For those of you out there that do not know who Shane Black is, he has written some pretty amazing films like Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, Iron Man 3 (debatable), Lethal Weapon 2, and so much more. That is why I chose to watch his latest film The Nice Guys for today’s movie. It is the late 1970’s in Los Angeles, California and things are not very easy in the big city as they are dealing with issues of smog and a dead female porn star. To top it all off, two private eyes that obviously do no match well together in Holland March (Ryan Gosling) and Jackson Healey (Russell Crowe) are assigned to the case together. It is there that the duo run into a whole mess of a situation that they didn’t see coming which includes the DA and hitmen. The film also stars Angourie Rice (Walking With Dinosaurs) as Holly March, Matt Bomer (Magic Mike XXL) as John Boy, Margaret Qualley (The Leftovers) as Amelia, Keith David (Men At Work) as Older Guy, Beau Knapp (Southpaw) as Blueface, Murielle Telio (The DUFF) as Misty Mountains, Kim Basinger (L.A. Confidential) as Judith Kuttner, Jack Kilmer (The Stanford Prison Experiment) as Chet, Yaya DaCosta (Tron: Legacy) as Tally, and Lois Smith (Falling Down) as Mrs. Glenn.
There wasn’t much to this film that I didn’t like, it was very enjoyable to watch. Ryan Gosling’s stock is moving up in my book as just about every movie he is in I love his performance. He is probably my favorite character in this film because he is the perfect opposite of what Russell Crowe is. Russell Crowe’s character is the bad ass tough one while Ryan Gosling’s is afraid of his own shadow. It’s very funny and I think it’s a very good selling point for the film in general because their chemistry is undeniable. It’s like the perfect buddy movie for those that love them. I loved the aesthetics of the film because it looked and felt like the 70’s as you are watching all of the cool outfits and hairdos not to mention all of the pop culture references. Even all of the nuances were right on target from not being able to say the lords name in vain and so much more. The film definitely kicks off in style with a naked porn star dead on top of a car as she literally drove through someone’s house. So you an definitely imagine where it went from that point. I honestly thought that the film was very funny and definitely one worth seeing if you are a fan of either Crowe or Gosling. It’s available in Redbox and where ever else you watch movies so go and watch it. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
It’s Tuesday which can only mean one thing and that is that it is time for Based on a Truesday Story. Based on a Truesday Story is a segment I did on my other blog where we watch films that are based on a true story and for today we are doing American Gangster. Frank Lucas (Denzel Washington) is an African American drug lord from Harlem, New York who decides that the best way to take over the competition is to fly directly to the source in Vietnam. He quickly becomes the drug kingpin of New York, but that attracts the wrong kind of attention. Richie Roberts (Russell Crowe) is an honest cop who gets put on the case to track down Frank Lucas and shut him down completely and anyone else corrupt as well. The film also stars Chiwetelu Ejiofor (12 Years A Slave) as Huey Lucas, Josh Brolin (The Goonies) as Trupo, Lymari Nadal (The Blackout) as Eva, Ted Levine (The Silence Of The Lambs) as Lou Toback, Roger Guenveur Smith (He Got Game) as Nate, John Hawkes (Lincoln) as Freddie, RZA (The Man With The Iron Fists) as Moses Jones, Carla Gugino (Watchmen) as Laurie, Idris Elba (Thor) as Tango, Common (Selma) as Turner Lucas, TI (Ant-Man) as Stevie Lucas, Armand Assante (Judge Dredd) as Dominic Cattano, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Alien).
What happens when you put Denzel Washington in a leading role of a film? Well, I hope that you are preparing yourself for one hell of a performance because that is exactly what you are getting with this film. The thing I loved about this film is that you sort of get two stories in one where you have one guy who wants to make his teacher and his family proud by being at the top of his game while you have another who feels that honesty is the best policy and it will lead him over the dirty cops. I have to be honest in saying that if I found a million dollars as a cop, I may skim a few off the top of it. It’s kind of the story of the two roads with the one less traveled and you can guess who took which road in this film. There are so many actors that appeared in this film that I couldn’t fit above that deserved honorable mention like Cuba Gooding Jr., Ruby Dee, Jon Polito, John Ortiz, and many more who do a terrific job in the film. Now we all know that Hollywood takes some civil liberties with their films, but this one seems to have a lot according to an article on historyvshollywood.com. One story is that Frank says in the film that he drove for Bumpy for 15 years. Reports indictate that Bumpy was released from prison in 1963 and he died in 1968 leaving only a five year window. Check out more of the facts vs fiction in that article that I provided. The film is excellent with a very good story, amazing cinematography, and it’s the kind of gangster movies we love here in the states. So, what more could you possibly ask for? I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.
Without looking at a synopsis for a film, I honestly thought when I saw the title Mystery, Alaska that we were going to get a film like Fargo for example. I thought maybe it would be a town with a dark secret, but that is definitely not the case. In Mystery, Alaska, they pride themselves on their ability to play hockey in a town that has sub zero temps almost all year round. One day a former townee (Hank Azaria) returns from New York with news that NHL hockey powers the New York Rangers want to challenge the team to a traditional pond hockey game. The town accepts the challenge with some doubters, but they’ll soon have to realize that there are a lot more internal problems they’ll need to solve before they take on the hockey power. The film stars Russell Crowe (Robin Hood) as John Biebe, Burt Reynolds (Smokey And The Bandit) as Judge Burns, Mary McCormack (Private Parts) as Donna Biebe, Colm Meaney (Con Air) as Mayor Pitcher, Lolita Davidovich (Gods And Monsters) as Mary Jane Pitcher, Maury Chaykin (Entrapment) as Bailey Pruitt, Ron Eldard (Sleepers) as Skank Marden, Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as Tree, Scott Grimes (Robin Hood) as Birdie Burns, Rachel Wilson (The Glass House) as Marla Burns, Adam Beach (Flags Of Our Fathers) as Galin Winetka, and the film was directed by Jay Roach (Trumbo).
This was actually a very good film that has the feel of The Mighty Ducks and the look of every other sports film released in that time frame. It’s the true underdog story of a small Alaskan hockey team that does the impossible by playing a pro team. The thing that is unique about this film is the challenges a lot of the actors face in the film like infidelity, corporate takeover, as well as other social issues. Russell Crowe was great, Burt Reynolds was very good, and just about everybody in the film did a great job. I loved the cinematography in the film especially during the big hockey game. These kinds of ideas make you wonder if a game like this would be possible, but I honestly doubt it. The players union would probably never approve of it in the first place. The idea of a spot uniting a town is not so far fetched as sports is a common thread for people and various towns all over America. One of my favorite things about the film is the cameo from Mike Myers (Shrek) who plays a character that is a parody of hockey commentating legend Don Cherry. That was definitely a highlight for me to see him in this film. I know Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a 38% rating, but I really enjoyed the film because it was more than just a hockey film. That is why I have decided to give the film an B+ for a final grade.
I am about to go on a Oscar Isaac binge and for good reason I might add. He is an incredible actor who is slowly becoming one of my favs after roles as Poe Dameron in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Nathan in Ex Machina, Blue in Sucker Punch, and he is about to be Apocalypse in X-Men: Apocalypse. In today’s film, Robin Hood, he plays King John in this origin story about Robin Longstride (Russell Crowe). King Richard (Danny Huston) was killed in battle and it’s up to his most trusted friend to return the crown. The only problem is that he is killed in an ambush and Robin agrees to bring his sword back to his father. Once Robin returns the sword to Sir Walter Loxley (Max Von Sydow), he is asked to pretend to be his son while England boils away in turmoil due to a traitor to the crown. The film also stars stars Mark Strong (Kingsman: The Secret Service) as Godfrey, Cate Blanchett (The Monuments Men) as Marion Loxley, William Hurt (The Incredible Hulk) as William Marshal, Mark Addy (The Full Monty) as Friar Tuck, Matthew Macfadyen (Frost/Nixon) as Sheriff Of Nottingham, Kevin Durand (X-Men Origins: Wolverine) as Little John, Scott Grimes (American Dad!) as Will Scarlet, Alan Doyle (State Of Play) as Allan A’Dayle, and the film was directed by Ridley Scott (Gladiator).
You should know going into a film like this that you can guarantee that it’s going to be well made when it’s Ridley Scott and Russell Crowe. A team that looked to repeat the success of Gladiator some ten years or so before it. As I said above, this is the origin story so it’s pre-steal from the rich and give to the poor Robin Hood. It explains how he became who he would eventually become in the story we loved as children. One of my favorite things about period pieces like this (because it is after all) are the sets, costumes, and the cinematography. You know that the costumes are going be done very well leading you to believe that you are in the 14th century or whenever this takes place. The sets are going to be showing you a time you were like where are the streets, Chipotle, and the shopping malls? Oh yeah because this takes place in the medieval times so those didn’t exist yet and not for a heck of a long time. The cinematography was absolutely amazing showing you the lush green of England and some of the shots of the ocean when the French are coming. Oh yeah, then there’s that thing called acting and it’s pretty phenomenal in this film especially Oscar Isaac as the mad and immature King John. The film may not be as amazing as Gladiator, but it’s hard to repeat the exact magic of a film and so there is no point in fretting over it and just watch the film. I am going to give Robin Hood, an A for a final grade.
I am a sucker for sports movies if you couldn’t tell from yesterdays post, but I am also a sucker for true stories. In early to mid-2000’s, Russell Crowe (Gladiator) was the hottest thing going in Hollywood and in 2005 he would starred in Cinderella Man. Cinderella Man tells the story of the original underdog in boxing in former world heavyweight champion James J. Braddock. In the 1930’s, things were bad in America as the country was still in a depression. For James J. Braddock and his family, things were just as bad. His boxing career was going nowhere and he could barely afford to feed his family. That is until his manager Joe Gould (Paul Giamatti) gets Braddock a second chance at redemption. All he has to do is beat a couple of guys and he gets the shot of a lifetime against heavyweight champ Max Baer (Craig Bierko). The film also stars Renée Zellweger (Empire Records) as Mae Braddock, Paddy Considine (The World’s End) as Mike Wilson, Bruce McGill (Law Abiding Citizen) as Jimmy Johnston, Matthew G. Taylor (Pacific Rim) as Primo Carnera, Rance Howard (Chinatown) as Announcer Al Fazin, Troy Amos-Ross (Resurrecting The Champ) as John Henry Lewis, and the film was directed by Ron Howard (Apollo 13).
Besides being a fan of sports movies and/or true stories, I am also a huge fan of Boxing films and this is up there with a lot of them. Boxing has always been one of those sports where an underdog can surprise people (and inspire) and be champion. Cinderella Man is definitely that underdog story and Russell Crowe’s performance in the film is amazing. Of course, he’s not the only one who did an amazing job as Zellweger and Giamatti deserve some kudos as well. The writers did an amazing job making sure you saw how desperate the times were back in the early 1930’s and how resourceful people had to be back then.We haven’t seen a depression like that since then and I hope that we never get to ever. The action in the ring is amazing and a strong point as you see every punch and every bit of blood that is splattered. I love some of the camera shots where it looks as if you are the boxer entering the ring and sometimes it looks as if you are taking the punches and getting dazed. The costume department and hair/makeup deserve some kudos as well making us feel like we are being transported to those times. I love the look and feel of the prohibition/great depression era s far as hairstyles and clothing are concerned. Ron Howard is a true master of cinema and he has proven it to us over the years with the plethora of work. There are so many great boxing films out there, but try this one. I am going to give the film an A- for a final grade.