Tag Archives: Danny Huston

[Review] – Hitchcock

4 Dec

Hitchcock

Title: Hitchcock
Year: 2012
Director: Sacha Gervasi
Writer: John J. McLaughlin, based on the book by Stephen Rebello
Starring: Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, Danny Huston, Jessica Biel, James D’Arcy, Michael Stuhlbarg
MPAA Rating: PG-13, some violent images, sexual content and thematic material
Runtime: 98 min
IMDb Rating: 7.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 64%
Metacritic: 56

Alfred Hitchcock is, as we all know, one of the all-time great directors in the history of film. You don’t need me to tell you that, you’ve seen the movies that speak for themselves, or maybe you’ve even read the books about him. Maybe one of those books you read was Stephen Rebello‘s Alfred Hitchcock and the Making of Psycho, which chronicled every little aspect of the 1960 all-time classic that introduced us to Norman Bates. This film, aptly titled Hitchcock, adapts that book and sees every little thing about the making of Psycho, focussing especially on the relationship between the Master of Suspense and Alma Reville, his wife and partner.

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[Review] – Wrath Of The Titans

15 Apr

Title: Wrath of the Titans
Year: 2012
Director: Jonathan Liebesman
Writers: Dan Mazeau and David Johnson, based on a story by Mr. Mazeau, Mr. Johnson and Greg Berlanti, based on the original 1981 screenplay by Beverley Cross
Starring: Sam Worthington, Rosamund Pike, Bill Nighy, Édgar Ramírez, Toby Kebbell, Danny Huston, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson
MPAA Rating: PG-13, intense sequences of fantasy violence and action
Runtime: 99 min
IMDb Rating: 6.2
Rotten Tomatoes: 23%
Metacritic: 37

I remember watching Clash of the Titans in 2010 and not really liking it at all (I gave it a C-), thinking that while director Louis Leterrier certainly seemed to really like the original film he was remaking, he paid no mind whatsoever to any sort of storyline and just dedicated himself to crafting these huge action set pieces, not to mention that it was converted to 3D in post-production which is just a really shameless way to try to get more money. And money it got, bringing in over $490 million at the worldwide box office, which meant of course that a sequel to it was fast-tracked, which in turn resulted in us getting Wrath of the Titans, which, even though sees an improvement in the 3D department, is just as crappy in every other aspect.

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The Warrior’s Way

7 Dec

Title: The Warrior’s Way
Year:
2010
Director:
Sngmoo Lee
Writer:
Sngmoo Lee
Starring:
Jang Dong-gun, Geoffrey Rush, Kate Bosworth, Danny Huston, Tony Cox, Ti Lung
MPAA Rating:
R, strong bloody violence
Runtime:
100 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating:
6.6
Rotten Tomatoes:
47%

The last new film I had seen before checking this one out had been The King’s Speech, a near-perfect movie that had Geoffrey Rush giving a performance that could certainly earn him the second Oscar of his career this coming February. Now Mr. Rush also stars here in The Warrior’s Way, and this is a prime example of just how different a performance can be quality-wise when the plot and character is so bad as it is here.

It’s obvious that The Warrior’s Way wasn’t trying to be The King’s Speech or anything like that, but still, Mr. Rush and his co-stars try to no avail to make something out of the stuff they’re given to work with here. This is a film that I just sincerely didn’t like, it tries to give a crazy loaded mix of western and eastern cinema stereotypes but it all comes off all sorts of wrong and the end result is nothing to admire.

It’s nothing to admire because there have been many films that have tried to mix genres and styles in one movie and have done a far better job at it. This year’s The Good, the Bad, the Weird, a western from South Korea which I rated B comes to mind, as does Red Hill, an Australian flick from this year which combined the western and thriller genres extremely well and I gave a B+ to. Those films worked because they knew how to execute these combination of influences, while The Warrior’s Way never finds its way, at times trying to be a funny action film, other times looking like a straight-up Asian martial arts flick, this one’s just plain messy.

Sngmoo Lee, the director and writer of this tiresome spectacle, tried to do something neat here, I give him points for that. This is all shot much like 300 was shot, creating everything on a green-screen and getting computers to generate much of the show. But this doesn’t have the style 300 had, and the Leonidas of this story is nowhere as cool a character. His name is Yang, who is the warrior of the title, and he is ordered to kill the last remaining survivor from the enemy clan he battled, which just happens to be a baby. However, he can’t bring himself to do that and so he flees with the baby to a western American town.

And that’s when we meet Mr. Rush’s character, who’s the town drunk and one of Yang’s new friends in the new town he came to to escape those who wanted to kill the baby and him. And this is one horrible role for Mr. Rush, his character is so cliché-laden that he provides one horrible performance with it. Same goes for Kate Bosworth, who plays Lynne, a local girl who learns some knife-throwing skill from Yang. Ms. Bosworth’s an actress I usually like, yet here she’s all sorts of wrong, her character is just awfully written and no one could have made something good out of Lynne.

The tale has fights against Americans with guns and Asians with ninja style moves with swords, and I usually like that because it ensues in some comic book style violence which is, at the very least, fun to watch. And even though the violence here is at times cool, most of the time it feels like stuff we’ve seen before way too many times and done better, slow-motion bullets, CGI-created backgrounds, this is old stuff for us, and even though it’s technically well done, this one adds not a single fresh element to the mix.

Not to mention the script is horrible. Mr. Lee wrote a screenplay full of clichés inspired by Sergio Leone’s western epics that mash seriously bad with his penchant for martial arts sequences and forcefully imposed comedic moments that never bring out any laughs. And as I said, the fact that the action sequences are well done on a technical scale is ultimately unimportant because even though they’re pretty nifty to us they don’t show anything new, and the fact that the story is so bad doesn’t get us engaged to them story-wise, so we just watch them for a few cool moments. The Warrior’s Way is ultimately a mindless spectacle that at times is fun, but for the most part is rather unbearable, especially if you like me saw it just after watching Mr. Rush do wonders in a role that actually is worthy of his talents.

Grade: C-

Robin Hood

17 Jul

Title: Robin Hood
Year: 2010
Director: Ridley Scott
Writer: Brian Helgeland, based on the story by himself, Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris
Starring: Russell Crowe, Cate Blanchett, Matthew Macfadyen, Mark Strong, Oscar Isaac, Kevin Durand, Mark Addy, William Hurt, Danny Huston, Max von Sydow
MPAA Rating: PG-13, violence including intense sequences of warfare, and some sexual content
Runtime: 140 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 44%

In press junkets or interviews we heard time and time again that this Robin Hood was completely different from the ones we had seen before, that Russell Crowe had nothing to do with Sean Connery, that Cate Blanchett had nothing to do with Audrey Hepburn, and that, it turns out, was exactly right, this version of Robin Hood is unlike any version we’ve seen before, it’s a prequel, Robin Hood isn’t the folk hero who stole from the rich to give to the poor yet, we just see Robin lead an uprising, forming an army to fight off the French, which, as we were told in the trailers, is what will build his subsequent fame.

This is indeed action-packed, and there’s a helluva lot of CGI action sequences that look great, but I just think we should have seen the story we all know, when instead the movie ends and tells us that that was how the legend began, but seriously, we should get the legend and not the prologue to it, we know the legend, that’s how we fell in love with this character, this telling isn’t bad, it’s just not that great, Mr. Crowe gives it his best but that’s just not great enough, and as for Cate Blanchett who plays Maid Marion, well, firstly let me just state that, to me, Ms. Blanchett is one of the five greatest living actresses, but Marion isn’t a maid in this story, this is all set before that, and as such this is a completely different character, and because of that she’s played differently, and that threw me off, I loved the Maid Marion character from all the past films, this one I liked because it was played by Cate Blanchett, but that’s about it. When this film was still in the speculation stages the many names that were thrown around for this character included Scarlett Johansson, Emily Blunt, Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman, Rachel Weisz and Kate Winslet among others, Sienna Miller was actually cast at one point I believe, and from that all I can say is that actress-wise we would have always had a great Maid Marion, it’s just that without the “Maid” part of her title, I didn’t feel I knew her.

And there’s nothing bad with introducing characters in new ways, I just didn’t love what they did to them this time around, I mean, it’s extremely well-done, the action is shot really well and the violence is quite cool, we’ve come to expect that from most Scott/Crowe collaborations, but I will say that I would have probably liked the film more had it not been named Robin Hood, sure, naming it that gave them a whole lot of better marketing options, but it also gave the audience expectations, expectations that weren’t necessarily shattered, but rather, I would say, they were avoided, and you can’t do that when you have such a heavy name as your title.

The film is a bit too long, that’s also very true, but I didn’t mind that much, I just liked it that we were given one seriously beautifully photographed film and a very intelligent actor in the lead role, yes, I have my troubles with the film and I have listed them above, but they’re mostly troubles with what this film did to the Robin Hood name, but as a stand-alone outing, this one, for me, worked well, plus, there’s a scene in which Will Scarlett says to Little Jon that he should never go for the most beautiful girl but instead go for the more plain-looking one, he uses the exact same words Russell Crowe’s character in A Beautiful Mind used when describing his theory to get girls, I thought that was a pretty genius nod to a previous film of this one’s lead actor.

Grade: B

Boogie Woogie

14 Jul

Title: Boogie Woogie
Year: 2010
Director: Duncan Ward
Writer: Danny Moynihan
Starring: Amanda Seyfried, Gillian Anderson, Stellan Skarsgard, Heather Graham, Christopher Lee, Joanna Lumley, Alan Cumming, Danny Huston, Gemma Atkinson
MPAA Rating:
Runtime: 94 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 5.6
Rotten Tomatoes: 30%

I’m unsure about how I feel about Boogie Woogie, I mean, from time to time I did find myself positively smiling and giggling at stuff this satire threw at me, but more often than that I found myself not really enjoying the process, finding this film to be ‘warm’ and in that temperature scale I just created to illustrate a point any satire has to be at ‘hot’ to be successful, this one had moments when it started getting hot, but just when it seemed to be able to get there a cool bucket of water chilled it down, and that process was tough to watch.

The film delves into the art scene of London, and while interesting at times and certainly with a good pedigree on the subject since it had some knowledgable people to take input from ,I think it could have submerged itself further on the subject at hand, the one bright spot in this film, and the reason why my grade for it will be better than it should really be, is the cast, which is seriously awesome, just take a look at all the names above, but still, the cast is given a weak script, the camerawork is extremely subpar and it generally doesn’t feel like the sort of movie it was clearly intended to be.

Now, even though I give praise to the actors in the cast, there are two things to mention, the direction the cast was given was clearly not great, and secondly and more importantly, even though they’re all good actors, they’re not that good as to make an Altman-esque film, which is the vibe this film shamelessly tried to pull off with a huge ensemble and a full-on exploration of a specific world or genre. Not to mention that Duncan Ward, the film’s director, is a first-time feature film director, and he’s certainly no Robert Altman, and when he’s five feature-length films into his career I doubt he’ll have a MASH like Altman did. But then again pretty much nobody can do what Altman did, so let’s not bully him, let’s just say he should’ve known better.

I won’t really go ahead and describe the whole plot, I saw the film more than two months ago and I probably forgot most of it anyway, but I’ll say that Amanda Seyfried is actually pretty good in it, even though I say that in pretty much anything she’s in, and Gillian Anderson is an actress I’ll watch in anything, and think she has become quite the charming actress post-X-Files. But again, for the pleasure I got from the castmembers I’ll give this film a rather okay grade, but unfortunately this film, while it does have its moments of nasty fun amidst it’s completely off’-target over -the-top demeanor, is one I’ll forget all about in a couple of months, just like I forgot the majority of its plot two months after watching it.

Grade: B-

Clash of the Titans

11 Apr

Title: Clash of the Titans
Year: 2010
Director: Louis Leterrier
Writers: Lawrence Kasdan, Travis Beacham, Phil Hay and Matt Manfredi, adapting from the script of the original 1981 film by Beverly Cross
Starring: Sam Worthington, Mads Mikkelsen, Alexa Davalos, Danny Huston, Gemma Arterton, Pete Postelthwaite, Ralph Fiennes, Liam Neeson, Polly Walker, Kaya Scodelario, Nicholas Hoult, Agyness Deyn, Natalia Vodianova
MPAA Rating: PG-13, fantasy action violence, some frightening images and brief sensuality
Runtime: 106 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.4
Rotten Tomatoes: 31%

Clash of the Titans is a nice remake, it’s not a good one, but when seeing it you know that Leterrier has seen the original 1981 film and loves it and wanted to do it right, in that sense he does, because you do sense it’s an affectionate remake, but it’s not, however, a good film.

The mortal people of Argos have had it with the gods up there in Olympus and have recruited Perseus, played by Sam Worthington, a demi-god son of Zeus and a human woman, they have recruited him to start a revolt against the gods, which the gods will obviously try to put down.

Clash of the Titans is obviously not as much about the story as it is about being the action blockbuster that is, as its the standard for these films nowadays, also available in 3D. The thing is, this film wasn’t shot in 3D, it was converted to it later in post-production, and if you know me you’ll know I’m not huge on 3D in most cases, and in this case I hated it because it wasn’t even meant to be shown in 3D, it was an afterthought from a studio that wanted to make more money.

But nevertheless, the action sequences in 2D are technically outstanding and the kraken was beautifully done, and I’m a fashion junkie, so seeing Natalia Vodianova and Agyness Deyn show up for small roles was an extra treat.

I could go on telling you about the plot, but it’s irrelevant, this is all about the action scenes, it’s all about the craftsmanship of it all, how convincing they can make the kraken and Andromeda and everything else in between, and to be fair they do make them quite nicely, but the film itself is entirely silly, the acting is completely stale even if they do have Neeson and Fiennes on board, but who cares, nobody will go to a film called Clash of the Titans to see Oscar-worthy interactions between Hades and Zeus. So yeah, I do kind of recommend it if you like this sort of stuff, just do yourself a favor, don’t pay the extra $5 for the 3D.

Grade: C-

Edge of Darkness

31 Mar

Title: Edge of Darkness
Year: 2010
Director: Martin Campbell
Writer: William Monahan, Andrew Bovell
Starring: Mel Gibson, Ray Winstone, Danny Huston, Bojana Novakovic, Jay O. Sanders
MPAA Rating: R, strong bloody violence and language
Runtime: 117 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.9
Rotten Tomatoes: 55%

Edge of Darkness was a film I was really looking forward to, not because I thought it would be great, and not exactly because I wanted to see the return of Mel Gibson. I say not exactly because it was because of it, but I didn’t want his return to be a good one in order to make Edge of Darkness shine, but rather because a solid return would be a good sign that The Beaver, his next project which I’ve been psyched about since forever, would be more than competent.

And a solid return it was, Gibson, who hadn’t had a starring role since 2002’s Signs, seemed like his old self, and that’s more than enough considering all that has transpired around him since said film. Revenge thrillers are something Gibson has done before, and in this one he is yet again a really convincing action hero that will make this film entertain audiences they way he used to.

I love the fact that Gibson could overpower what has gone on behind the screen and become a likeable lead as he plays Craven, a Boston cop who’s daughter, Emma, is the love of his life and who comes to visit him at home once. Then a man knocks at the door, Emma answers, a hooded man shouts “Craven!” and shoots poor Emma dead.

It is thought that Craven himself was the target, though Craven isn’t entirely sure and focusses his attention on the company Emma worked for, Northmoor, who’s chairman is played by Danny Huston, who also played an evil company man in The Constant Gardener.

Northmoor is obviously super evil and Craven is of course the typical hero in these sort of films, a really kick-ass cop who’s out to get revenge and who has absolutely nothing left to lose, in that sense Edge of Darkness brings absolutely nothing new to the table, but it has Gibson back in top form and a terrific Ray Winstone in the role that was originally supposed to go to Robert DeNiro before he dropped out a few days into shooting and just because of that I celebrate this film, and I continue to think Beaver will kick ass.

Grade: B-