Showing posts with label John Goodman. Show all posts
Showing posts with label John Goodman. Show all posts

Thursday, 6 February 2014

Inside Llewyn Davis

As with any new Coen brothers film, I eagerly anticipated the release of Inside Llewyn Davis and the good things I’d heard from America before its UK release only added to my excitement. The fact that it’s taken close to a week to write something about the film though, might tell you something about my reaction to the movie. Unfortunately I left the cinema feeling disappointed. I’d go so far as to say that I didn’t really like or even enjoy the film and the last week or so has found me struggling to find a spin on it so that I could reward it with a favourable review. Alas I’m out of time so here’s what I think.

To put it bluntly, the film did little for me. I wasn’t entertained and was rarely amused. I didn’t get much from the story and disliked the central character. It left me feeling cold and uninterested and I never got on board with Llewyn, willing him on to succeed. Instead I just thought he was a bit of a dick. His misfortunes were often his own and his undoubted talent was clouded by his personality. Although the Coens’ attempt to present other characters even less favourably, I still wanted nothing to do with him and was only happy when he was singing.

Saturday, 13 July 2013

Monsters University

Seeing Monsters University puts me in the strange situation of seeing a sequel (or prequel in this case) before the original movie. Like a lot of people I’m a huge Pixar fan but 2001’s Monsters. Inc is one of two Pixar features which I haven’t got around to seeing yet. The central characters Mike and Sully are so well known though that I didn’t think my ignorance of the first movie would hamper my enjoyment of this one. Thankfully it didn’t. Pixar managed to hamper it all by themselves.

Monsters University takes us back to our central character’s college days where they first meet on the campus of the University of the movie’s title. The ambitious and book smart Mike (Billy Crystal) initially doesn’t get along with the confident and naturally scary Sully (John Goodman) and their falling out leads to their expulsion from Scare 101. The pair discovers that their only way back onto the course is to enter and win the University’s Scare Games. To do this they must join a fraternity but the only one that will accept them is a group of no-hopers. Will they be able to shape themselves and their team into first class scarers or will their dream of turning professional be lost?

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Red State

Red State, more thriller than horror, is a film inspired by those nonsense sprouting, humanity hating people of the Westboro Baptist Church as well the as current terrorism policy. Three teenage boys peruse the internet looking for local women to have sex with but discover that their chosen woman isn’t all that she said she was online. The boys find themselves locked inside a church with hate preacher Abin Cooper (Michael Parks) talking about the end of days. He puts humanity’s demise down to homosexuality and has the bought the boys to his church to help free the world of sexual deviancy. Unfortunately for Cooper, a routine police patrol drives past his compound and discovers a car wanted in connection with a road traffic accident. When the police officer hears shots from inside the church he calls for backup and soon an ATF team lead by Joseph Keenan (John Goodman) is on the scene.

I’m generally in favour of any movie which highlights the evil of organised religion. Whether through subtle satire or full blown exploratory investigation, if religion is getting a kicking then I’m on board. What Red State does though is make both sides the bad guys. The despicable, murdering in the name of Jesus loons obviously get a hard time from the film makers but so do the Government Agents bought in to take them down.

Thursday, 23 May 2013

The Hangover Part III

I seem to be different to everyone else. Not just different like we’re all different but different, different. I don’t think that Peter Kay saying the words ‘garlic’ and ‘bread’ in close proximity is remotely funny yet he has sold more than ten million DVDs in the UK. The phrase ‘Am I bovered’ no matter how cockney’ed up also fails to draw a smile. When The Hangover was released in 2009 I didn’t see it in the cinema but months later I gave into the pressure of everyone telling me it was the best comedy since sliced film and I watched it at home with my girlfriend. I thought it was dreadful. About a year later we ventured to the cinema to see Part II with a large audience. This time it was even worse. I thought it was offensive and not at all funny but was surrounded on all sides by people having the time of their lives. It was with great trepidation then, and immediate regret, that I took a few hours on my day off to see The Hangover Part III and d’you know what? I think it’s the best of the series.

I use the phrase ‘best’ in the same way as one might describe Albert Speer as the best Nazi. Sure he was a Nazi but didn’t he design some lovely buildings? What I’m getting at is that The Hangover Part III is the best of a bad bunch. Once again I might find myself in the minority here and I’m sure the cinemas will be packed for weeks with guffawing humans, rocking back and forth in their seats and looking at each other with mutual recognition that they are part of a group. The third (and hopefully final) instalment of The Hangover series is neither as offensive nor as formulaic as the second film and about as funny as the first. I laughed once and smiled about four or five times.

Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Prime Oscar bait Flight is Director Robert Zemeckis’ return to live action following more than a decade producing animated and computer generated movies. The movie tells the story of a crashed aircraft and the following weeks for its functioning alcoholic pilot (Whip Whitaker) Denzel Washington. Whip is a well trained and long serving pilot who has got by all throughout his adult life despite being drunk and stoned everyday. On the morning of the fated flight he is seen drinking beer and vodka and snorting cocaine and even drinks vodka during the fifty minute flight. Despite some miraculous instinct and skill which manages to save many lives Whip is due in front of a tribunal with a failed toxicology report hanging over his head.

It’s fair to say that Flight is one of the weaker of the Oscar season films and the intense crash and admirable Washington performance are all that separate it from mediocrity. The movie is full of religious babble, poorly chosen music and a code era ending which make the excellent opening instantly forgettable and sets up an hour and a half which passes the time but does little to induce much of an emotional response past the odd laugh and one tense moment.

Sunday, 11 November 2012


Shedding light on the incredible true events of the 1979 Iran Hostage Crisis, Director Ben Affleck stars as CIA evacuation specialist Tony Mendez. After the US Embassy in Tehran is stormed by Militants in 1979 and more than fifty staff are taken hostage, six manage to escape into the custody of the Canadian Ambassador where they remain hidden for weeks while the State Department and CIA try to figure out a way of extracting them from the most watched and most anti-American city in the world. Mendez has the idea of creating a fake movie and giving himself and the six hidden embassy staff fake identities as Producers, Scriptwriters and the like, on a location scouting assignment before simply flying out of the country. The idea is met with scepticism by the CIA and State Department as well as the hidden six but with no other viable options, Mendez is given the green light.

Despite co-writing Good Will Hunting with Matt Damon in the mid 90s, Ben Affleck soon became known for his celebrity relationships and mediocre performances in overblown and critically disappointing films such as Pearl Harbor and Armageddon. It came as a surprise to many then that Affleck’s Directorial debut Gone Baby Gone was as good as it was and he then followed this up with another critical success The Town in 2010. With Argo, Affleck is now three for three and seems to be going from strength to strength as a Director.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

The Big Lebowski

After a case of mistaken identity Jeff ‘The Dude’ Lebowski (Jeff Bridges), an unemployed Los Angeles based slacker seeks out his millionaire namesake in order to complain about the mistreatment he received by mistake. The meeting is followed the next day by a call from the millionaire saying that his young, trophy wife has been kidnapped and he wants The Dude to be the bagman; delivering the money to the kidnappers. This sets off a chain of events which leaves The Dude bewildered and confused and all on the eve of his bowling league semi-finals.

The Big Lebowski is one of the hundreds of films which I’ve wanted to see for a long time and I’m happy I’ve finally sat down to watch it. I’m a fan of the Coen brothers’ work having really enjoyed seven of the eight of their films I’ve seen previously. This is most definitely joining those other seven and avoids being plonked in the bargain bin next to The Ladykillers. It’s packed full of great Coen dialogue and fantastical situations, all bought together with a great cast who are all on sparkling form.

Saturday, 15 September 2012


Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee – The Road) is an eleven year old boy living in a small Massachusetts town famous for hanging a Witch three hundred years ago. Norman is unpopular at home and ridiculed at school because he believes that he can talk to ghosts. After being approached by a creepy old man about averting the ‘curse of the Witch’, Norman accidentally raises a horde of zombies from their graves before enlisting their help along with that of his sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick), friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Jock Mitch (Casey Affleck) and school bully Alvin (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)in sending the Witch back to her grave.

The first of three hotly anticipated horror/comedy/stop motion kids films we’ll see in the coming weeks and coming three years after Laika’s success with Coraline, ParaNorman begins with a flourish which sets it up to be an interesting and funny family film. Unfortunately it runs out of steam after about fifty minutes when the jokes dry up and the predictable plot takes over from what had been a fun, film which takes a surprisingly candid look at death.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

The Artist

Up until today I have only even see three films more than once at the cinema; Titanic (don’t judge me, it was very difficult for an eleven year old to see boobs in a pre internet age), Slumdog millionaire and Senna. The Artist is the forth.

The Artist invites us back to a time where cinema was something that one wore their best suit for and applauded at the mere mention of a stars name; a world before jumbo popcorn and cheesy nachos where cinema and its projection were an art form. The film draws you into the world of George Valentin, a silent movie star at the height of his powers. We join Valentin, who is played superbly by Jean Dujardin, as he is back stage awaiting the response to his latest picture. It is a huge success and he enjoys the crowd’s adulation after the curtain has closed. Outside, while speaking to the press, Valentin has an accidental encounter with a beautiful young woman called Peppy Miller, played by Bérénice Bejo. The film charts the rise of Miller’s career as an actress in the talkies in contrast to the free-fall of Valentin as he is stuck in a world with talking movies which he doesn’t want any part of.

I absolutely adored it when I first saw it about a month ago and found it even more enjoyable the second time around. I was able to spot the nuances that help to make the film one of my all time favourites. I could hear subtle changes in the music when a look was given and even a ‘plink’ when one character blinked. I was able to appreciate the beautiful framing of every shot and the attention to detail in each scene. I could see how a chair was placed in just such a way that it split the frame in half, showing us two characters separate emotions that, though sat very close, were worlds apart.

The use of shadow in 1922s Nosferatu
Although I’m no expert on silent cinema, I believe I have seen more silent movies that most young people, count Charlie Chaplin as my favourite film maker and Keaton’s Electric House and Hawks’ Scarface amongst my favourite films. I felt that the film totally lived up to what was great about the best silent movies. The score, so integral in a film without dialogue was perfect. It captured the mood of each scene, let us into the minds of the characters and also updated with the films progression from 1927 to 1932. The use of mirrors and shadows was reminiscent of German expressionism and Film Noir and fitted perfectly with the tone of the movie.  The script was also brilliant. While it wasn’t spoken, what you could lip read; tell in body language and read on title cards was delightful and wonderfully written. I also noticed on my second viewing the subtle uses of words like ‘talk’ and ‘silent’ in important scenes, often having nothing to do with the lead characters refusal to speak on film.

The acting of both leads was sublime. It is no wonder that both have been nominated for Oscars. Dujardin looks every inch the silent movie star. He has the face, smile and demeanour down to a tee. He has the look of Douglas Fairbanks and the confidence and swagger of Maurice Chevalier. He is absolutely wonderful in the film and I expect him to be named Best Actor later this month. Bejo is just stunning. Her beauty and grace have not been matched on screen in many years and she looks as though she has walked straight into the film from 1929. I have a huge crush, though more on her feisty yet sweet and caring character than the actress herself.

The Artist has been nominated for Best Sound as the BAFTAS, along with 11 other nominations. It may seem odd for a silent movie to be nominated for sound but I believe it should win in this category. What little ‘sound’ there is is perfectly timed and placed. A scene featuring a glass deserves the award just on its own.

It would have been easy to make a modern day silent movie by just filming in black and white and adding old swing style music to it but The Artist cuts no corners in its quest for authenticity. It is a delightful, masterpiece that will leave you tap dancing all the way home.


If you liked The Artist then try OSS 117: Cairo Nest of Spies from director Hazanavicius and starring Jean Dujardin and Berenice Bejo.