Showing posts with label Tommy Lee Jones. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tommy Lee Jones. Show all posts

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Natural Born Killers

I didn’t know anything about Natural Born Killers prior to watching it but saw that an angry looking Woody Harrelson was on the blu-ray cover and that was enough to sell it to me. During the frenzied pre credit sequence I thought to myself that it looked like the most Tarantino-esque film I’d ever seen. I didn’t realise at the time of course that the film was actually loosely based on a script written by Quentin Tarantino and that he received a ‘story by’ credit. The script though, was written by director Oliver Stone, Dale Veloz and Richard Rutowski and is set around a manic killing spree. Mickey Knox (Harrelson) and his wife Mallory (Juliette Lewis) travel around the South Western United States, randomly killing seemingly for the pleasure it brings. Both central characters suffered traumatic childhoods but enjoy the fame and notoriety that their actions bring.

The film is spliced together in a fairly linear structure but has the overarching look of a collage. A multitude of camera angles, effects and styles are used and the estimated 3,000 cuts necessary to piece everything together took around eleven months to edit. Camera angles and shooting styles will change from second to second in what feels like a psychedelic whirlwind. The effect is that Stone creates a movie that seems to surround you on all sides rather than emanate from the TV screen and it keeps you both off balance and highly entertained throughout.

Saturday, 26 January 2013


Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln takes a small chunk of Abraham Lincoln’s remarkable life and brings to the big screen a momentous moment in American history. Set in the early months of 1865 with the Civil War still raging after four years, US President Abraham Lincoln (Daniel Day-Lewis), fresh off the back of a second election win is trying to pass the 13th Amendment to the Constitution which will abolish slavery for good from the United States. The issue, which was one of the reasons America became divided in the first place is just as divisive in the House of Representatives where Lincoln and his Republican Party need a two-thirds majority for the Amendment to pass. Through rhetoric, barter, pleading and persistence, Lincoln and his staff try to sway the votes of twenty lame duck Democrats before the session comes to a close.

Lincoln is a fascinating film which treats its audience as intellectual equals and doesn’t shy away from long passages of legal and political spiel. Having studied Politics and University and with an interest in the American Civil War, the film was always going to grab my attention but even those who know little of the period will find some interest in the deeply woven script and fantastic performances.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

No Country for Old Men

A film that is difficult to place into just one particular genre, 2007s No Country for Old Men saw the Coen brothers win their first and perhaps long overdue Oscars for Best Picture and Best Director. In a year for which its main rival was the equally nihilistic and violent There Will Be Blood the Coen’s film won a total of four Oscars and three BAFTAS. Set in the West Texas desert in the early 1980s the film is based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy and tells the story of a man (Josh Brolin) who chances upon the aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong and finds $2 million just waiting to be taken. He is chased by the vicious and merciless hit man Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who is hired to get the money back. Both are in turn hunted down by local Sheriff Ed Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) who despite in being way over his head maintains a calm exterior in the face of the task in front of him. No Country for Old Men is the sort of film that I’d be happy to watch every five years or so but wouldn’t want to see it any more often than that. It is a supremely made movie which features some stunning performances and an interesting story but I found myself drifting more and more as it went on.

Monday, 28 May 2012

Men in Black 3

"Just 'cos you see a black man in a nice car, don't mean it's stolen. I mean this one is..."

Ten years after the disappointing Men in Black 2 and fifteen (really!) years since Men in Black, Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones are donning the black suits and Ray-bans once again. Agent J (Smith) and Agent K (Jones) learn that the alien murdering Boris the Animal (Jermaine Clement) has escaped his maximum security LunarMax prison cell on the Moon, 43 years after K arrested him in Florida. Boris gets hold of a time machine and goes back to 1969 where he murders K. J has trouble understanding what has happened and goes back to 1969 himself where he meets a younger K (Josh Brolin) and the two of them attempt to apprehend Boris before he kills K and sends an army to attack and destroy the Earth.

I’m a big fan of the first Men in Black film and will watch pretty much anything Will Smith is in so I was excited at the prospect of a third instalment of the franchise. Unfortunately I left disappointed. Quality wise this is much closer to Men in Black 2 than Men in Black. My two main problems were that it wasn’t funny enough and that it was really boring. Will Smith is a naturally funny man and has bags of charisma but here his jokes fall flat and he doesn’t seem cool enough. Jermaine Clement, who I travelled over 400 miles round trip to see perform as part of Flight of the Concords was also a little bit disappointing although his accent was very good he was neither funny or scary enough. I only laughed twice and these were both at jokes regarding the differing racial attitudes of the 60s and now. As for the story, yes there are alien bad guys and the threat of the Earth’s destruction and the time travelling stuff was good but I wasn’t gripped.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada

Tommy Lee Jones’ Directorial debut is a modern day Western set in Texas and Northern Mexico and is about the death of Mexican cowboy Melquiades Estrada (Julio Cedillo). Before his death he made his friend Pete (Tommy Lee Jones) promise to bury him in his small town of birth, Jimenez, across the border in Mexico. Pete kidnaps the boarder patrolman Mike Norton (Barry Pepper) who shot Estrada and the two of them set out in search of Jimenez.  

One of the films strengths is that it sometimes shows the same incident from two different character’s perspectives which help the audience to decide who they believe is in the right or wrong or build up a better understanding of proceedings. This however helps to add to one of the films downfalls which is the non-linear way the plot unfolds in the first act. I found myself confused for the first half an hour or so until I worked out who everyone was and what their place in the movie was. Once I’d figured out who everyone was, I then had trouble understanding what anyone was saying. The Spanish dialogue is subtitled but I could have done with subtitles for the mumbled Texan accents that were prevalent. At times I honestly had no idea what was being said.

The story is kind of interesting but I didn’t have enough love for Tommy Lee Jones or Julio Cedillo’s characters to really care either way and Barry Pepper’s Mike Norton is made out to be quite a nasty character so I certainly didn’t care what happened to him. His partial redemption towards the end wasn’t enough for me. I think that there was another film in there, based on the relationship between Barry Pepper and his wife January Jones. The acting on the whole was very good. Tommy Lee Jones as usual was great and Barry Pepper showed greater range than I’d witnessed from him before. Even January Jones was acceptable, the best I’ve seen from her too. Melissa Leo stood out but her role was very small.

Tommy Lee Jones gave me no reason to think that he couldn’t or shouldn’t direct again but there was no wow factor. He manages to get good performances however and the locations are pretty. The film in general is fine but I wasn’t very interested in the plot.