Beatty did with this film and his use of the colors at hand.  This film is so bright it resembles a Tim Burton film, especially with Danny Elfman doing the score.  That’s a good thing though, I think this movie has a timeless quality that will help it live on forever, or until the inevitable reboot because studios are too stupid to come up with new ideas these days.

I like everything Warren Beatty did behind the camera as director of this movie.  Not just the color coordination but the style, the sets, the cars, the walkie-talkie watches, and the costumes are all top of the line. Beatty is also great in the role of the title character, he rocks the hell out of that yellow fedora. Al Pacino is always an excellent choice for the mob boss.  Under a lot of make-up he does a great job of playing Big Boy Caprice, based on the Chicago mob boss Al Capone. Pacino was nominated for an Academy Award for best supporting actor for the role but didn’t win.  Madonna plays her part well; she is really sexy and seductive as Breathless Mahoney.  She was one of the many women to jump start my sex drive at a very young age and it was this role that did it. At the age of six my parents thought I wasn’t old enough to see her doing anything else.  This film has a terrific supporting cast beyond those top three including Paul SorvinoDustin HoffmanWilliam ForsytheDick Van DykeJames Caan,  and Kathy Bates.  There is also Charlie Korsmo in the role of The Kid, he was in a few movies I loved as a child in the early 90s then mainly disappeared.

This was the cops and robbers story I identified the most with as a child.  It had a strong hero who always knew what to do, a large variety of really animated bad guys, and a big time shoot out in the end. It offered scenes that my imagination was really able to run wild with and it helped aid in my young creative spirit. This is a film I would recommend to anybody and I have really enjoyed seeing it again. This movie is worth your time if you get the opportunity to see it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is beautiful. I feel like this movie is an animated film, that isn’t actually animated. The colors are completely vivid and pretty and the characters are made up in a way that doesn’t even seem possible for the time period that this movie was made. Madonna looks exquisite in this film. I remember watching this movie when I was younger and not really ever knowing exactly what was happening, but watching it now I still really like this movie. It has action and suspense and is made in such a whimsical way. I think that Warren Beatty is one of the only men in the world that could actually pull off wearing that classic yellow hat and jacket.

This film is well worth your time of you haven’t seen it. It has a little something for everyone and is a movie you should definitely see in your lifetime.

NEXT MOVIE: Die Hard (1988)