Posts Tagged ‘al pacino’

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Movie Reviews: The Irishman, Terminator: Dark Fate, The Lighthouse, El Camino, and more

November 22, 2019

This seems to be a growing trend for me. I get so backed on up movies I haven’t reviewed that I just spew them all out in one lazy, abbreviated post. I have to admit, I don’t feel much like writing in depth reviews for movies anymore – unless I’m really inspired to do so – but I’d like to find a way to streamline the process one movie at a time. Hope to figure it out soon. Until then…

The Irishman (2019) – I’m going to give this another go when it comes to Netflix next week because I was expecting a total masterpiece and what I got was… a very good film. The acting in this movie is pretty high level, especially from Joe Pesci and Al Pacino. De Niro is good also, but I’d be kind of surprised if his performance gets Oscar attention. This movie centers around the mob’s involvement with the Teamsters and the events leading up to Jimmy Hoffa’s disappearance (which I don’t know much about) so the story spans many decades and the filmmakers had to use a de-aging process on the actors and I think for the most part it looks pretty great. There was one scene where De Niro’s character is in his 20s or 30s and gives the business to a shop owner and he’s roughing him up with all the ferocity of a, well, 75 year old man. I think The Irishman is technically sound and will probably get plenty of Oscar attention, but the movie didn’t wow me and the story didn’t really move me. Also, at 3.5 hours, the run time isn’t exactly ideal and after one viewing I’m not sure it needed to be that long. I’m hoping to change my mind after watching it again and discover that it’s actually a great film.

7/10 (Highly Enjoyable)

Terminator: Dark Fate (2019) – I liked that they took the Halloween approach and ignored the last three movies and made this a direct sequel to Judgment Day. In fact, I watched The Terminator and Judgment Day in the days leading up to seeing Dark Fate and, uh, I’m pretty sure that was a mistake. Those films are just so much better and the drop in quality is impossible to ignore. Also, I absolutely hated the opening sequence of this movie. I was literally like wtf before the title even showed on screen. I didn’t find myself very invested in the new characters, as Arnold and Linda Hamilton provided pretty much all the highlights in this film. If the franchise plan is to move forward with the new group and leave Arnie and co. in the past, they are going to be in trouble. I suppose the action in this movie was pretty decent, but I checked out early on in the film and it only brought me back when Arnold was saying funny things. I thought it was strange that the future would send back a human-cyborg hybrid that had so many, uhm, red flags health-wise – the most excruciating moments of the movie were centered around trying to revive her. Give me a T-800 all day. I thought this movie was pretty middling and continues a nearly 30 year run of mediocre Terminator movies, but a couple of my friends assured me it had “top 5 sound all-time” (in case that’s something anyone cares about).

5/10 (Decent)

The Lighthouse (2019) – Willem Dafoe and Robert Pattinson are great in this, but… it was too weird for me. I didn’t really get it and had to read about it on Wikipedia to try and figure out what I missed. I felt the same way about director Robert Eggers’ last film The Witch. It kind of bothers me when something is critically lauded and I find myself scratching my head while watching it. I generally find that if something is universally acclaimed, it is usually pretty good, so when I don’t feel the same way, it makes me feel like I don’t get it. That makes me hesitant to say a movie like The Lighthouse is bad because I don’t really think that it is. The acting and cinematography are top notch, and it’s a rather beautiful looking film, but… the story appears to be over my head and I didn’t enjoy it much. I’m going to give this a 5 out of 10, but be warned, many of you out there could very well hate it.

5/10 (Decent)

El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie [Netflix] (2019) – Well, that was quite unnecessary. Breaking Bad is a top five show all-time for me (and maybe as high as #1), so I’m eager to dig into any additional content, but Jesse’s character was never the reason I watched the show and if they made a spin off series based on his character, I’m not even sure I’d tune in for that. This movie tells Jesse’s story immediately following the events of the series finale of Breaking Bad and while I guess I found watching this movie to be somewhat enjoyable, it was also a largely forgettable experience. Jesse Plemons reprising his role as Todd was by far the highlight of this movie. Something about that guy is just hilarious. Obviously, if you loved Breaking Bad you should probably watch this, but I can’t say it added much to the lore and for continued Breaking Bad content, Better Call Saul is far more entertaining.

5/10 (Decent) – and that might be generous

The Art of Self-Defense (2019) – This movie was hyped up to me and I had hopes that it would be a surprising dark comedy, but I thought it got pretty ridiculous about halfway through and it totally lost me as a viewer. The first half of the movie is quirky and funny, but it falls off a cliff when Jesse Eisenberg’s character becomes entangled in the seedy operations of the dojo he enlists at. I suppose it’s worth a watch, but I wouldn’t recommend it.

5/10 (Decent)

Batman vs Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2019) – Cowabunga! A 1990s 12 year old’s dream come true! Unfortunately, it’s 2019 and this movie is about 25 years too late for peak impact. Still, even though these aren’t the Turtles of my youth, I was pretty impressed with this mash up. I thought it was funny and entertaining and not nearly as cheesy as I expected. I’ve seen it twice now and enjoyed it both times. My only real gripe is that it seems like seeing Batman’s rogues gallery get infected by the ooze and turn into Manimals would be really cool, but the results are pretty disappointing. Overall though, this was a pleasant surprise, especially considering the poor run Batman’s animated feature length adventures have been on.

6/10 (Recommended)

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Revisiting 1990: Dick Tracy

September 13, 2010

Considered For: Guilty Pleasure

“The enemy of my enemy is my enemy.”

Plot: Popular detective Dick Tracy (Warren Beatty) tries to put a stop to a mob headed by Big Boy Caprice (Al Pacino) while maintaining a healthy relationship with girlfriend Tess Trueheart (Glenne Headley). Matters are complicated when he becomes a father figure for an orphaned boy and faces the seduction of a sultry singer named Breathless Mahoney (Madonna).

Dick Tracy was actually a pretty fun film. It reminded me a lot of Tim Burton’s Batman, released a year prior. The art direction definitely has a comic book feel to it and the make up of the villains is certainly campy. However, when comparing the two films, it’s not difficult to realize which one is superior. Batman has a much better story and looks waaaaaaaaaaay cooler, despite a lesser budget. I never read any Dick Tracy comics, so I don’t know anything about the mythology, but Warren Beatty couldn’t have been the best actor for this role. Sure, he directed the film, but his portrayal of Dick Tracy didn’t strike me as very suave or heroic… and maybe he’s not supposed to be. Al Pacino stole the show in this movie as Big Boy Caprice. It’s hard to believe he gave a performance as animated as this in the same calender year that he was so boring in The Godfather: Part III. It doesn’t even seem like the same person, which I guess is a testament to his range as an actor. He deserved his Oscar nomination for the role. Madonna channels her inner Marilyn Monroe as Breathless Mahoney, giving a sexy performance that combined solid acting with dainty singing. She is definitely a uniquely talented woman. The story here isn’t particularly interesting and the main conflict essentially boils down to Tracy deciding what’s more important to him: his career or his woman? Dick Tracy could easily have been a complete failure, but Pacino, Madonna, and interesting sets make it a movie worth remembering.

Grade: B
Viewings: 2
Replay Value: There’s a twist at the end that might make a second viewing worthwhile… or maybe not.
Sequel Potential: It grossed $100 million at a time when that was considered a blockbuster, but never got a sequel… the potential is there though.
Oscars?: Nominated for seven Oscars with wins for Best Make-Up, Best Art Direction, and Best Original Song. Pacino got a Supporting Actor nom.
Nudity?: You’d think not, considering the movie is rated PG, but you can clearly see Madonna’s nipples in one scene.

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Revisiting 1990: The Godfather: Part III

August 22, 2010

Considered For: Top 5, Best Sequel

“Just when I thought I was out… they pull me back in.”

Here are some interesting facts: I own three movies that were released in the year 1990; all of them are sequels; and until last night, I had owned one of them for at least eight years and had never seen it. That movie would be Francis Ford Coppola’s conclusion to his The Godfather trilogy (the other two 1990 movies I own are Die Hard 2 and Child’s Play 2). There are a couple of reasons why I never bothered to watch The Godfather: Part III even though it is a sequel to two of the best films ever made. One, it was released sixteen years after The Godfather: Part II, which is a bad omen in itself. Two, when people talk about the best movies ever made, they always mention the first two Godfather films, but never the last one; it’s almost as if it doesn’t exist. Lastly, I’ve heard a lot of talk over the years that Sofia Coppola’s performance in the movie completely ruined it.

I finally forced myself into watching the last Godfather movie because of this column and after noticing that it actually was nominated for Best Picture, which surprised me because I’ve long thought it was a universally hated film. It was nominated for seven Oscars in total and even has a respectable 7.6 rating on IMDB.com. For all the negative energy surrounding this movie, when I blew the dust off the cover, I discovered that it was actually somewhat critically acclaimed and probably worthy of viewing for my Revisiting 1990 column.

Oh my God, wake me up when it’s over. That pretty much sums up my thoughts on The Godfather: Part III. You have to ask yourself: was that really necessary? It’s been sixteen years… your two Godfather films have been widely accepted as two of the five best films ever made… Mr. Coppola, why are you revisiting this franchise? Did this story really need to be told? After watching it, I’m going to say NO. Unlike the first two films, which have many memorable and iconic characters, this movie doesn’t really make much of an impression. Al Pacino doesn’t even seem like he’s playing the same person. He reminds me nothing of the Michael Corleone I remember and he looks sixty years older. With the exception of Kay (Diane Keaton) and Connie (Talia Shire), and some verbal and visual references to the first two films, this movie might as well have nothing to do with them.

It’s kind of hard to say what the story was here. I honestly had a hard time following it. I don’t know if it was actually confusing or if I just was having difficulty because I didn’t care about it. From what I did manage to retain, Michael Corleone is trying to legitimize his business. He has become estranged from Kay and his children, Mary (Sophia Coppola) and Anthony (Franc D’Ambrosio), and is reunited with them in this film. He’s displeased to hear that his son would rather sing opera than finish his degree in law. His son also wishes to have no part of Michael’s business. Michael is introduced to Vincent Mancini (Andy Garcia), who is apparently Michael’s brother Sonny’s illegitimate son and Vincent is more than happy to carry on the family business. Blah blah blah blah blah.

Seriously, who cares? What annoys me the most about this film is that it simply did not have to be made. The story here isn’t nearly strong enough to bring the franchise out of retirement after a sixteen year slumber. Mr. Coppola, you already made two of the greatest films ever, please don’t spoil it with a convoluted third installment. If there was a story dying to be told here, then I’d understand, but in my opinion, the script is the worst part about this movie. It’s not like the extremely belated sequel can’t be done. Toy Story 3 did it extremely well as recently as this year.

While the script was by far the biggest offender for me, the casting of Sofia Coppola is deservedly panned. She honestly does a laughably bad job in this movie. While the immensely talented actors around her naturally deliver their lines, she’s sounds like she’s doing an imitation of bad dialogue. Something about the way she says her lines screams that there is someone in this movie that doesn’t belong. Kudos to Coppola not letting this role ruin her self-esteem and growing up to become a pretty talented filmmaker in her own right. As if the casting of his own daughter wasn’t suspect enough the role called for an incestuous relationship. Sleeping with your first cousin is still considered incest, right? Seriously? Your own daughter? In her first major acting role? Good job, buddy.

While it might seem like I hated everything about The Godfather: Part III, I did enjoy Andy Garcia’s performance as Vincent Mancini. He’s the lone character that seemed like he would’ve been at home in the world created in the first two films and thus, is the really the only character I liked in this movie. He gets to shine in a quite a few scenes, particularly when a couple of would-be hit me break into his apartment and find themselves in an interrogation. I also enjoyed his line to Mary Corleone: “Love someone else.” Garcia was one of the few bright spots in an otherwise cloudy movie.

I don’t really understand how The Godfather: Part III received seven Academy Award nominations. It makes me wonder if these people saw the same film I did. Could they really tell me today, with a straight face, that they would rather watch this movie instead of Miller’s Crossing? I’ll give them credit for recognizing Andy Garcia’s performance, but Best Picture and Best Director for one of the more disappointing sequels of all-time? Really? While Coppola might have gotten a pass based on past credentials at the 1991 Academy Awards, my recommendation to everyone else is to skip this movie (or pretend like it doesn’t exist) and remember the first two Godfather films as the great pillars of film excellence that they are and not let this last entry tarnish their memory.

Grade: C-
Viewings: 1
Replay Value: Not much. I would watch it again someday to see if I can better follow the story.
Sequel Potential? Has it been sixteen years yet? God, let’s hope not.
Oscars: Undeserved nominations for Best Picture and Best Director. Five more nominations, including a deserved nom for Andy Garcia in the Best Supporting Actor category.
Nudity? Bridget Fonda has a decent scene. Not sure if you actually see anything though.