Day 354: The Color Of Money (1986)

imagesAfter watching the 1961 Billiards classic The Hustler for yesterday’s film, I couldn’t pass up on watching the sequel which took 25 years to make. I’m Certainly ok with it taking that long considering that The Color Of Money was directed by Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street). Paul Newman (The Hustler) is back as Fast Eddie Felson, but he has kept to his promise that he made in the first film where he doesn’t play pool. The game has certainly changed as the nine ball has become the preferred game. One day, he sees a kid named Vincent (Tom Cruise) that he sees a lot of potential in so he decides to take him on the road to train him in how to hustle in billiards, but this will inspire Eddie to return. The film also stars Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio (Robin Hood: Prince Of Thieves) as Carmen, Helen Shaver (The Land Before Time) as Janelle, John Turturro (Transformers) as Julian, Bill Cobbs (Oz the Great and Powerful) as Orvis, Forest Whitaker (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) as Amos, Bruce A. Young (Jurassic Park III) as Moselle, and the film featured real pool players like Grady Matthews, Keith McCready, and Steve Mizerak.

the-color-of-money-tom-paulThe thing that I loved about this film is that while it sort of takes a cue from the first film, it definitely carves it’s own path as it differentiates itself from the original. For one, there is a little more nudity in this film than there was in the original thanks to a scene with Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio. The real difference between this film and the other film is that Fast Eddie just didn’t know when to quit and he didn’t realize what he had in front of him until it was too late. In this film, he is trying to teach Vincent that you don’t always show your stuff right from the get go, but that will bite him in the you know what later. That is the difference between the two films as far as story is concerned and I like that about this film. The pool scenes were incredible as usual, but they sped up a lot of the action too for time purposes. Tom Cruise was great as this kid who thinks he’s all that, but is really insecure inside when it boils down to it and Mastrantonio is great as the girl who pulls the strings on him. I loved the ending of the film because they leave it open ended where you sort of figure out for yourself who may have won that match. This was an example of a film that may have taken years to do, but they did it right. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.

Day 24: Bringing Out The Dead (1999)

017_BRINGINGOUTTHEDEADQUADSoon enough you’ll figure out that I am a fan of Martin Scorsese (The Wolf Of Wall Street), but I honestly did not know that he directed today’s film. In 1999, Scorsese directed the film Bringing Out The Dead which starred Nicholas Cage (Raising Arizona) as paramedic Frank Pierce. Frank has been on the job for way too long to the point that he is burnt out and the ghosts of patients that he couldn’t save are starting to haunt him whether he is on the job or off. Over the course of three turbulent and mind exhausting nights, Frank will have to try and survive the nights without completely losing his mind in this drama/thriller. The film also stars John Goodman (Death Sentence) as Larry, Patricia Arquette (A Nightmare On Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors) as Mary Burke, Ving Rhames (Mission: Impossible) as Marcus, Tom Sizemore (Saving Private Ryan) as Tom Wolls, Marc Anthony (The Substitute) as Noel, Mary Beth Hurt (The Exorcism Of Emily Rose) as Nurse Constance, Nestor Serrano (The Day After Tomorrow) as Dr. Hazmat, Aida Turturro (The Sopranos) as Nurse Crupp, Cliff Curtis (Blow) as Cy Coates, and Sonja Sohn (The Wire) as Kanita.

bringing-out-dead-pic-1_758_426_81_s_c1This film is so intense in just about everything and it’s awesome. Nicholas Cage does a great job playing a guy who is just going through absolute hell and looks like he’s been going through absolute hell. This is one of those rare times that I really enjoyed his performance because he’s hit or miss with me. The film is very dark in nature so it has that look that Shutter Island had with it’s dark color tones with the bright reds, etc. I really enjoyed the scenes where every thing is all of a sudden sped up to make them look even more crazier than they are. The film also shows you how dark and dingy the city can be and it shows you sections you’ve never seen before as well. I love how Scorsese almost focuses on that as well like he’s making the city a vital character as well. I have to say that I truly enjoyed the side story between Patricia Arquette and Nicholas Cage because they are both struggling with inner demons while Cage is being haunted by the dead, she is dealing with a dark past of her own. It definitely added a cool dynamic to the film that kept the story rolling. Martin Scorsese is definitely one of my favorite directors and there are a lot of films that I still have not seen that will probably show up on this challenge. Check out the film for yourself, I am giving the movie an B for a final grade.

Day 18: The Last Temptation Of Christ (1988)

last temptFor today’s 365 Movies In 365 Days challenge film, I wanted to choose a film that the late, great David Bowie (Labyrinth) starred in that I had not seen yet to help celebrate his legacy. I stumbled upon the Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) directed 1988 film The Last Temptation Of Christ which stars Willem Dafoe (Platoon) as Jesus Christ in this fictional take on his life and the teachings of the bible. The film was based off of a book that was written by Nikos Kazantzakis that explores all the trials and tribulations of Jesus Christ as he journeys through life wondering what his purpose is, what exactly does God want from him, and his last temptation while on the cross. The film also stars Harvey Keitel (From Dusk Till Dawn) as Judas, Barbara Hershey (Falling Down) as Mary Magdalene, Steve Shill (Dexter) as Centurian, Verna Bloom (Animal House) as Mary, Roberts Blossom (Home Alone) as Aged Master, Barry Miller (Saturday Night Fever) as Jeroboam, Gary Basaraba (The Smurfs) as Andrew, Apostle, Irvin Kershner (The Empire Strikes Back) as Zebedee, Victor Argo (Taxi Driver) as Peter, Apostle, Paul Herman (American Hustle) as Phillip, David Bowie as Pontius Pilot, and Andre Gregory (Demolition Man) as John The Baptist.

last tempt 2This must have been one of the ballsiest films to come out in 1988 and it must have insulted Christians everywhere at the time. I an only imagine seeing images of Jesus not knowing what he is talking about and saying that if I just open my mouth God will speak for me. One sequence that must have pissed off Christians everywhere is the idea that a guardian angel comes down and saves him from the cross and he goes on to live a long life with a wife and children until the rude awakening comes. I am not the biggest Willem Dafoe fan in the world, but I give the man props for have the guts to do the film and for his performance. What the film does for people is that it dumbs down the bible so that everyone can get it. It shows you that he was human after all and he went through the same emotions that we did. They keep a lot of the historical information in the film, but they twist it around a little bit. One scene that I thought was powerful was during the last temptation when Jesus confronts a man preaching about him and his death even though he is alive. Jesus tells him to stop the lies, but the man (played by Harry Dean Stanton) tells him that he refuses to stop because his version of Jesus dying on the cross is a lot better and people will believe that story to give them hope than to know that he was still alive. When I saw that scene, I was shocked and could only think of the word wow. If you can look past that the film is almost three hours long, that they say it’s fiction right from the start, then you should be able to enjoy this great piece of art. I am giving the film an A- for a final grade because the cinematography is great, the sets were amazing, and the soundtrack was very good as well.