Sean Penn

The Game

Year: 1997
Directed By: David Fincher
Written By: John D. Brancato and Michael Ferris


A very good movie. This was early in the career of director David Fincher and I would have watched anything and everything he made back then in the later 90s. This movie is dark, it’s intense, and an absolute thrill ride that keeps you on the edge of your seat in suspense the whole time. I saw this for the first time after I became such a fan of Fight Club and David Fincher.  I thought this movie was very good but the weakest of the three films I had seen from him, Seven being the third.  Being the weakest next to those two films isn’t a bad thing though, they are great movies and that doesn’t make this one bad, it just suffers by comparison.

This movie really keeps you guessing the whole time.  When I saw it I was led to think that it was reasonable to expect so much more to come from Fincher films.  That isn’t how it turned out really and I said as much in our review of Fight ClubThese three Fincher films all wowed me and they are exceptional movies even now. The only thing that makes this the weakest of the three is simply that the other two were SO incredible.  This one is good but the wow moment in the end doesn’t really compare to the box or the realization that Tyler Durden wasn’t real.

I think Michael Douglas is a great actor and it really sucks that he is getting older now. He is very natural in the role he plays here because it is so similar to roles he has plays before.  He is like a more mellow version of Gordon Gecko in this movie. I have never been a big fan of Sean Penn but I have had to eat my words lately regarding him because he was so good in The Assassination of Richard NixonHe plays his part well enough in this movie too playing the younger brother of Michael Douglas. Spike Jonze also makes an uncredited cameo at the end of the movie as a paramedic. While the performances are good in this movie I think the film is driven mainly by the complexity of the story.  There is also a great musical score that goes along with the film and really sets the right tone for the intensity of the movie.

This is one of those movies that will keep you guessing for two hours then make you question everything all over again in the end.  I think we all occasionally find ourselves in the mood for that kind of film and next time that happens to you then you should give this one a try.  It’s not the greatest movie I have ever seen but it is good and it is worth your time to see it.


Isn’t Michael Douglas just, awesome? I really enjoyed this movie. I don’t remember the first time that I watched it, but every now and then I catch it on television and get sucked in all over again. It’s all about this guy who gets the opportunity to play The “Game” and unbeknownst to him, he is actually playing a game with his life. The Game actually becomes his life and we (the viewer) get to watch it unfold. How he reacts to the situations that present themselves is important to his character change throughout the movie. His character in this movie might as well be called Gordon Gecko from Wall Street.

Have I mentioned to you guys that I am a graphic designer? Yup, that’s what helps pay the bills around here. After talking to Ryan about the blog, we thought I may have a good voice on here to review the typography, intros and poster for these movies. This is the movie poster for The Game. I am sure that in 1997 they thought it was really clever to make his head into a puzzle, which of course is a game. Today, we may look at this as a little campy. Especially since the puzzle pieces are falling away into the distance. The typography of The Game is nice, however. A serif font was a good choice for the title and the movie itself.

NEXT MOVIE: Gangs of New York (2002)

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Directed By: Amy Heckerling
Written By: Cameron Crowe


I have written in several other posts about what it is that makes us love high school movies likes this one and all of that applies to this film.  This is a great movie that I always enjoy watching.  It is a good insight into life in the early 80s and it sports an awesome soundtrack with lots of music from the time period. What I find most interesting about all movies like this is that no matter what time period it comes out of the kids are always doing the same things.  They are doing the same things now only they have headphones in their ears and cell phones in their hands.  The great high school films are timeless despite being a product of their time period.  This movie came out before I was born but it has always spoken to me despite my growing up in a completely different time.

I think this was the best of all Amy Heckerling‘s films by far. I like that certain songs are used multiple times to express the mood of the character on screen. I also really like how she incorporates graffiti from so many locations.  I love when Judge Reinhold is practicing what he will say to his girlfriend in front of a mirror with “BIG HAIRY PUSSY” written on it in giant letters.  I have always liked Reinhold and I think he is really great in this movie.  He is just one part of a great cast though.  Phoebe Cates is great here too, and she has such an awesome topless scene set to “Moving in Stereo” by The Cars. Jennifer Jason Leigh is very much the main character in the film and I think she does a great job but she scares the shit out of me because I have daughters. Sean Penn is so classic in this film, he has gone on to have such a great career but I think many of us will always remember him most as the stoner Jeff Spicoli. Ray Walston is great as Mr. Hand, playing a teacher that reminds us all of a teacher we had ourselves.   Forest Whitaker has a small role as the star football player at Ridgemont.  Also taking an important career step in this film is Nicolas Cage before he was Cage.  He was credited as Nicolas Coppola in this film and was only cast as an extra.  Before his career took off he changed his name to Cage to distance himself from his famous relative Francis Ford Coppola.

There is a lot to like about this 80’s high school flick and it is really fun to watch.  It is a great depiction of life in 1982 and I think that makes it special. They are wearing the crazy 80’s clothes and smoking everywhere. The movie did lead to a television show that ran for a while and Amy Heckerling directed it.  I have never seen it though and don’t know much else about it.  If you haven’t seen this film and have the opportunity I would recommend to anyone.  It is an awesome movie that is more than worth your time.


I totally love this movie. It is a classic movie about teens during a certain time period much like Dazed and Confused. There are so many famous actors in this movie that weren’t yet super famous at the time. The amazing Sean Penn plays the stoner that has pizza delivered to class. This movie is a great one because it takes you back to your own high school days and makes you reminisce. I definitely recommend this one. It is light-hearted and fun; a movie that doesn’t make you think too hard about it.

NEXT MOVIE: Fearless (2006)

Movies By Request

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

Year: 2004
Directed By: Niels Mueller
Written By: Niels Mueller and Kevin Kennedy


I despise Sean Penn to the point that I specifically avoid seeing any film that he is in but when one of my co-workers brought this one in I decided to make an exception.  It was an exception I am glad that I made and I unfortunately have to admit that Sean Penn really is as talented as everyone says.  I’m not sure what it is about him but I just can’t stand him. Until now the only film I have ever been able to stomach him in was one of his first films, Fast Times at Ridgemont High. This film is a good forum to showcase his talents though because his performance is the center of the film and he plays the part very well.

I think one of the scariest realities of life is how sometimes we are all subject to the insanity of others.  The people murdered by Samuel Byck had nothing to do with him or with the President he was actually trying to kill.    Richard Nixon didn’t have anything to do with Samuel Byck either but when life became too difficult for him the President became the center of his fixation and his insanity. I did extensive research on Lee Harvey Oswald while I was in college and I was immediately reminded of it when we started watching this movie.  There are many similarities to be seen between the two men but the most striking is the nature of their insanity.  They have certain opinions about how things are supposed to be but they themselves don’t even conform to them. Sam for example quits one job because they “forced him to lie”(actually just doing the job of a salesman) yet lied about being married to get his next job. These men have nothing and no one but for some reason they think they are the ones who have everything figured out.  When they become overwhelmed by the realities of life and how things are going they think they can fix everything by taking out the guy they perceive to be in control of it all.  That guy isn’t in control of everything despite his position as the figure head of the country and these men never understand that.  There is always another politician standing in line to take the job and he isn’t going to change anything either.

This movie chronicles the events leading up until Samuel Byck’s (Biche in the film) attempt to hijack a plane to fly into the White House and kill President Richard Nixon.  In the months before the attempt we see his decent into madness and desperation. He has trouble at work and a failed marriage that he is unable to accept when it is over. He also has big plans for a new business that he is certain will solve all his problems but they fall through after he quits his job. I don’t know how accurate the events leading up until the attempted hijacking are but the hijacking in itself happened exactly the way it is portrayed from what I was able to find out. Byck’s plan was fruitless in real life not only because he wasn’t really prepared for what he was doing but because the President wasn’t even in the White House on the day of the attempt. The movie starts off slow and seems a bit overly dramatic at times but I found myself compelled to keep watching and unable to look away.  This is the kind of movie that I can tell will get better with each viewing and offers a lot to learn about human nature and what desperation can do to some people.

As much as it pains me to admit, Sean Penn is fantastic in this movie and I have to accept how talented he is.  He single handedly carries this film on his own and it is his performance that kept me glued to the screen for the whole 95 minutes. I think this was a great movie and I can already tell I will be thinking about it for days to come.  I enjoy a good movie about a true story but keep in mind what I always say; no film is ever an actual accurate representation of real events. For example this film was originally intended to be a completely fictional story until producers realized that it was so similar to something that actually happened. This film did an exceedingly good job of converting the story to parallel the real events however and I would recommend it to anyone.