Tom Hanks

Saving Private Ryan

Year: 1998
Directed By: Steven Spielberg
Written By: Robert Rodat

RYAN’S REVIEW

I saw this movie several times in the theater, but there was one distinct experience watching it that I will never forget. It’s a story that matters little when discussing such a fine film but it mattered a lot to me. As for the movie, it’s a great war movie made by one of the greatest directors of all time and starring one of the best actors of his generation.

I think I had already watched this movie three times when I got a phone call during dinner one night. There was a big Pro Wrestling event in town and two of the stars were currently watching this movie at the local theater that I just happened to spend most of my time in. My brother and I bolted from the table mid dinner for the chance to encounter Diamond Dallas Page and The Giant, or some may know him as The Big Show or some other name I am unfamiliar with. They were just watching this movie and my brother and I were just eager fans waiting to flank them when they were out in the world.

We made it to the theater maybe half way through the film and took a seat on the back row. We were sitting maybe two or three rows back from men we perceived to be legends. In truth I was a fan of neither of these guys but that hardly mattered as we were sitting a merely 10 feet from them in the theater.

They were larger than life men and The Giant had stretch out one leg across the front row with his arm covering two seats next to him, literally blanketing an area usually occupied by several people. His head was so enormous and he had a huge mane of hair. The Giant was a loud viewer who screamed at the screen profanely even calling the Corporal a pussy in the climax when he is too afraid to aid his friend.A few seats over sat Diamond Dallas Page who seemed to glow in the darkness of the theater. I distinctly remember how bright of a man that dude was in all his tanning bed bleach blonde glory. He sat for the majority of the movie with his head in his hands and he cried openly during the movie while his friend screamed at the screen.

There were about 5 other people in the theater all sitting on the front row as if it were assigned to them. The precious wrestlers could not be disturbed during the movie in which one screamed at the screen and the other cried the whole time. The two could not have been more different but my brother and I were just so caught up in the moment.

I have always wished I could go back to that moment, knowing out ultimate goal was fruitless, and have yelled at The Giant. When he was screaming obscenities at the screen. How great it would have been to be the little smartass behind him and yell something like “hey! we’re trying to watch a movie here!” or something like that. What I would give to know how that scenario would have played out.

With about 5 minutes left in the film they got up and quickly left as if to avoid being rushed by the five people at the front of the theater. I followed them out hoping to get an autograph. I remember following Diamond Dallas Page to the front and standing a mere two feet from him as he talked to the manager. The Giant wasn’t looming about anywhere but I’ll never forget how DDP did not even acknowledge me. Even when he was done talking he turned away without so much as a glance in my direction. My brother managed to get a low five from The Giant as he exited the theater, but I got nothing but unacknowledgement.

I did not get an autograph that night but the memory of a lifetime none the less. As I said before I wasn’t really a fan of either of these guys so them being rude just strengthened my resolve. Also, the were both wearing fanny packs, so lame.

As to this movie itself what is there for me to say other than it is great? It begins with one of the most emotionally captivating and exciting battle scene of all time. It finishes with a nearly equal battle where the stakes are so much higher. I may connect this movie with a silly memory but there is so much more to it than that.

Truthfully, after recounting such a long remembered story, I have no interest in delving into this movie review wise. My apologies but the best you will get from me right now is that this movie was great. It’s a fantastic WWII pic and it would be worth your time to see it. This movie has one of the best battle scenes you will ever see and after that it only gets better.

NEXT MOVIE: Saw (2004)

 

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Cloud Atlas

Year: 2012
Directed By: Tom Tykwer, and Andy and “Lana” Wachowski
Written By: David Mitchell (Novel) Tom Tykwer, Andy and “Lana” Wachowski

RYAN’S REVIEW

First Attempt (5/2/13)

My brother, who twisted my arm into watching this movie, described it as “ambitious.” After seeing it I could not think of a better way to describe it.  In fact I think this represents how movies will be made in the future.  One day we will look back at this film and it will be seen as a landmark accomplishment.  In the movie, “Moby Dick” is specifically referenced.  It is said that in its time the author died starving but at the present every serious literary student owned a copy of it.  I think this movie is the Moby Dick of films.  It was not a financial success and largely misunderstood by its audience.  One day however, we will look back at this film and marvel at it.  One day this film will stand out as ahead of its time and be proclaimed as a classic.  I had lost faith in the Wachowskis after the completion of their Matrix trilogy but this film has proved to me that I was wrong about them.  They are brilliant filmmakers with an ability I admire and I will never lose faith in again.

Reviewing this movie has been a long time coming because I wanted to understand the story completely before doing so.  There are six story lines within the movie and I have figured out how the first three and the final three piece together but not how those two halves connect.  I bought the book the movie was adapted from but have yet to read it.  I find this film so impressive I wanted to write my review before the book has an opportunity to destroy my impressions of it.  Under almost every circumstance in which I have read a book after seeing the film the book has destroyed my perception of the film.  The only exception being The Godfather, but even with that film the book is much better.  I hope the book offers some sort of clarity on how the story pieces together in its entirety and after reading it I will update this review with what I am able to find out.

This movie blew me away in a way that no other movie has blown me away before because it brought to light a realization that I find so profound.  This story in its entirety is simply the only thing that is left after the fall of mankind and after our time on Earth comes to an end.  The idea hit me so hard because under those circumstances what does anything any of us do really matter?  We have so much history documented throughout our existence but after the fall of society if nothing survives then nothing is remembered.  In the beginning of the film Tom Hanks, in the character of Zachry, is telling a story that doesn’t make much sense at first.  He is a much older version of Zachry in that scene and it isn’t until the end that we see where he is and who he is talking to.  He is on another planet, telling his grandchildren the only story he knows from Earth.  It is the story this film tells and this story has very little bearing on our actual existence.  It is simply the only story he knows from his homeland and the only story that has survived from the entire history of this planet.  That is a lot to swallow because it is such a real possibility for the future. I don’t know how everybody else sees it but I see the possibility of humanity crumbling in the eventual future as very real. If that happens what is it that lives on in memory? There is such a real possibility that nothing any of us have ever done makes any difference in the future of existence.  As the slave owning father tells his son-in-law in the end of the film, his notion to stand up to slavery will never amount to being “more than a single drop in a limitless ocean.” To which his son-in-law replies, “What is an ocean but a multitude of drops?” That brought the whole thing full circle for me and I had a moment of clarity that was as clear as any I have ever had.  That’s all we are, drops in a limitless ocean.  The significance of our personal lives are more important than anything else, but they only matter to us as individuals.  Our individual worlds of existence are separate from one another but ultimately part of something so large we can never wrap our heads around it.

Second Attempt (12/26/15)

I think this movie is so innovative in its use of actors. In fact I’ve said several times that I thought this was such an incredible opportunity for an actor to showcase their talents that it was very possible this was only a hint of what was to come in the future. In this film the actors portray not one but many roles that allow them to show a much wider range of skill. Not only do they play multiple roles but they play incredibly diverse characters in turn. They play a variety of different ages, classes, and in many cases even races of people. It is an interesting idea usually only reserved for silliness like we see in several Eddie Murphy movies. Here the effort is made not to be funny but to be serious and it is an exceptional opportunity to appreciate the actors on hand. The actors in this movie show a tremendous amount of talent and a diversity that garners our respect. I’m always discouraged by the reality that so many actors and actresses succeed based on looks over talent. When actors are required perform on this level such a thing will never happen. It’s no easy thing what the actors in this film accomplish and the strength in their talent is showcased perfectly.

This movie can be a difficult one to follow simply because it is so complex. There are six different storylines that are seemingly alien of one another taking place across a wide spectrum of time and location. It can be easy to get lost in the vastness of how everything pieces together but after giving this film several viewings and much consideration I think I can dumb down how it all fits together.

There are six storyline within this film:

1. The free thinking lawyer, the two faced doctor, and the stowaway slave on a journey across the world.

2. Robert Frobisher, Rufus Sixsmith, and the creation of Cloud Atlas with Vyvyan Arys.

3. Reporter Luisa Rey’s chance encounter with an aged Sixsmith and her battle with destiny and the truth.

4. Timothy Cavendish and his desperate and oddly comedic struggle that inspires Somni-451.

5. Somni-451 and her realization of existence. In custody she testifies about living a life that changed the world.

6. Zachry and the true-true. A haunted man in a world that has moved on and is at the end of its run.

These six storylines weave together to make a story that is as incredible as it is complex. I have put a lot of thought into them since seeing the movie for the first time. Once I started doodling a web like design in which I wrote out these storylines and started drawing lines to connect them all to one another. I was just passing the time but the bad thing was I left it sitting on my desk. A week or so later I had to clear out of the house for an overnight ladies only party Amber was hosting. While I was gone, hanging with my brother watching this movie incidentally, my wife and her friends found my doodle. While totally reasonable in truth, the Beautiful Mind-looking series of words and lines I had drawn out about this movie made me look like a totally insane person. My wife and her friends had quite a time speculating on both what it was and exactly what was going on in my head. It’s been a year or more since that happened and some of them still bring it up to me when I see them today. Now, I will attempt to explain how these stories fit together without the aide of a spiderweb looking doodle that may or may not make me appear to be insane. Keep in mind this is a rough effort and I am undoubtedly missing plenty…

1. The free thinking lawyer Adam Ewing is on a mission at the behest of his slave owning father-in-law Haskell Moore. He suffers from a rare illness in which he enlists the help of the sketchy teeth harvesting doctor, Dr. Henry Goose, he first meets on the beach. Adam does his business and begins to make his journey back home with his new doctor acquaintance of secret sinister motives. Along the way he happens upon a stow away slave that he befriends and bounds his life to. His story is one of the finest in the movie and quite interesting. It fits into the grand scheme of things by way of the journal Adam keeps. Robert Frobisher later finds the unfinished journal in the home of Vyvyan Arys and mentions reading it in his letters to Sixsmith. Letters which in turn are read on by Luisa Rey a lifetime later.

2. Robert Frobisher is the talented but delinquent musician who captures the heart of the promising young student Rufus Sixsmith. When we meet the young couple Frobisher is rushing out the window while men of authority aggressively knock on the door of Sixsmith’s apartment demanding entrance. It seems their homosexual relationship is frowned upon and a letter is being drafted to Sixsmith’s father. Frobisher runs off to work on his masterpiece with the once great composer Vyvyan Ayers. Sixsmith and Frobisher correspond regularly writing letters to one another that are saved by Sixsmith and later fall into the hands of the young reporter Luisa Rey. While staying with Arys, Frobisher creates the catalyst for the entire film. A sextet called Cloud Atlas that will go largely unknown in modern times but live on with significance in the future.

3. Luisa Rey is a reporter who has a chance encounter with an aged and considerably older Rufus Sixsmith in a stalled elevator. While they are stuck in the elevator Sixsmith realizes Rey is exactly who he has been looking for as an outlet for a dark secret he is in possession of. Sixsmith’s efforts to unveil the secret he holds gets him killed by the powers that be. Rey, who is simply minutes too late, enters into a dangerous search for the truth that Sixsmith died for. She comes across the letters Sixsmith has always kept between himself and the late Robert Frobisher. Reading through them she learns about the Cloud Atlas and in passing learns about Adam Ewing’s journey across the Pacific. The truth she is trying to uncover about the shady dealings of a nuclear power plant is obviously what leads to the world of Somni-451 and the downfall of society that leads to the civilization of Zachary and the need for humanity to find new dwellings off planet.

4. The story of Timothy Cavendish is one of my favorite in the film. It is an unusual story packed full of humor and curious circumstances. The unsuccessful but savvy publisher has sat down to write his life story. Which largely involve his personal differences with his brother that lead to him being imprisoned in a retirement community. He hilariously assumes he is signing himself into a hotel while drunk and is in fact signing over his rights as a person to the facility. His efforts to free himself and the escape that follows is nothing short of hilarious. His story is eventually made into a movie and secretly watching a small clip of it inspires and changes the life of Somni-451 forever.

5. Somni-451 is a slave of the future. A genetically engineered servant that lives for no other purpose than to serve the consumer. Her path starts by chance when she catches the closest thing she has to a friend breaking the rules and living a little. One of her fellow servant slaves, Yoona-939, has a curious nature that influences and changes Somni’s existence forever. She shows Somni a clip of the Timothy Cavendish movie and together they share the secret until Yoona’s boldness gets her killed. Somni is rescued by resistance fighter Hae-Joo Chang who uses her as a focal point for the resistance. He shows her the truth of her existence and it is a truth that she cannot live with. As a genetically engineered slave she is part of a recycling process that simply kills and feeds the servants to one another in a cycle that is inhumane for beings capable of thought. As the servant slaves are led to “Exaltation” i.e. extermination/recycling they use their voices to harmonize the Cloud Atlas sextet. I have no idea why the Cloud Sextet is involved but it is some connecting factor I have failed to figure out. Once Somni is captured and interviewed she is executed by the government, but she “Obi-Wan Kenobis” death and becomes more powerful than anyone could have ever imagined. She become a martyr and rises to the status of a God in the future after the fall.

6. Now to Zachry and the true true. Although I can’t remember it specifically right now I found the time period given to be a very fascinating aspect of his story. Zachry’s society exist in a time that as listed as a certain number of seasons since “The Fall” or something like that. While I can’t remember off the top of my head what it said, it is merely the suggestion that time as we understand it no longer exists in this future. There are two types of civilization in this future. One where Zachry and other dwellers live in a village that would form a peaceful society were it not for the harrying cannibals that come calling now and again. The second sort of civilization lives with all the left over technology from a strong hold where society as we understand it has survived to a certain degree. Zachry’s people live a rudimentary life and marvel at the occasional visitors from the advanced culture of the past. The advanced civilization is represented by Meronym who seeks the help of Zachry in searching for a lost beacon of salvation. The world is dying and locating this beacon is the last chances to find a habitable planet and preserve what is left of the human race. In Zachry’s society they worship Somni-451 as a God and follow her teachings in their every day life. Meronym knows the truth of Somni-451, that she was simply a slave that was martyred, but Zachry is really reluctant to believe when she tries to explain it to him. As far as Zachry is concerned the true true lies in the teachings of the great Somni.

Now excuse me if any of this is not entirely correct. I’ve written this without a full viewing under my belt. This review has become something on the shelf that I started long ago and waited to finish up. Last night my brother and I found ourselves watching this movie yet again at the end of a heavy drinking session and I must admit I only made it through about half of this beautiful but enormously long film. The moon was on the far side of the sky when I, deep in my cups, decided to jump back into this review. One of the reasons this review has taken so long is simply because I refuse to do any actual research on it and have insisted on figuring it all out on my own with no additional input. So, aside from cross checking the names of specific characters on IMDB, I have pulled all this from memory and there are holes in it because I lacked a full viewing before jumping in. Bottom line, don’t hassle me over little things because I’m admitting this synopsis is full of tiny errors but the big picture is all on the table. Connecting the dots and outlining the big picture to this magnificent movie is my main goal with this review.

The movie begins with Zachry, ancient and scarred, telling a story dramatically to an unseen audience. The movie closes with that same scene, and it’s revealed that the story is being told to a large gathering of children. The product of Zachry and Meronym’s eventual union and a suggestion of success with the relocation of the human race. Zachry has overcome all of his demons to survive the end of Earth and serve as a future version of Noah for the human race. As he raises his growing family he regales them with the story of the Earth as he knows it. Making this story of Cloud Atlas and all that created it seemingly the only history that survives the doom. Certainly Meronym’s people might have more records of the past but the movie gives the impression to me that this was what was left and this is what survived. This is the story the future of mankind grows up with on this new planet it inhabits.

Such an idea struck me as so reasonable and so profound. What do the lives of any of us ever matter when such a thing is not only possible but certainly probable? To put it in the words of Haskell Moore we amount to little more than a drop of water against an endless ocean of possibility. The response to that line in the movie is equally profound because why we all may only amount to a drop we are the individual drops that create the ocean. We are all part of the greater story of life regardless where we stand in it. It’s an idea that has bound me to this movie that I would have loved regardless because it is interesting, funny, exciting, and profound all on it’s own. It’s such a deep movie, both provocative and inspiring in the idea it can prompt in our imaginations.

A movie such as this is on a platform all by itself. Revered by some but given no consideration at all by most. It’s a movie that makes you think and while I have known so many exceptions I find that the averaged audience is opposed to thinking. Too many simply want to be dazzled and mesmerized by the images on screen and never gain anything more out of the experience of watching. Some movies are simply made to hypnotize us for a short time with excitement and nothing more. There are still movies like this one though and they are not for everybody. I find this to be such a compelling movie but it has few precious other fans out there. I have gotten swept up in finishing up this review today but find it disappointing I haven’t had the time to do it the right way. With a full viewing and more specific information this review could have been much more but I will settle for this. It’s grown to a length that I would be shocked to find out there is even a single person that makes it this far. Like the movie this has turned into a creation of enormous length, such is necessary and not even enough with a film like this.

Final Thoughts (5/15/16)

I don’t know what stopped me from publishing this back in December. Maybe I was a little intimidated by this film. I love this movie but it is so unlike any other and so deep. It has provoked plenty of criticism in popular culture yet here I am claiming it is great. Not only am I claiming this to be a great movie but more than great, something for the future to build on. I am not the type of person that conceives my personal feelings from what others are thinking or even what everybody may think. If everybody else says yes but I think the answer is no I am digging in.

I’m digging in on this movie and saying the haters out there just didn’t get it. I get it, and I get a lot out of it. At the end of the day it doesn’t matter to me what anybody else thinks because in this little droplet of the ocean it’s all gravy. I think this movie is worth your time to see. I think this movie is worth plenty of your time in fact. I think with considerable attention this movie has the opportunity to teach you something, to inspire, to open the third eye and make you see. It is truly a rare film that can do such a thing and films like this should be treasured.

This is the Moby Dick of films, and I hope you give it a chance. There is so much more that should be said about this film but I have said enough for now. It’s time to finally drop this post.

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)

 

Orange County

Year: 2002
Directed By: Jake Kasdan
Written By: Mike White

RYAN’S REVIEW

Here is another movie that simply doesn’t belong.  I fell victim to the easy deals offered by Amazon Prime and ordered it at a really cheap price.  I remembered that I didn’t like it when it came out but thought it was worth a second chance.  I remembered thinking this movie meant something, that it had to be important because of all the people involved but despite myself I just didn’t like it.

This movie gave me every reason to think that young Colin Hanks was on the way to following in his father’s footsteps and on the way to being the next big actor.  Tom Hanks had yet to start slowing down in his career and his son was a spitting image of him in this movie full of famous comedians.  This movie wasn’t much of a hit but I thought it represented more to come from Colin Hanks.  After 12 years though I feel safe in saying that was a completely false assumption. Hanks has been part of some great things over the years, most recently the stellar first season of Fargo on FX, but he has never risen anywhere close to his father’s level.

This movie co-starred Jack Black who was largely up and coming at the time and it sported cameos from many big players.  Making brief appearances in this movie were the likes of Chevy Chase, Harold Ramis, John Lithgow, Ben Stiller, Kevin Kline, Lily Tomlin, and Leslie Mann.  I thought all those names meant this was significant.  I thought it meant that this movie was better than it actually was but I was wrong.  Having watched it again for the blog I just can’t help feeling the exact same way I felt when I watched it at 18.

This movie has a laugh here and there but it’s not a good movie.  I won’t go as far as to say it’s not worth your time to see but you could undoubtedly find something better to do with your time when faced with options.

NEXT MOVIE: The Other Sister (1999)

Matchstick Men

Year: 2003
Directed By: Ridley Scott
Written By: Eric Garcia (book), Nicholas and Ted Griffin (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Recently I saw an episode of Community that pondered the question “Nicolas Cage: good or bad?” I thought the whole thing was hilarious because when reviewing Cage movies in the past I have talked about how great he can be in some films and how hopelessly awful he can be in others.  On the show the question proved to be too much for even Abed Nadir to handle.  Scary stuff in truth because if Abed couldn’t handle it then not even Cage himself should broach the subject.  Nevertheless it is a very compelling question about an actor who has made over 70 films in the last thirty years.  It is interesting indeed to see an actor achieve the highest honor in film, the Academy Award for Best Actor in 1995 and follow it up the way he did. With his performance in Leaving Las Vegas Cage beat out Tom Hanks (who was going for his third straight win with his role in Apollo 13) and followed it up with The Rock. While I have always personally loved that film it is what it is, and I was twelve when it came out so naturally I thought it was awesome. The Rock was just a cheesy action movie but it wasn’t all that bad and it paired him with Sean Connery. More or less I think it was an acceptable idea for Cage to win such a prestigious award and then branch out into a new genre that was looking for new heroes as the regulars (Schwarzenegger and Stallone) were getting too old.  However, then in 1997 he starred in Con Air…….now what is there to say about that one? A cool cast all around but Cage was so specifically bad in that movie it made the whole thing a joke.  I actually referenced it specifically in our review of Lord of War saying that Cage could be great but you just never knew when he was going to do something like this:

Cage is certainly an interesting actor and maybe one day someone will succeed where Abed could not in answering that question posed by Community, but I’m not driving myself crazy trying to figure it out.  I ony bring it up because when it comes to this film I don’t really think there is much more to talk about beyond Cage.  It’s a good enough movie and everybody does their job well but as it goes with movies about con men the story is generally the same.  If you have seen one you have seen them all because there isn’t usually anything fresh brought to the table.  You might see some cool new cons but at the end of the film our characters have betrayed one another and the big shocker is not shocking at all.  Despite that I love this film because I think it is one of the films that will make you lean toward “Good” when trying to tackle that unsolvable Nicholas Cage question.  I think Sam Rockwell is exceptional in it and expected so much more from him after this.  It has sadly been quite disappointing to see his career never take off quite like I imagined it would ten years ago.  In this movie he is smooth and cunning as the protegé that has much more going on than he lets on.

I specifically thought Alison Lohman was incredible in this movie and like Rockwell I don’t know why it didn’t lead to greater things for her.  Rockwell however has still found marginal success here and there while Lohman has fallen off the map completely, not acting at all since 2009.  I read that she was twenty-two when she played this part and got the role by showing up to her audition dressed like a fourteen year old.  Apparently Ridley Scott was surprised when he found out how old she actually was and obviously she made an impression with her audition.  She had incredible chemistry with Cage and brought a lot to the film.  I also relate to it more now maybe because I have daughters myself. The father-daughter aspect of the film really gets to me and makes the movie more significant to me personally.  Regardless how it transitions into my fondness for Alison Lohman as an actress I still think it is unfortunate she isn’t out there making movies anymore.  I think this film proves she has plenty of talent and hopefully one day she will be able to showcase those skills again.

Ridley Scott is a director you can have faith in.  When he makes a movie you know it’s going to be made right and every once in a while one of them will absolutely blow you away.  No director is without his busts and Scott is not immune.  He has his fair share of films that weren’t successful but I think his successes far outweigh them.  I have always considered him the better of the two Scott brothers.  While I wasn’t specifically a fan of his younger brother I was still sad at the news of his passing a couple of years ago.  He was a good filmmaker and it was an unfortunate loss.  In this film Ridley Scott did a great job.  He specifically pushed for the ending to correlate with the book in which Cage’s character loses everything.  Producers didn’t want the “hero” of the film to end up like that and initially the script called for a different ending.  I think Scott made the right call and compensated the producers with a final scene in which we see Cage has moved on and into better things.  I like that ending better because his character didn’t deserve to win. As viewers we need to keep in mind that while we are enjoying watching this character he is still a seriously awful guy.  Con men are piranhas that prey on the weak and feeble.  There is nothing noble about them and every one of them out there deserves to lose everything and then be caught.

I don’t consider this film to be exceptional but it is entertaining and I enjoy it.  Little else matters right? I may not be willing to tackle the unsolvable question about Cage but I will be the first to point out where he is “Good” as opposed to “Bad.” At the end of the day I am just more interested in appreciating what he is good at and happy to ignore what he is bad at.  So maybe he takes an easy paycheck and makes a bad movie far too often.  The man is in the game to make money and he isn’t getting any younger.  Cage is great in this movie and I for one am happy just to appreciate his compelling and considerate performances.  This is a cool movie and I think it is more than worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is one of my favorite movies in our collection. I remember the first time that I saw this and thinking how great Nicholas Cage was in this movie. I found him to be incredibly believable in this role. I was drawn in and interested from the very beginning and I really like how the whole movie played out even in the end. This is one of those movies that not a lot of people have seen or even know about really, but it is a really interesting flick.

matchstick_men

There is absolutely nothing exciting to me about this poster. I feel like someone used a few photoshop filters and effects and viola! you have…this. It includes the main players of the movie, which is good, but I really have no allusion to what this movie is about. It doesn’t even give you a reason to want to see the movie. The typography of the title is killing me. I really dislike it. I just overall really just don’t like this poster at all. I don’t think it does this film justice. I think a better solution to this poster would be to see Nicholas Cage smoking in his superbly clean house maybe beside the dog which shows some cash and the gun hanging out. See, now I am interested. I think this design is lazy.

NEXT MOVIE: The Matrix (1999)

The Ladykillers

Year: 2004
Directed By: Joel and Ethan Coen
Written By: Joel and Ethan Coen (screenplay), William Rose (original film)

RYAN’S REVIEW

Ah, the Coen Brothers.  Those genius filmmakers that can’t help but do something special each and every time they get behind the camera.  They have a range with no limits.  They can make the dynamic award winning films that prove they are masters of their art and then on the flipside they can make silly films that make us laugh with witty dialogue and intelligent jokes. With this movie about an elaborate heist they brought together an incredible cast of interesting characters and wrote an outstanding script for them to perform.

The cast as much as anything makes this film awesome.  Tom Hanks was still at the height of his career in 2004 although his star was beginning to fall.  In this movie he plays one of the most bizarre characters he ever has and delivered an incredible performance. He looks like Colonel Sanders and speaks with a great southern draw that comes across quite eloquently   He has very unique dialogue that is loaded with whit.   He has a very deep vocabulary and Hanks delivers these lines flawlessly.  It is probably one of my all-time favorite roles from Hanks.  I think the next greatest role has to go to J.K. Simmons, hands down.  Simmons has an incredibly funny quality about him and brings humor to everything he is in.  The Coen brothers recognize this talent and have used him multiple times.  He was great as the CIA director in Burn After Reading. I have always loved him in the role of Pancake, the man who “brought his bitch to the Waffle Hut.” I have always liked Marlon Wayans too but usually dislike most of his movies.  I thought he was awesome in this movie as the “proverbial inside man.” The rest of this ensemble is just as great.  The little known Tzi Ma barely needs to say anything at all in the film and still manages to be a badass.  I love when he is “even now exercising every effort” to catch that sneaky cat Pickles when it escapes again.  I have always been a big fan of Ryan Hurst but he plays the weakest role in this movie. It’s not his fault though, that is just the way the character was written.

The ensemble might be made up of terrific characters but it doesn’t stop there in the film.  Irma P. Hall is terrific and on point for the whole film.  Is there anything more intimidating in the world than an elderly strong minded black woman set in her ways? I love the scene that opens the film with her complaining about rap music and I also love when she continually slaps Marlon Wayans for his profanity, “sometimes it’s the only way.” Stephen Root is also on hand in this film and as I have said before, the man is simply incredible.  Root can literally do anything and I think he brings something great to each and every role he plays.  Also, I don’t know who plays the part and don’t think it is important enough to look up but the man who plays the choir leader in the church is awesome.  The suit, the hair, and the expression on his face as he directs the music is just too funny.  The Coen’s have quite a knack for finding actors like him to fill into small roles and it always serves them well.

This is not the greatest of the Coen Brothers’ movies and I don’t even know if it is one of their better ones but like all Coen Brother movies it offers unforgettable and incredible scenes that make it worth wild.  I absolutely love when the two gangsters try to rob the donut shop and get nowhere.  The General just stands there expressionless and smoking as these guys threaten him and demand “that donut money.” With a movement so quick the camera barely catches it he has incapacitated the one standing in front of him and their reaction to the action is hilarious.  One of the greatest intros to a character I have ever seen hands down. I love the scene in the Waffle Hut all around from Tom Hanks demanding waffles from the waitress to J.K. Simmons bringing “his bitch to the Waffle Hut.” They always write terrific scripts and I will say again that I think nearly everything Hanks says in the film is solid gold. I loved his response to the notion that Pancake would have a pretty good lawsuit if he decided to sue them over his finger. He takes a serious tone and different demeanor as a character to explain that they are part of a criminal enterprise and not subject to typical rules and regulations.

While I do love this movie and think that it is awesome I can’t even say it qualifies as one of the Coen Brothers better movies.  I have always felt it started to come apart in the end somehow.  After Pancake is dispatched the movie starts to lose my interest a bit.  It still has its moments afterwards but it just seems to lose that captivating quality and closes kind of poorly in my opinion.  However everything that comes before makes the movie worth wild.

This movie offers some of the funniest scenes I have ever seen in a movie and I enjoy it each and every time I watch it.  I think anything the Coen Brothers do is worth the time of every movie fan out there and that includes this one.  Yes this is not their best film but this is still a good film and there is plenty to appreciate and enjoy about it.  If you get the opportunity to see it I strongly encourage anyone to give it a shot.  This movie is without doubt worth your time to see.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This is not my favorite Coen Brothers film. It’s funny and interesting, but some of the actors parts fall flat and I think they could have been a little better. The point of the story is awesome, and I support anything that these guys do. It is worth seeing.

ladykillers

This is a great example of how to include multiple characters into one poster. I love the scene and that you can’t see the lady’s face. The typography is really nice as well. I think the designer did a good job a offsetting it and making it look off in a really nice way. Sometimes, it can get out of control. Overall, really successful poster.

NEXT MOVIE: Land of the Lost (2009)

Forrest Gump

Year: 1994
Directed By: Robert Zemeckis
Written By: Winston Groom (novel) Eric Roth (screenplay)

RYAN’S REVIEW

I was ten years old when this movie came out and I remember so much about it.  I remember watching it in the theater.  I remember watching specials on TV about it, how they inserted Tom Hanks into footage of JFK specifically.  Overall I remember how big of a deal the movie was when it came out, and I have probably watched it one hundred times between then and now over the years. I think this is a great movie and I have always loved it but to be perfectly honest I’m just not feeling it right now.  For whatever reason this movie feels totally worn out to me at the moment and I don’t have much to say about it.  Frankly, we have been writing the hell out of some reviews lately and maybe I’m just a bit exhausted with it.

This was the greatest role Tom Hanks ever had.  He was already a celebrity but this took him to the next level of super stardom.  I have heard that despite what most people think of him that Tom Hanks is actually a really big asshole.  I heard once that he really hated this movie specifically, because ten years later he was still being sent random boxes of chocolate. I hope none of this is true though because I do really like Tom Hanks.  He hasn’t had a really big hit in nearly ten years though and I don’t expect much more from him in the future. Nevertheless Hanks made many memorable films and above all of them is this movie and this performance as the one and only Forrest Gump. I have always been a big fan of Gary Sinise as well but his star has faded also. He saw a spike in his workload after this movie but that passed in time. I think he ended up on one of the CSI shows, but I haven’t seen him in that or anything else for that matter, for a long time. I think Sally Field was great in this movie and I have never been a big fan of Robin Wright, but she is good in this movie too. This was probably the biggest role Mykelti Williamson has had in his career and he was great at it. I do specifically want to mention how much of a badass he was in season 3 of Justified, his character was great. Also worth noting is an early role by Haley Joel Osment as Forrest’s long lost son.  Osment faded away once he hit puberty but he was an incredibly gifted child actor.

This movie has a really great soundtrack and tells a fantastic story that everybody loves.  This movie is remembered fondly all around and for good reason. It won many awards and again, for good reason.  It is a great movie and you don’t need me to tell you that because you most likely already know that for yourself. This movie was based off a book that had a sequel and for years there was talk of that book being made into a movie, but I really doubt that will ever happen now.  I have not read the book but from what I understand it begins with Forrest explaining that you should never let anybody make a movie about you. So I assume the movie doesn’t follow the book accurately. Also in that book he fights in the Persian Gulf War and plays football for the New Orleans Saints.  I don’t know about this accurately because I haven’t read the book myself but it seems stupid to me.  Nobody that fought in both The Vietnam War and The Persian Gulf War could play football in the NFL for any team.  Forrest’s story in the movie and presumably first book goes on through the early mid 80s and he would be much too old to actually play professional football.

Look at this, for crying out loud.  Even when I intend to keep something short I go on forever but I really thought I had nothing to talk about when I started.  This is a great movie and if you haven’t seen it you need to make a point to do so.  That pretty much sums it up and I’m going to wrap this up before I go off on some other tangent.

UPDATE

Something has been bothering me about this review and I just now realized what it is.  There is a big question about this movie that I didn’t even bring up.  Did little Forrest have AIDS? I heard this question brought up on my favorite morning radio show Two Guys Named Chris on Rock 92.  The disease that Jenny dies from is obviously AIDS and she presumably had it when she showed up at Forrest’s house and conceived little Forrest.  Obviously Forrest didn’t have it but I thought the crew on Two Guys Named Chris brought up an interesting question.  In lieu of rewriting this entire post and including topics like this I’m simply going to put the question to anybody that reads this post.  Do you think Little Forrest had AIDS? Have you read the book and is this covered? I would be interested in your thoughts on the topic if you would leave us a comment about it.

AMBER’S REVIEW

This movie is on my list of all-time favorite movies. I was 9 or 10 when this movie came out. My mom usually let my brother and me watch about anything we wanted to watch, which was different from Dad’s house where we didn’t usually get to watch movies. My brother and I watched it with Mom for the first time and for some reason I loved the movie even then. Growing up with this movie has been really cool. There is a lot to the story line and for a 10 year old, it is sort of a brief history of the past few decades through the eyes of this guy, Forrest. He tells his story and you fall in love with the characters and the story that is his life.

Watching this movie as a 10 year old, I had no clue about some of the things that were happening. The more I watched it as I grew up, the more I started to understand. Some of the historical scenes didn’t resonate with me until later while I was in middle and high school and started to learn our country’s history. The scene with Forrest and Jenny in her dorm room is another example of how young I was. I didn’t have a clue what had happened when he said “I think I ruined your roommate’s bathrobe.” After watching it later in life, I understood a whole new part of the movie. It’s fun when movies from your past do that.

This movie is so quotable that I couldn’t resist ending it with my favorite Forrest Gump quotes.

“Dear God, make me a bird. So I could fly far. Far far away from here.” -Jenny

“Goddamn it, Gump! You’re a goddamn genius! This is the most outstanding answer I have ever heard. You must have a goddamn I.Q. of 160. You are goddamn gifted, Private Gump. Listen up, people…” -Drill Sergeant

“…Jenny, I don’t know if Momma was right or if, if it’s Lieutenant Dan. I don’t know if we each have a destiny, or if we’re all just floating around accidental-like on a breeze, but I, I think maybe it’s both. Maybe both is happening at the same time. I miss you, Jenny. If there’s anything you need, I won’t be far away.” -Forrest

Lieutenant Daniel Taylor: “Have you found Jesus yet, Gump?”
Forrest Gump: “I didn’t know I was supposed to be looking for him, sir.”

“Anyway, like I was sayin’, shrimp is the fruit of the sea. You can barbecue it, boil it, broil it, bake it, saute it. Dey’s uh, shrimp-kabobs, shrimp creole, shrimp gumbo. Pan fried, deep fried, stir-fried. There’s pineapple shrimp, lemon shrimp, coconut shrimp, pepper shrimp, shrimp soup, shrimp stew, shrimp salad, shrimp and potatoes, shrimp burger, shrimp sandwich. That- that’s about it.” -Bubba

NEXT MOVIE: Friday (1995)