Tag Archives: Keri Russell

[Review] – Goats

1 Sep

Title: Goats
Year: 2012
Director: Christopher Neil
Writer: Mark Poirier, based on his own novel
Starring: David Duchovny, Vera Farmiga, Graham Phillips, Keri Russell, Justin Kirk, Ty Burrell
MPAA Rating: R, drug content including teen drug and alcohol use, language, sexuality and nudity
Runtime: 94 min
IMDb Rating: 4.5
Rotten Tomatoes: 20%
Metacritic: 38

Ellis has a really strange kind of life. He’s fifteen and about leave home for an East Coast prep school. Leaving home means leaving his mother, Wendy, this New Age hippie who’s all about self-help rituals and is currently dating a hustler played by Justin Kirk. And it also means leaving the paternal figure he’s known for most of his life, a seriously kooky individual known as Goat Man who’s been living in his pool house for the last few years, his name coming from the fact that he’s a sage who herds goats, living there free of charge in exchange for some helping out with some chores. Goat Man’s been teaching Ellis some earthy stuff, not academic knowledge but lessons about commitment and mind power.

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Leaves of Grass

14 Apr

Title: Leaves of Grass
Year: 2009
Director: Tim Blake Nelson
Writer: Tim Blake Nelson
Starring: Edward Norton, Richard Dreyfuss, Susan Sarandon, Melanie Lynskey, Keri Russell, Tim Blake Nelson
MPAA Rating: R, violence, pervasive language, and drug content
Runtime: 105 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 7.0
Rotten Tomatoes: 52%

Oh Tim Blake Nelson, what a seriously wacky film you just made, yes, I got you to thank for that, you wrote and directed the film after all, but I guess that where the real thanks have to go is to Edward Norton, the guy you wrote the film for, saying if he didn’t take it you wouldn’t do it, the guy who actually took a huge cut from his usual paycheck to star in this film. This is a great film you two just made.

Norton tackles a dual role in this one, of twin brothers, one an intellectual, the other one a pot farmer. If you take a look back at Norton’s career he’s done not a single crappy film, not one, he’s a guy that not only has an amazing talent, he is one of my five favorite living actors after all, but that also knows how to pick them like few others do. And Tim Blake Nelson, who’s first and foremost an actor, has only done three films before this one, not a large number, granted, but the three of them have been quite good, reason enough to believe this one was going to be awesome.

Norton’s first character is a philosophy professor at Brown University, Bill Kincaid, who’s talking about Socrates as the film opens. He’s great at his job, published author, a rockstar amongst the intellectuals, but then he gets a call saying his twin brother, Brady, is dead. That’s when the marijuana part of it all kicks in, that is, after all, the substance around which this film in a way revolves, and it’s a seriously messed up but incredible ride to be in.

He goes back home, not because he’s a huge family man, he has severed all ties with them really, but because that’s the kind of good guy he is, but there he finds out his mom, played by Susan Sarandon, is still a pothead, and finds out that his brother is actually very much alive, as his brother’s best friend, played by Nelson himself, informs him, they just needed Bill there to be an alibi for Brady when he goes to Tulsa to meet with the main marijuana dealer over there.

It says a lot about Norton that he can be so masterful at these two very different characters in the same film, he’s two completely different men, one the intellectual who’s a great guy, the other a huge stoner that’s growing the best material in town. Norton is simply a master of his craft, he’s too good at this, and part of the credit has to go Nelson who creates these two beautiful characters so well, they are both different in ways of living, and Norton plays them accordingly, but they are both incredibly smart, Bill in the more conventional sense, but Brady has crated a pot farm that’s revolutionary, he’s a smart guy too, just in a different way, and the dialogue Nelson creates for them both is outstanding.

Tim Blake Nelson is a Tulsa native, and it shows, his portrayal of the Jewish community within Tulsa is incredible for once, and during the film his knowing of the territory is truly on display. The dialogue is unbelievably well-written, the acting is superb and not just by Norton, just look at the cast, it even has Keri Russell! So yeah, go see this one, it’s a great story, has tremendous characters, outstanding acting and a great philosophical viewpoint presented with utmost care and insight by Nelson.

Grade: B+

Extraordinary Measures

30 Mar

Title: Extraordinary Measures
Year: 2010
Director: Tom Vaughan
Writer: Robert Nelson Jacobs, adapting from the book by Geeta Anand
Starring: Brendan Fraser, Harrison Ford, Keri Russell
MPAA Rating: PG, thematic material, language and a mild suggestive moment
Runtime: 105 min
Major Awards:
IMDb Rating: 6.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 29%

Extraordinary Measures is the first feature released by CBS Films and, quite honestly, it’s one that should have been better suited as a special in the network’s TV station because, even though Fraser and Ford are both really well-known actors, and Keri Russell is a sweetheart to many, including yours truly, and even though the story is quite compelling (and actually happened), the film itself delivers what a good TV movie sets out to deliver, but as a motion picture it falls way too short.

Two kids have a rare genetic disease that won’t grant them over a year to continue living but then their dad goes on to contact this daredevil scientist who may just have a possible cure. This is a story we have no doubt seen before, more than once even, but still, it’s a story that if executed correctly can make for a decent enough film.

Unfortunately, even though it has Fraser as the dad and Russell as the mother, the story doesn’t go anywhere close to where it could and to where it ought, with such fine actors as those two their relationship could have fueled the story into a moving film, but instead they connect only about the utmost necessary stuff, and we never get to see as deeply inside of them as we need to in order to genuinely feel for these characters. Sure, their kids are really sick, and for that we feel for them, but we feel for them as movie characters, not as real people.

Ford plays the doctor who has the cure, and who Fraser’s character flies out to seek,  in the real story the doctor is a guy who worked at Duke and was Asian, Ford probably had the character then molded to fit him, and to make it seem cooler because the doctor acted as though he didn’t care, like some sort of TV-movie Gregory House, and completely lost the essence of the real story, its these sort of things that fuck this one up, the film had plenty opportunities to be good, but it ended up being mediocre at its best, and utterly bad for the most part.

The reason I’m pissed at this film, and am giving it the low grade I’m giving it, is because it has Keri Russell and lets her go to waste, and I hate people I adore go to waste. So yeah, if you’re told this is a really emotional movie based on a true story about devoted parents, à la Lorenzo’s Oil, then ignore those comments, don’t see this one unless you are the type of person who loves Lifetime movies, and even then, only see it if it actually ever airs on Lifetime, buying an admission ticket for it just isn’t worth it.

Grade: D+