Archive for the ‘Willem Defoe’ Category

murderOne of my big complaints when it comes to humans and movies that are based on books is that invariably most humans I know will say, “It isn’t as good as the book.”   I have many problems with this statement not the least of which is that it is impossible to turn a 400+ page book, or whatever sized book, into an enjoyable 2 hour movie.  The biggest example of this for me is I remember when the Lord of The Rings Trilogy was released I had people telling how much was left out.  But when they decided to turn The Hobbit into three movies, I heard bitching that there was barely enough material for two movies let alone three.  So my suggestion to you all who have read or enjoying reading books and then worry whether or not the movie will be just as good I say STOP.  Just enjoy the movie for what it is and keep it separate from whatever book it is based off of because chances are if you are still reading books you are going to it more than the movie.

Now I know what you are asking, “What does any of this have to do with your review of Murder on the Orient Express?”  Well my dear readers, all two of you, I mention this because I know that this movie is based on a book by the famous author Agatha Christie.  It is also a book I have never read so this was a blank slate for me.  What amazes me about this story is that it is entertaining but the ending left me with an almost overwhelming feeling of sadness.  Justice was served but it left me with an empty feeling and I just don’t know how to feel about that because I wasn’t expecting it.  But it doesn’t make it a bad, quite the contrary I did enjoy the film and hope that director/lead actor Kenneth Branagh does another of these films because I would definitely go to see another one.

World famous detective Hercule Poirot, played by Kenneth Branagh (Peter’s Friends) has found himself aboard the passenger train The Orient Express travelling from Istanbul to Paris with an eclectic group of fellow passengers.  The train runs in to issues in the mountains when an avalanche blocks the tracks and strands the train and its passengers for a few days until it can be cleared.  The morning after the avalanche one of the passengers is found murdered and Poirot is hired by the manager of the train to solve the murder before the train makes its next stop.

murder2The strength of the movie is the cast as almost all of them do an excellent job of portraying their characters.  I believe the best of the good group was Branagh as Poirot. For being a Brit he was able to pull off French quite well.  He also was quite entertaining bringing emotion to the character both with the humor in the beginning and the sadness /anger at the end of the film.  While Branagh set the pace of all the cast I felt the next closest was Josh Gad (Pixels) as Hector MacQueen who was the assistant to the murdered passenger and the first suspect.  I felt uncomfortable as he felt uncomfortable during his interrogation.  I also want to make special note to actress Daisy Ridley (Star Wars: The Force Awakens,) who is Mrs. Mary Debenham.  While her performance is fine but not spectacular there is something about her that I find oddly attractive.  I mean she is a lovely woman and she can definitely act but there is just something about her that just stokes the fire.  If I were to rank her in forms of sweets I like and Olivia Munn is my Easter Peeps, Daisy would be a DQ Reese’s peanut butter cup blizzard.  If there is one actor whose performance I can’t quite figure out if it was excellent or horrible it would surprisingly be Johnny Depp (Mortdecai.)  He plays an obviously crooked art dealer name Edward Ratchett.  Depp plays Ratchett in such a way that I actually hate him and I can’t tell if it’s an awesome performance played perfectly or he hated being in this film and it showed.  The reason I have for this is that at the beginning of the film he played his character just as sleazy and as horrible as any human could be which didn’t make sense to me not knowing the story.  But as the movie went along and followed the story it turns out that Ratchett is a horrible human so it made the performance brilliant…I think.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Depp is amazing and I believe his Jack Sparrow performance in Pirates of the Caribbean is tied for the best character performance in movie that I have seen (tied with Val Kilmer as Doc Holliday in Tombstone.)  The last performance I would like to mention is that of one of my crushes in the 80’s and early 90’s Michelle Pfeiffer (Hairspray.) While her performance as Caroline Hubbard was uninspiring it always makes me happy to see her.  I still have fond memories of her in Batman Returns in that Catwoman uniform and she is downright Goddess like in the movie Wolf. murder3

I know I wasted a bunch of paper earlier talking about not knowing the story of the book.  I decided to do the online Cliffnotes version i.e. Wikipedia and looked up the story of the book and it appears that the basic story of both match.  Which I must admit is interesting idea (If you haven’t figured it out I am purposely being vague as to not spoil the ending if you, like me, had not seen the 1974 film or read the book.)  I will say that the beginning seemed to be a little slow and it did appear somewhat obvious who was going to be murdered as we were introduced to the characters. That being said the mystery kept me interested and the ending was surprising and as I have already mentioned somewhat unhappy in the final result.

Despite the sadness of the ending of the movie I was moved by it and that is due to how Branagh shot the final scenes as well as the music put to it by Patrick Doyle, who is used in most if not all of Branagh’s movies.  The ending stuck with me as I walked out of the theater, in and out of the bathroom, and through the traffic on the way home.  As for the rest of the production I thought visually it was quite nice with lovely wide shots of Jerusalem and Istanbul in the beginning of the film which are greatly contrasted with the close quarters of the train and the choices Branagh made in showing the murder scene and other areas of the distressed train.

I do enjoy the film and like I said I hope we do see a follow up with Branagh as Poirot as the ending of the film has him leaving for Egypt for yet another murder.  This film has quite a few well-known actors that I did not talk about but not for nefarious reasons as their performances were fine.  The list includes but not limited to Penelope Cruz (Zoolander 2,) Willem Defoe (Clear and Present Danger,) and Judi Dench (Spectre.) If you like mysteries and are unfamiliar with the story I believe you will enjoy it and if you are familiar with it I hope you do.  With the many bad movies that are out there I do not believe you will be disappointed by this film.  Unless you are my friend Reed who doesn’t like any movie made after 1980 and thinks the 1974 version of this film is better without even seeing this one.  But he is a tool so don’t worry about him.


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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.


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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Oh my goodness. I haven’t had a non-fantasy/super hero action move make me want to have some special alone time in quite a while.  And I can’t remember a time I was this excited with a movie that starred surfer dude in it.  If you love good old fashioned non PC and not over the top action violence then John Wick is the movie for you.

John Wick, played by surfer dude Keanu Reeves (The Matrix,) appears to be your average guy suffering from the loss of his wife due to illness.  One of her last wishes was to leave him a little puppy for him to take care of as well as keep him from being alone.  The night after his trip into town where an obnoxious Russian kid notices his very nice car, that same kid and two of his friends break into John’s house, beat him up, and not only steal his car, but kill the little puppy.  What the Russian kid, Iosef Tarasov, played by Alfie Allen (Atonement,) doesn’t realized until too late, is that John was once an assassin that worked for his father and that by killing the puppy he killed Johns last link to his wife and his humanity.  John is about to embark on a reckoning with the intent on eliminating Iosef and his friends and anyone who stands in his way.

This movie is not very complicated and I like that.  In fact after the first 15 minutes of set up this movie moves at an incredibly quick pace and I was surprised that it seemed like it finished quickly.  It does not feel like a movie that lasts 1 hour and 41 minutes.  I like that there is no complicated back story as to why or how John Wick became an assassin or why the Russian kid is a d-bag.  They are what they are because they are what they are.  Simple.

I enjoyed that this violence wasn’t Tarantino over the top and that John Wick took some damage so he wasn’t Terminator like either.  Our hero didn’t miss much but he did miss but I like that the script or director or whomever decided that not only did he shoot someone but that when he got close to the person he shot he would then shoot them in the head to make sure he is down. It gave a sense of realism so he could move on knowing that the guy was down.  Also shows just how brutal of a killer he was.

If I was looking to complain about something, and I really shouldn’t because I love this movie from beginning to end, it would be that we didn’t get enough of the character Marcus played by Willem Defoe (Spider-Man.) He is or was a competing assassin who was friends with John Wick who was hired by the Russian father to kill Wick.  However he obvious is not going to do that and actually helps Wick get out of a few sticky situations.  I would have like to see him more because this is a movie made for his kind of badassness.  But I’m really nitpicking here because like I have said, there isn’t anything I dislike about the film.

Lastly I will say that an absolutely drop dead gorgeous woman I have been hanging out with introduced me to this film.  I just wanted to point out that I am hanging out with a drop dead gorgeous woman who knows awesome action movies.  And she likes football.  It’s about time I get some wins on the scorecard.  See this movie!

(FYI this scene has bad language.)

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This is another interesting offering from the people who brought you “The Royal Tenenbaums.” “The Life Aquatic” is about a Jacques Cousteau type oceanographer trying to recapture the glory days which made him so famous. The movie is funny and touching. However, if you do not like Wes Anderson movies, you should probably steer clear of this one.

Steve Zissou, played by Bill Murray (Lost in Translation), makes documentaries on his exploration in the deep sea. However, his most recent projects have been flops, and his money as well as producers are starting to run low. His most recent documentary is split into two parts, because he thinks his partner is eaten by the dreaded Jaguar Shark.

While at the premier party, his son–maybe, Ned Plimpton, played by Owen Wilson (Starsky & Hutch), visits him and joins the Life Aquaticteam. Zissou, with his son, now must fight pirates, his wife Eleanor, played by Anjelica Houston (Royal Tenenbaums), and a newspaper reporter whom he has a crush on but at the same time doesn’t trust named Jane Winslett, played by Cate Blanchett (Lord of the Rings trilogy).

In its most simple form, this movie can best be described as a British comedy, very dry humor. However, it does go into greater detail about the lack of a farther-son relationship between Steve and Ned. Ned, of course, falls in love with Jane, creating tension between father and son. The larger story shows the total lack of confidence Steve Zissou has with life outside the ocean, and now between the loss of his friend and his failures, he begins to show his lack of confidence with the ocean.

Director Wes Anderson (Rushmore, Bottle Rockets) must have some issues with his father or conversely none at all, because both this movie and “The Royal Tenenbaums” stories are based on questionable father figures. I found this movie to be quite entertaining, and maybe just a bit too long. There was a part about ocean pirates which didn’t make sense, providing conflict between Steve and his crew. Maybe the sequence could have been done another way, but I didn’t find it too distracting. I also dont know why all of the animals in the movie are fake except for the Killer Whale; doesn’t make sense.

I hope Bill Murray gets another nod for an Academy Award® nomination. I felt he did an outstanding job playing a difficult character. Owen Wilson is also good in this type of movie, since this style of humor is made for him. I will ask Wes Anderson not cast Anjelica Houston for a while. She looks too much like her father, and sometimes I can’t get past that. However, she is a fine actress.

I will sum up by saying, again, this movie is not going to be for everyone just because of the style Anderson has in filming and writing. My own personal fear is I am beginning to tire of this style myself, and because of it, I may not like his next offering. I may be jumping ahead of myself. If you haven’t seen a Wes Anderson movie, go ahead and watch this one. You just might enjoy it.


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Its movies like these that make me second guess my desire to have a movie review website and Podcast. In a world of movies with no purpose and reason to be made, American Dreamz takes the lead. If the producer’s goal was to be insulting to the audience, then congratulations you achieved it, because you certainly could not have expected a good movie from the script.

American Dreamz is about an American Idol rip-off TV show called American Dreamz where people from all across the land compete to become the star. The sanctimonious, pompous ass, star of the show Martin Tweed, played by Hugh Grant (Love Actually) is looking for something fresh to invigorate the show. So he tells his people to go out and find an Arab to be on the show. Enter Omer, played by Sam Golzari, who is in a terrorist training camp because his mother is killed in Iraq. However, he is not the typical terrorist because he is inept in every way and he likes Broadway Show tunes. So the leader sends him to America to get them out of their hair. Omer ends up on the show. Also on the show is a “home town” girl, Sally Kendoo, played by Mandy Moore (Chasing Liberty) who is anything but home town and will do anything to get on the show. Added to this is President Stanton, an obvious President Bush imitation, played by Dennis Quaid (The Day After Tomorrow) who is tired after his re-election win and goes into hiding, while his Chief of staff, a Dick Cheney rip off, played by Willem Defoe (Spider Man) is worried that the President is ruining his image so he tells the President to be a guest judge on American Dreamz which then forces Omer to try and assassinate the President on the orders from his leader, which Omer may not want to do.

Doesn’t that story sound like a bad idea? Producers should really look at scripts and realize that even if there is a good idea on the pages, making fun of American Idol, it does not need to be made if the story itself sucks d*ck! I really hate stories that show people acting like a**holes and there is no consequences to their actions. American Dreamz is all about people being evil and being rewarded for it and people trying to be good and being punished for it. This movie insults the President of the United States (no surprise), the military, small town men, hell, small town people in general, Middle Easterners and the movie going audience. Writer/Director Paul Weitz has done some good work in the past, but clearly this was written when he was still basking in the glow of his Academy Award ® nomination and not thinking clearly.

The only good thing to come from this movie is the actor Sam Golzari. He is the lone actor to try and attempt to create something from nothing when it comes to character development. I actually saw a character struggling with the choices he needed to make and the value of them. This is Golzari’s first movie and I hope to see more of him.

I shall not speak of the rest of the cast because I am guessing that they were lured for the money and then discovered how crappy it really was but had to stay because they signed a contract. Except for Mandy Moore where I am going to guess she was doing her best Britney Spears impersonation and she didn’t do a bad job, unless she was typecast and then Mandy Moore is an evil woman.

I would tell you all to skip this movie, but judging from the box office results, you already decided too. Smart choice!

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