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Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

cape-fearSo this is kind of weird for me. I saw this movie a couple of months ago and started writing a review where I was telling you how God awful bored I was at watching this supposed thriller.  But I didn’t finish the review and now its two months later and so I decided to watch this movie again so I could refresh my memory and I found it to be not as horrible as the first time I watched.  It is still bad but not as bad as I thought.

After serving 8 years in prison for assault and battery, Max Cady , played by Robert Mitchum (The Longest Day,) tracks down Sam Bowden, played by Gregory Peck (To Kill a Mockingbird,)who Cady personally blames for being in jail because Bowden intervened during the attack and testified against him.  Once Bowden realizes Cady is in town it becomes a game of cat and mouse as Cady stalks Bowden and his family but makes sure to never cross the line and break the law or gets caught breaking the law.  Bowden begins to lose his grasp of right and wrong as the family dog is poisoned and his daughter Nancy is hit by a car running away from Bowden.    Bowden decides to set a trap for Cady on a house boat on Cape Fear River where he can take care of Cady once and for all.

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Expectations are a funny thing.  When I watched this film for the first time I had high expectations because back in the early 1990’s I remembered the hype of the remake of this film and all I heard was how intense it was and how much of a bad ass Robert Mitchum was as Cady.  As I was watching the movie for the first time I was stunned at how slow the pace was from the beginning.  It reminds me of what my movie cohort Benn Farrell usually says about all of these movies made before the 1960’s.  Many of the scenes looked as if it was shot on a theater production stage as opposed to an actual movie stage.  The only time we had any wide shots were when there were scenes shot outside.  Almost all of the inside shots were close up shots that just give you the feeling that they are shooting in a box.  One of my biggest issues with this production was the use of the music in the film.  When I first heard it during the opening credits and establishing shot I was thinking that this was perfect mood music to set the movie up.  The only problem is that it seems like the music never disappears.  It got so bad that the more I heard it I was saying to myself, “Here comes the bad guy about to do bad things.”    The use of music reminded me of movies from the 1940’s on how music was used to set the music of every scene.  The last thing I will say about the production is that I know that this movie was made in 1962 but we never really saw the character Cady do bad things until the final act when he killed a cop in a stakeout.  Other than that, we heard a lot about how bad a man he was, and when he was about to do something bad in the movie, like beat up the woman he picked up at the local bar in his apartment, we see the girl look at Cady who has malicious intent in his eyes and she gets up to run…somewhere…and he grabs her as she grabs a swinging door and then all we see are shadows moving beyond the swinging door.   Mind you this entire time there is menacing bad guy music the ENTIRE time.  No words are spoken at all.  I know he is a bad guy but something to prove it in the beginning would be nice other than stories and mean music.

Despite the fact that the music was in the way and the production didn’t help, Robert Mitchum was still pretty awesome as the bad guy Cady.  He was menacing without the music and was very believable as a person who would appear to hate women in general.  Gregory Peck was pretty awesome as the desperate lawyer who wanted to protect his family.  I would say that the acting overall was pretty good.  I will say that with the exception of Mitchum the rest of the actors seemed to almost pantomime their acting.  I guess what I mean is that during the many times that there were no speaking parts and the camera was just panning between the actors only Mitchum seemed to be acting with his body and the rest, especially the ladies, all looked like either angry or shocked mannequins.

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I mentioned earlier that when I had high expectations for this movie I thought it was painfully slow and it was.  I kept waiting to see this suspenseful thriller about a killer stalking a family instead I go a slow and slumbering story about a guy who was more creeping on the young daughter and less scary stalker.  I will say that the costume department did a wonderful job of making a 15 year old girl look 1960’s naughty and by that I mean she was constantly wearing short skin tight shorts as well as a tight blouse…almost all the time.  By our standards today that would be nun-like but in 1962 that is terrible.  So the creeper factor was there every time Cady was looking at her in bad ways.  But it still didn’t make up for the slow pace of the film.  Basically every time Cady would do something to taunt Bowden there would be a 10 minute discussion as to what to do about it.  It got tiresome after an hour.

Lastly I will say that I also mentioned that the second time I watched this film and with no expectations I was able to pay attention to it more.  I can’t tell you why other than I kept thinking that the first time I saw this film it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I thought it was worse than it was and that’s on me.  There are a lot worse films from this time period but it just wasn’t as awesome as I was expecting.

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bonfireBoy I must have really done something to Benn to make me watch this film. I mean sure I asked him to do an essay on the Cinema de Stephen Segal, but he never did it.  And I didn’t make him because that is a hell that no one should have to deal with.  But then makes me watch this film, and when I text him and say that he finally has shown me a Tom Hanks movie worse than Joe Versus the Volcano, he laughs and says, yeah I watched and knew it was bad.  Well then why the hell make me watch it then?  Ok, so you just wait until I find something terrible for you to watch, Mr. Farrell.

Sherman McCoy, played by Tom Hanks (Nothing In Common,) is a Wall Street Bond trader who is also married with a kid.  Sherman also has a mistress Maria Ruskin, played by Melanie Griffith (Working Girl,) accidentally runs over a black teenager in the South Bronx while driving his car while in the car.  This sets off a chain of events that causes his life to unravel under the scrutiny of a minister, a district attorney running for mayor, an assistant district attorney trying to score points with his boss, and a down on his luck reporter, named Peter Fallow, played by Bruce Willis (Sin City,) looking for a story.  As Fallow starts to uncover the facts he begins to realize that Sherman is being railroaded by everyone and looks to help him out.

So to begin with we have to talk about the elephant in the room.  What in God’s name is Melanie Griffith doing in this movie?  Better yet, who the hell cast her to act in this film?  Her Southern accent is absolutely atrocious.  She hasn’t got a great voice to begin with because it seems like to me her regular voice is barely above a whisper.  Then you add an uneven and almost unpracticed sounding accent and every time she is on screen I am hating every second of it.  I know at this point in time she was coming off her Academy Award nomination for Working Girl, but that clearly was an anomaly on a otherwise unspectacular career and even Benn said in his review of Working Girl, click here to read it, she wasn’t all that good.  There is only one reason why, in my eyes, she was cast for this role and it can be seen in this picture here.

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While I was watching Tom Hanks in this film I was thinking of his performance in the movie The Man with the One Red Shoe.  For large parts of the film Hanks was playing this part very stiff and by the look in his eyes he wasn’t enjoying participating in this film.  There was nothing to like about his character in the film.  He is cheating on his wife and he is an arrogant tool.  So it’s hard to feel sorry for him when he discovers that everyone has decided to either betray him or frame him or use his situation for political gain.   And I really want to cheer for him because he is Tom Hanks!  Plus the writing was poor in this film, for many reasons, but one of the big ones is that it fails in showing how Hanks’s character Sherman has become estranged from his parents.  We get one back handed compliment from his wife Judy, played by Kim Cattrall (Crossroads,) about how he isn’t his dad, and we get one lunch at the beginning that shows that his father, played by Donald Moffit (Clear and Present Danger,) and his mother are concerned about him.  So this makes one of the final scenes anti-climatic when Sherman’s dad shows up in his empty apartment to tell him he loves him and supports him.  It would have been great if we had seen that they were angry with each other but that wasn’t the case so the reconciliation seemed unnecessary and pointless other than to feel good about the moment.   I will say that because it was Tom Hanks I was at least a little bit happier, so it did work, but only because I like Tom Hanks.

The other main star in this film, Bruce Willis, is also playing an unlikeable character.  He is a drunk and he writes the article based the lies of the people who have the agenda against Sherman.  So when he suddenly realizes the truth that Maria was the one driving, not Sherman, and he is helping to destroy an innocent man, it seems a little out of character for him and also self-serving.  In fact the whole point of the film is to show how one man can fall but still have everything and how a man can come from nothing and have everything, but still have nothing.  Bruce Willis also played the character of Peter Fallow in the same way he played his character on the TV show Moonlighting with one difference in that unlike the character of David Addison on the TV show, Peter Fallon has no “character” what so ever.  He is just a robotic reporter who is unable to convey emotion.

Like the three main characters, the rest of the cast, save one person, are all horrible people and impossible to cheer for in any capacity.  They are all crooked and corrupt and are just not good people and therefore I don’t care about them.  Now I am guessing that this is the point of the movie, as is I would guess the point of the book that it is based on.  The book was written during the 80’s where all the supposed evil in the country was centered in Wall Street and the people who worked in it.  So why a make a movie where you have to try and make one of these likeable?  I don’t get it.  But I did say there was one character who was likeable and that was the Judge in the Brooklyn court, Judge Leonard White, played by Morgan Freeman (Batman Begins.)  He is the one that is constantly yelling at all those who are corrupted and putting them in order, especially at Sherman’s trial.  He has a great speech about telling everyone to be decent.  Of course to me, the only other actor in this movie that has the credibility that Tom Hanks does would be Morgan Freeman.  He is an amazing actor and he had the only decent character in this movie.

This movie has no real redeeming quality because it has no one that you really want to cheer for as a hero.  Then you throw in the incredibly annoying voice and bad acting ability of Melanie Griffith and you have a recipe for disaster.  For some odd reason I remember the hype surrounding this movie back in 1990 before it came out and then the horrid reviews and box office failure of it.  I didn’t see it because of all that and now that I have seen it part of me wants to see some harm befall Benn Farrell.  It’ll pass because I don’t want it to happen, but making me watch movies like this makes me want to think it.

 

 

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nothingincommonThis movie to me was a prelude to how great Tom Hanks could be as an actor. This movie is also one of my favorite movies ever because no matter how many times I watch it I get so caught up in the film that I can’t focus on anything else, like write a review.  This film got me on a personal level because of the relationship I had with my father and even more so now that my father is gone.  Despite that I still argue that this is one of Hanks best performances he has had and in my list of Top Five Favorite Tom Hanks films this film is in the Top 5.

David Basner, played by Tom Hanks (The Man with One Red Shoe,) is a single, newly promoted executive in a successful Chicago advertising agency.  In an effort to gain a possible partnership in the agency he is trying bring in a new client, an airline, to the agency.  Before he can get started he gets a phone call from his estranged father Max, played by Jackie Gleason (Smokey and the Bandit,) who tells David that his mom, Lorraine, played by Eva Marie Saint (On the Waterfront,) has left him.  David begins to endure the worst time of his life as he tries to understand what happened to his parents, helping the both, dealing with the new client’s daughter Cheryl Ann, played by Sela Ward (Independence Day: Resurgence,) who is an executive with the new client, and leaning on his friend and ex high school girlfriend Donna, played by Bess Armstrong, (Jaws 3-D,) for support.

To me this is the first movie that Tom Hanks shows his ability to be a great dramatic actor.  In his scenes with Jackie Gleason he does a great job of portraying a low level form of dislike for the man as well as a begrudging love.  He also does a great job in showing his frustration with having to try and be a caring son to his separated parents and not have it affect his work, which it definitely does.  But not only is he able to show his dramatic chops in this film but he is able to make the funny scenes in this comedy drama very funny.  I don’t know if it was writing or improvisation but his quick wit was on display when he is sparing with his fellow employees as well as with the owner of the airline.   Hanks also makes this character very likeable.  I enjoy watching him in every scene and I am cheering for him when he sleeps with the airline stewardess as well as Cheryl Ann.  I also want to see him get back together with Donna as well.  And because I am cheering for him I feel his pain as he struggles with accepting the separation of his parents and especially the difficulty in his relationship with his dad.  I believe that this is easily his best performance in the 1980’s which includes the movie Big and is a great indicator of his future success in the 1990’s and early 2000’s.

The other actor who was amazing in this film, and mind you I think all were great, was Jackie Gleason.  His portrayal of Max was amazing as he showed a man that is in some ways not a likeable man but in many ways a sympathetic man.  To me his character represented the ending of the single income household from the 40’s and 50’s in that the woman stayed home to raise the kids and the men worked.  That kind of man could still love his wife and family but have affairs and justify it.  He also made sure that he worked hard enough and long enough to make sure his family was never wanting for more.  He also was the kind of man who didn’t complain about illness and wasn’t likely to change either.  All of these traits were clashing with the men of the 1980’s who were a little bit more in touch with their feelings.  This dynamic plays out constantly in this movie with Max and David’s relationship.  Max never tells David he loves him, but David knows he does.  The amazing part of Jackie Gleason’s performance is that by this time in his life he was literally dying.  He was suffering from 4 different forms of cancer and was actually retired when director Garry Marshall asked him to come do this film.  He was able to get Gleason to do it because he told him if he didn’t then his last film would have been Smokey and the Bandit 3 and trust me that is not a good thing.

Eva Marie Saint did a nice job as David’s mother.  She had two great scenes when she tells David that she knew his father was cheating on her during their marriage and that everyone knew it and that she was embarrassed to admit it to him.  This was the catalyst for a bad confrontation between David and Max.  The other scene is when Max is in the hospital and she is there to initially check up on him and it devolves into yet another fight about their relationship and what he didn’t do.  The only thing she did that was annoying to me, and its small but it gets me every time I watch this film, is when she has cleaned her old apartment that she shared with Max and stocked it for him before he gets home from the hospital.  She gives David the keys and tells him she is never coming back.  She then turns and walks towards the door and gives both sides of the room a look and then shakes her head and walks out of the room forever.  The head shake is more of a good buy and good riddance shake and it just bothers me.  I get it, I know why she did it, but it still bothers me.

The entire supporting cast was great as well.  Loved Bess Armstrong as Donna Martin and am somewhat surprised that the only other big movie she was ever in was Jaws 3-D.  That is some kind of miscarriage of justice.  Sela Ward was also great as Cheryl Ann Wayne, the 80’s female power broker and a great counter to David’s borderline childish empowerment in the work force. The other main supporting cast that were noticeable were the airline owner Andrew Woolridge, played by Barry Corbin (Wargames,) the owner of the ad agency Charlie Gargis, played by Hector Elizondo (Pretty Woman,) and Roger the director, played by John  Kapelos (The Breakfast Club.)  Both Roger and Charlie play a part in helping David’s relationship with Max although in different ways.  Roger admits to David that he hasn’t spoken to his dad in years right after David talks about the huge fight he had with Max.  But the best part is when David just had blown up at Mr. Woolridge and was fired by Cheryl Wayne from the account and Charlie comes in to see how David is doing.  David has learned that Max has to go into surgery that he may not survive.  Charlie explains to David about his failings with dealing with his own fathers illness and how in the end Charlie’s father didn’t recognize him.  Both of these events pointed David into first saving his relationship with his dad and then staying with him during and after the surgery.  They were great small moments that lead to great big moments.

I can go on and on but its safe to say that I am a big fan of the film.  I am sure my love of the film blinds me from some of the negatives but I don’t care.  For me this film also hits home with the relationship I had with my father both the good and the bad times during my life.  I can say without a doubt that I wish I could have been there in the end but I can also say that I was glad that I had a great relationship with in the end and in that aspect have no regrets.  Which I think is the point of this story as well.

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sullyWhen I saw the trailer in this film I was surprised to see that there was some question as to how Captain Sullenberger cannot be viewed anything other than as a hero. So needless to say I was sure I wanted to see this film when it came out.  What I saw was a very good film by director Clint Eastwood and actor Tom Hanks who both somehow make a movie about an investigation into an airplane accident both compelling and interesting.

On January 15, 2009 US Airways Flight 1549 Captained by Chelsey “Sully” Sullenberger, played by Tom Hanks (Inferno,) suffered a bird strike in both engines and suffered power failure.   Being unable to fly to any area airport, Sully and his co-pilot Jeff Skiles, played by Aaron Eckhart (Battle: Los Angeles,) both guide the passenger jet into a controlled water landing on the Hudson River in New York City.  Even though the though there were no deaths and the landing considered a success and miracle in the public eye, both pilots are having to fight for their professional careers as the initial investigation by the NTSB suggests that the pilots could have made it back to the airport and therefore were at fault for the landing the plane in the Hudson.

The story is really interesting on a couple of different levels.  Right away you discover that Sully is going through PTSD as the opening scene shows a different ending to the plane flight when you see Flight 1549 fly right into a few buildings in midtown Manhattan.  We then see Sully looking out a window and you can see the look of a realization that maybe that should have happened as opposed to him saving the plane.  Tom Hanks, as usual, does a magnificent job of showing the emotion in these scenes and there are more than a few.  To me it seemed to coincide with the NTSB investigation that was trying to tell him that he had enough time to fly the plane back to the airport and he needlessly put these people in harm’s way.  It was also surprising how combative the NTSB investigation turned out to be if the portrayal in the film is close to being spot on.  In the movie it showed that the NTSB was definitely trying to pin the accident on the pilot.  They constantly kept referring to how the computer simulation showed the plane could have made it back to the original airport, La Guardia.  At the beginning of the investigation all Sully had was his belief and his experience flying the plane.  As the investigation went on you can see how the constant questions being asked of Sully was starting to erode Sully’s belief that he did the right thing.  I thought there was a great and touching scene where Sully made a phone call to his wife, Lorraine, played by Laura Linney (Man of the Year,) where he seriously doubted himself and his wife tried to reassure him but was also scarred and worried about him.  All these things added up to a gripping story that was really good because when you know the outcome of an event it can be hard to pay attention when the bulk of the “actions” are hearings and interviews.

As I said earlier, Hanks was magnificent in his role as Sully.  He was great showing the pain he was going through as he was constantly replaying the flight in his head and watching his plane crash.  As a whole I thought the rest of the cast did a fine job.  I liked how Aaron Eckhart, who played the co-pilot, was the counter to Sully in that he was much more confident that Sully did the right thing landing in the Hudson. Laura Linney had a small part in the film but she was very good as the worried wife and did have a great scene when she was talking to Sully on the phone realizing that the accident could have been much worse and that he was on that plane.  Up to that point she had wanted to know when he was coming home and wanting the publicity to end as the camera crews were outside their house beind somewhat selfish acting as if she was going through more issues than he was now that he was safe.  The realization that she could have lost him was cathartic.  The other actor I would like to point out is Mike O’Malley (Concussion) who plays the lead NTSB investigator Charles Porter.  Porter was the most aggressive of all of the investigators in trying to pin the crash on Sully.  The final scene with the public hearing was great in that you could see the pride that Porter had in proving Sully was at fault when the human simulation showed that Sully had the time to land at the airport.  And his pride quickly went to shame when he allowed for a second human simulation but with a 35 second delay in the pilots reaction.  The 35 second delay was asked by Sully because he pointed out that after the bird strike the pilots didn’t immediately think to fly back to the airport but to try and fix the problem first.  When Porter conceded to that and added the seconds, and neither human simulation made it to either airport possible, O’Malley was great in showing the shame that Porter must have had by doubting Sully.  O’Malley seems to be good at playing jerks because he was a big one in the movie Concussion.  Overall the film was very well acted.

Although it’s brief, I would like to mention how great a job Clint Eastwood did directing the film even though that doesn’t come as a big surprise.  His pacing of the film made it surprisingly suspenseful even though the bulk of the story revolved around the interviews and hearings of the accident as well as Sully trying to deal with it.  He also did a great thing, maybe it was the screenwriter as well, but we never got to see the full incident take place until the final act of the movie.  We were given bits and pieces but he saved the entire accident for when it would be most effective.  What made it even better was that before that as we were watching the film we were given different scenarios that all ended up horribly bad.  I told a friend of mine that if you are afraid of flying this movie could mess with you a little bit because of all of the realistic crashes into the city.  It was a fine film and he deserves as much as the credit as the actors, and the screen writer as well.

This is a wonderful film and is easily in my top ten films of 2016.  I can’t really find any fault with the film and it exceeding many of my lofty expectations for a film starring Tom Hanks and directed by Clint Eastwood.  If the movie is still playing in a theater near you I highly suggest you go and watch it because it belongs in the conversation of best films of 2016.

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mrsmithThose of you who know me know that even though I run the accounting department where I work, I actually have a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science. Since my movie cohort Benn Farrell and I decided to make October reviews theme Presidential movies in honor of this horrendous Presidential election, I decided my Classic Movie Review would be a movie that many of my High School teachers and college Professors of Political Science told me to see, Mr. Smith Goes To Washington.  I can see why a Political Science teacher would want someone to see this movie because even though it is extremely dated it does have some relative points to make even in today’s political landscape.

Jefferson Smith, played by Jimmy Stewart (It’s a Wonderful Life,) is the leader of a rural outdoor boys organization in a unnamed American state when he is appointed by the Governor to be one of the two US Senator of his state when the sitting Senator dies.  What Smith doesn’t know is that a local businessman named Jim Taylor, played by Edward Arnold (Meet John Doe,) has bribed the Governor and the other sitting Senator, Joseph Paine, played by Claude Rains (Casablanca,) to propose a bill in the US Senate that includes money to build a dam that is profitable to Taylor and Smith was sent to Washington to be an unknowing supporter of the bill by just doing what Paine tells him.  However, Paine, Taylor and the Governor weren’t planning for is Smith’s assistant Saunders, played by Jean Arthur (Shane,) who was the original Senators assistant, to fall for his innocence and his wholesome beliefs of what the country stands for, and tells Smith exactly what is going on.  When Smith tries to tell his fellow Senators what is going on, Paine turns on him and tries to get Smith kicked out of the Senate.  Smith must try to not only save his job but also convince the Senate that he is telling the truth and Paine is lying about the dam.

So my biggest problem with the movie is the story and the unnecessary…oh how do I say it…filmmaking choices by legendary director Frank Capra.  I’ll start by explaining the last half of the previous sentence.  When I mean filmmaking choices I mean the style that was in use during this time in that there is a scene in the film that is puts together a montage of location scenes to set the mood of the moment or the character of the individual or the theme of the movie.  In this movie we have a scene just like this.  The story sets up this scene earlier by showing our dear Mr. Smith at a rally where he shows how patriotic he is, how he believes in the purity of the Constitution, and his naivety at how this process works.   Later we see him arrive at a train station in Washington DC and his handler quickly loses him.  There is great consternation about where he has gone and what has happened to him.  Well never fear movie watchers as Frank Capra takes us on the journey with Mr. Smith.  What the viewer gets is about 3 minutes and 18 seconds I think (I wrote it down but lost the paper,) of a montage of Washington DC landmarks with a heavy emphasis on the Lincoln Memorial.  Wow.  Just Wow.  I know that this movie was made in 1939 and most of the country could not just get in the car and take the family on a trip to DC.  It was the depression after all.  But however long this montage is it is too much. I feel that this montage also tries to show how patriotic the film is supposed to be but I already get that feeling from the title of the movie and the first 15 minutes.  This is a minor issue but it leads into the biggest drawback of the movie which is the unfulfilling ending.  The ending, spoiler alert…as if you were going to watch this, has Mr. Smith going on a marathon filibuster in the Senate to keep the vote from happening on whether or not to kick him out of the Senate.   He is trying to convince the Senate that the bill that is to be voted on is a fraudulent one that needs to be stopped.  As Smith becomes fatigued he is able to finally get Senator Paine to admit that everything Smith has been saying is right.  The rest of the Senate has gotten out of their seats to charge at Paine who is acting crazy while Smith has passed out from exhaustion at this point.  Do we get to see what happens? Do we get to see Taylor crushed and arrested?  Do we see the aftermath of the confession and Paine sent away and Smith Vindicated?  Do we see get to see Saunders and Smith give each other that big Hollywood hug and kiss that happens at the end of these movies?  Nope.  Paine goes looney on the Senate floor, he is rushed, Smith is carried out with a smiling Saunders looking from above, fade to black, then end.  Now here is where my two issues combine.  Maybe, just maybe, if we had only a 30 second patriotic montage at the beginning, we can take those 2+ minutes and put them at the end of the film, to see what happens.  But no, let’s give us a 3 minute montage of DC and leave us wondering what happens at the end.  Don’t like it.

The acting is superb in the film with Stewart leading the way.  He has the deer in head lights look of innocence anyway so its not hard for him to be a naïve country boy in the big city.  But his big filibuster speech is pretty amazing.  He also works well with leading lady Jean Arthur who herself has a pretty funny scene where she is drunk off her ass in a bar.  However I will say that I just don’t buy that these two, Smith and Saunders, would fall in love with each other that fast.  But it’s Hollywood and we need a love story in our movies.

As much as I bagged on the story earlier above, it is also very good for a few reasons.  The writer, and maybe director, did a great job of keeping this political movie non-political.  What I mean by that is that we don’t know from what state Smith comes from.  We don’t know the political affiliations of the good or bad guys in the film.  If a remake of this movie is made today I would bet you my next 10 paychecks that the corrupted members were Republicans and the good and honest politicians were Democrats.  Hollywood has changed a lot in 80 years.  The reason that this movie is a timeless classic is the issues in this movie are not dated and could work today.  Oh sure the main story of the building of dam by a corrupt businessman would have to change but the story itself is what remains the same.  Change the dam with Benghazi or email servers or bankrupt hotels and you have yourself a movie take from today’s absolutely horrible headlines.  The only problem for this movie I see is that it would be very difficult to find a non-partisan naïve individual who just believes in the founding fathers and the Constitution to play the part of Smith in this day and age.  Most of one party wants to get rid of the damn thing (Progressives…I’m speaking to you.  Yes you.)  I also will say that despite the ending that I complain about, the story keeps me involved and I want to see how it ends.

I can see why my political science professors and teachers wanted me to see this film.  It is a good film on how the politics of this country, both good and bad, work.  If you decide to see this film realize that it is dated and most of it is shot in a style that is like putting a camera inside a playhouse and watching a theater production of Mr. Smith goes to Washington but that is just the era in which this movie is made.  I can say that this is the first Jimmy Stewart movie I have watched where he was the star and I can see why he is considered an amazing actor for his generation.  I need to see more of his films.

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murder1600As Benn Farrell movie review challenges go, this movie is easily in the top 5 better Benn Farrell movie review challenges.  Now that said, this is not a good movie but it isn’t so bad that I need to call Benn a tool or Douchebag or something like I normally would after watching his challenge.  That being said if you happen to see this on Netflix or Amazon Prime or Hulu, you don’t have to watch this movie unless there is nothing else on and you want to watch a poor Wesley Snipes film.

When a 25 year old female staff worker is found murdered in one of the white house bathrooms, Washington D.C. Detective Regis, played by Wesley Snipes (Expendables 3,) is assigned to try and solve the case despite the interference from almost everyone at the White House.  The one person who is trying to help is Secret Service Agent Nina Chance, played by the oddly hot for me Diane Lane (Man of Steel,) who seems to have important information at odd times.  Also helping not helping is National Security Advisor Jordan played by Alan Alda (Bridge of Spies,) Chief of White House Security Spikings, played by Daniel Benzali (A View to a Kill,) and the plethora of Secret Service agents all being led by Spikings.  Once Regis goes through the tedious process of discovering the ridiculous amounts of twists and turns he discovers the true reason for the murder and must race to the White House with Agent Chance to keep the President from resigning.

To start off on the reasons why I don’t like this movie I can start with casting.  I like Wesley Snipes and I can totally believe that he is a kickass detective.  What I can’t believe is that he is a son of a history teacher who not only studied all areas of Washington DC but faithfully recreated a diorama of not only Washington DC but the First Battle of Bull Run.  That just doesn’t work for Wesley Snipes.  Does it work Denzel Washington?  Absolutely.  But not Snipes.  Another person who is miscast is Diane Lane.  I think she is hot and she is smart but she is not athletic.  So her character, who is an Olympic Gold Medal winning marksman, doesn’t vibe with the thin but non athletic Lane.  It pains me to say this but as you watch her run and carry a gun you can tell that she isn’t athletic so for me it just doesn’t work.  IT was also weird to see Dennis Miller in a movie.  He of Saturday Night Live fame was a homicide detective and normally a partner to Regis.  His part was fairly small although he did successfully preform his red shirt duties of getting shot during the final acts action shoot out scene.  He does live to tell the tale though.  It’s not that he doesn’t belong but…it just was weird.

The story is both bad and good.  Good that it keeps me involved and I have to watch it to the very to see how its going to end but bad in that the story itself is somewhat ludicrous.  In what seems like a subplot to the movie, when this murder takes place at the White House, the US is involved with a confrontation with North Korea.  One of the US Nave surveillance planes flew over North Korean airspace and was shot down and the crew of the plane is being held hostage.  There is leaked footage of the US Airmen being tortured by the North Koreans.  Despite the fact that most Americans not to mention most of his staff want to go into North Korea and rescue the hostages, President Jack Neil, played by Ronny Cox (Beverly Hills Cop,) will not use any military action to get the hostages out.  This goes against the advice of NSA Jordan, his own Vice-President, and the Chairman of the Joint Chefs General Tulley, played by Harris Yulin (Clear and Present Danger.)  SPOILER ALERT: IF YOU PLAN ON SEEING THIS MOVIE AND WANT TO BE SURPRISED DON’T READ THIS NEXT SENTENCE. So NSA Jordan brings in someone to kill the young lady who is banging the President’s son.  He does this because he wants to blackmail President Neil into resigning so the Vice President can take over so they can attack the North Koreans to get the troops back.  So…yeah…that’s it.   There is also the problem that the plot goes from all things pointing to the son being guilty, then it becomes obvious that he isn’t guilty and Spikings is the main bad guy, but then he gets blown away and its determined that both Regis and Chance have no idea who it is but the magic video tapes can solve the mystery.  There are even more issues, including those security tapes, but I won’t bother talking about it.  You get the idea.  However, as the movie was rolling along I was intrigued to see the outcome of the movie because I was curious who was going to be the bad guy.  So, I give kudos for the writing to keep me interested enough in the movie to want me to get to the ending.  The ending just wasn’t good.

A thing that was odd about this film production is the trailer for the film.  I have it down below but if you watch you will see some of the worst dialogue for a movie you can imagine.  However, these God-awful lines and mini scenes do not show up in the movie.  So I wonder why on earth you would use these scenes to promote a film when they are nowhere near good enough to make the film.  It is really a strange choice because when I saw the trailer I was worried that Benn screwed me over by making me watch it but that wasn’t the case.  Really an odd choice by these people.

As a whole I would say pass on this movie if you see it on Netflix or wherever.  It is not a horrible movie but there are plenty of movies out there that are better.  As a rat bastard Benn Farrell movie review challenge goes it was decent to watch.  He isn’t a rat bastard for this challenge, only a minor douche.

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clearandpresentdangerThis movie is the third in the Tom Clancy based novels released in the late 80’s early 90’s and the second with Harrison Ford starring as main hero Jack Ryan.  Between this movie, the other Harrison Ford movie, Patriot Games, and the first one, The Hunt For Red October, Clear and Present Danger is the worst of the three movies but for this particular series that isn’t a bad thing.  This movie was fun and easy to follow and to watch.  In fact I seem to like it more now than when I watched it at the movie theater 20 years ago.  As much as I like this movie now the fact of the matter is that the thing I hated 20 years ago is still the thing I hate now, the ending blows.  Now that I am wiser I can say that I have a decent idea on how to end the film but it only would make the ending less sucky but not good.

In the third installment of Tom Clancy’s movies based around the character Jack Ryan, played by Harrison Ford (Star Wars,) Ryan has rejoined the CIA working for Deputy Director Admiral James Greer, played by James Earl Jones (Conan The Barbarian,) who has asked Ryan to investigate the murder of an American businessman on board a yacht in the Caribbean Sea.  Ryan discovers that the businessman is a close personal friend of President Bennett, played by Donald Moffat (The Thing,) and tells the President during a debriefing that his friend was laundering money for a Colombian Cartel.  Angry that his friend is murdered by the cartel, he unofficially authorizes his Chief of Staff James Cutter, played by Harris Yulin (Murder at 1600,) to have the CIA conduct a covert illegal paramilitary operation against the cartel.  Cutter asks the CIA Deputy Director of Operations Robert Ritter, played by Henry Czerny (Mission: Impossible,) to organize the operation and to also keep all information about the operation away from Ryan, who was promoted to Admiral Greer’s position as he is hospitalized with cancer.  As operations get underway under the leadership of former CIA agent John Clark, played by Willem Defoe (John Wick,) the Cartel leader Ernesto Escobar, played by Miguel Sandoval (Mrs. Winterbourne,) and his assistant Felix Cortez, played by Joaquim de Almeida (Behind Enemy Lines,) try to figure out who is involved.  When Cortez discovers that it is the US military he takes advantage of the situation to coerce Cutter to sacrifice the troops there and in exchange he will eliminate Escobar.

It’s funny every time that I saw the movie poster on Amazon Prime or Netflix I would frown because my memory of the movie is always negative.  I owned the VHS when I was younger but then I worked at the video store of the grocery store I worked it but then again I owned lots of movies because I got them cheap.  And yet I don’t know why I feel this way because when I started watching the film I was almost immediately engaged in the film.  The story jumps right into the meat of the plot in that the US President, angry over the death of his friend, wants to make the cartels pay for this action.  The writers do a great job of setting up the different levels of conflict between the multiple characters in the film and not just between the US and the cartels but also the conflict between Ritter and Ryan and how Ritter and Cutter try to keep Ryan from finding out about the military operation.  For 135 minutes the movie from a story point of view was great.  However, the movie is 141 minutes long, and the reason for the bad taste in my mouth when I think of this movie is the final five minutes.  As I have said I hate the ending of the movie.  See what happens is Ryan makes it back to the US from rescuing the remaining troops in Columbia and confronts the President about his actions and I was hoping for a smack down on him.  I wanted Ryan to leave that office with the President knowing that he was not only wrong but a broken man for what he did.  That didn’t happen.  It was a very tame and Ryan was very respectful in telling the President he was screwed.  It just left me sad.  Then we get to the part that really pisses me off.  I haven’t read the book but if the book ends the same why I would be pissed as well.  What happens in the movie is that after the non-confrontation confrontation with the President, the film goes to Ryan walking into a room full of press as he is about to give his testimony to the Congressional committee and after he takes the oath, Ryan sits down and the credits roll.  That is the end of the film.  For me that is a horrible way to end the film.  I know we know the story of what he is going to tell the committee but just having the credits roll just was just a killer of what had been an exciting movie.  It gave me the impression that everything the President had told Ryan during their confrontation (he said that Ryan would take the bulk of the blame and the rest of it would fall on Adm. Greer) was actually going to happen.  That pisses me off.  When I first saw this movie I had no idea how to end it without watching some testimony which would have taken to long.  What the director should have done is while the scene fades out to have it written out what happened after the meeting so at least we know.  But the movie fades to end credits and we don’t know what happens and that just ruins the rest of the movie.  As I write this I am actually getting upset that this ending ruins this movie.  Moving on.

As I said before I enjoyed the story up to the ending.  I am surprised by this because being a child of the 80’s and the Cold War my movie bad guys should always be those bastard Communists but in the early and mid 90’s our spy heroes were fighting drug cartels because the Communists bastards had lost the Cold War.  So I usually don’t enjoy movies where the bad guys are drug cartels.  But this movie works because even though the bad guy is the drug cartel it is more the President and his team running the illegal war.  The other thing that I liked about the story is that it kept me engaged even though you knew who the bad guys were and basically we were along for the ride that was watching Ryan figure out who is doing what to who and when.  To me it is impressive when you are watching a detective movie when you know the answer and you are left watching the good guy solve the puzzle and it is still entertaining.

The action was good as well even though I feel that his movie has the least amount of action of the three movies.  The best action scene in the movie is when the drug lord’s lieutenant sets a trap to kill Director of the FBI, who is visiting Bogata Colombia, while Ryan is there doing research.  The entire action see is very nice and very intense.  It’s funny in that I said the action was good but for the most part there isn’t a lot of action its’ just very intense for what little there is.  I will give this an asterisk however in that I would have like to see Ryan kill the Cortez because to me that is the rule that the main bad guy get killed by the good guy but he was busy escaping so the killing was left to one of the remaining soldiers.  I guess its ok that the soldier gets some revenge but it still breaks one of my rules but I can live with it.

clear-and-present-danger-henry-czerny

I can talk about how awesome Harrison Ford is but lets face it, he is Harrison Ford so he is always awesome.  But I enjoyed the entire cast and thought there were no real weaknesses in it.  I thought that of the rest Henry Czerny as Ritter was the best.  He does a good political/government guy in general be it good or bad.  To see a good version watch Mission: Impossible.  Also want to give a shout out to James Earl Jones because he was in this movie again and his death was sad for me because he is Darth Vader and that is sad when he dies.

I enjoyed this political thriller a lot but the ending just kills it for me.  This is an entertaining film and is very much worth watching if you haven’t seen if for nothing else other than watching the badass that is Harrison Ford.  As of the time of this review he is 74 years old and we need to start celebrating his greatness as time moves forward.  So please watch more of his movies.

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