THE FILM YAP » susan sarandon http://www.thefilmyap.com We Never Shut Up About Movies Fri, 21 Nov 2014 19:48:10 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.0.1 The Last of Robin Hood http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/09/03/the-last-of-robin-hood/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/09/03/the-last-of-robin-hood/#comments Wed, 03 Sep 2014 04:37:43 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=47375 Continue reading ]]> The Last of Robin Hood - inside

More than 20 years ago Kevin Kline had a lovely performance in “Chaplin” as an aging movie star playing out his last hand as a wastrel playboy. He was so good as Douglas Fairbanks that when it came time to cast someone as Errol Flynn in his declining years for “The Last of Robin Hood,” Kline seemed an obvious choice.

He terrifically captures Flynn’s fizzy, rakish persona, which showed little difference between his on-screen swashbuckling and his off-screen adventures. (Flynn chronicled them himself in his posthumous autobiography, “My Wicked, Wicked Ways.”) He spent so much time carousing, drinking and drugging, seducing young girls, sailing on his yacht and otherwise dribbling out his days, it’s hard to believe he found time to make movies.

Done up with Flynn’s signature pencil mustache and cravat-and-evening-jacket outfit, tumbler of booze perpetually in hand, Kevin makes for a pretty spot-on physical impersonation, too.

(Normally I would feel compelled to point out that, at nearly age 67, Kline is rather too old to play Flynn, who died at 50. But Flynn’s hard-charging lifestyle aged him prematurely. And Kline, in several shirtless outings, flaunts a surprisingly athletic figure that helps the age concerns vanish.)

“Robin Hood” takes its title from perhaps Flynn’s most famous role, but focuses on the last two years of his life when his star had fallen and he worked only itinerantly. He notices a young starlet, Beverly Aadland (Dakota Fanning), and in the classic Hollywood seduction method, sends a flunky to fetch her.

Their initial coupling is, to say the least, brief. Not surprising, considering this is a man who was charged with statutory rape in 1942 (and acquitted) and bedded so many ladies they coined the phrase “In like Flynn.”

But a couple of factors work to sustain the relationship beyond a one-night stand. First is Flynn’s profound self-awareness, including the thought that that his ability to attract women is rapidly waning, and he’d rather not be left alone at the end of the party. The other is a certain Machiavellian aspect to Beverly: the sense that she’s using him as much as he is her.

This is honed and encouraged by her mother, Florence (Susan Sarandon), a showbiz mom who pushes her daughter to sing, dance and act her way to easy street. In Beverly’s case, the talent is not an even match with the ambition, so when Flynn turns up offering to “help” the girl’s career, Florence offers a few perfunctory objections before signing on.

Of course, there’s more revelry than actual opportunity. At one point Errol and Beverly disappear for five months to Africa, and in the finished film she only has one line of dialogue. But the pair seem to be a genuinely affectionate couple, with Florence often tagging along as chaperone.

At some point I should mention that Beverly is only 15 when she and Flynn start dating, and just 17 when he dies. This comes as a shock to him when he finally learns it, though not so much to quit the affair. Obviously, this information puts the entire dynamic of the relationship in a different, disturbing light.

Writing/directing duo Richard Glatzer and Wash Westmoreland tell the story from a flashback perspective, with Florence narrating her side of events to a book author after Flynn has passed and a media firestorm erupts over his teenage damsel. Sarandon paints a picture of a profoundly deluded woman, who gave up her own dreams of stardom to push her kid to unwholesome lengths.

If the movie has a weakness, it’s that Flynn and Florence are vivid, engaging characters and Beverly remains something of a cipher. Fanning does what she can with the material, but the script doesn’t lend her a lot of opportunities to reveal the character’s interior architecture.

But “The Last of Robin Hood” is worthwhile, if for no other reason to see Kline scamp and strut as the iconic bad boy. “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend,” goes the classic Hollywood line — one that could’ve been written about Errol Flynn.

4 Yaps

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Tammy http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/07/02/tammy/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2014/07/02/tammy/#comments Wed, 02 Jul 2014 04:53:51 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=45936 Continue reading ]]> Tammy - inside

McCarthy Does Mumblecore.

That’s my three-word review of Melissa McCarthy’s new comedy “Tammy,” an oft-turgid wallow in sentiment and icky embarrassing humor. It’s still got some genuine laughs, and is buoyed by McCarthy’s winning screen presence. It’s not a long movie at 96 minutes, yet you could easily chop a half-hour out of it and have a winner.

Mumblecore, for those not into zero-budget indie films, is epitomized by rambling dialogue that has the appearance of being ad-libbed. Its influence on mainstream comedy is clear to see, though usually it’s punky young guys — think Jonah Hill or Michael Cera — with the verbal diarrhea.

After an impressive string of hits, including “The Heat” and “Identity Thief,” McCarthy is currently sitting in the unlikely catbird’s seat as Hollywood’s most consistently bankable star over the last few years. She’s running the show on her projects, and has decided to team up with her husband Ben Falcone, who co-wrote the screenplay with her and makes his directing debut.

He frequently turns up in her movies as her beau, though here he just has a bit part as the jerk boss at the Topper Jack’s burger joint where she works.

The result of their collaboration is a raunchy road trip comedy starring McCarthy and Susan Sarandon as her grandmother. They have some fairly predictable misadventures, some romantic hook-ups, binge drinking and petty larceny.

In the end, we all Learn Something — in this case, that McCarthy had better find some new material if she wants to keep her streak alive.

The story starts off with an epic bad day for Tammy. Living in tiny Murphysboro, Ill., she crashes her ancient Corolla into a deer on the way to work, then gets fired for being late. Arriving home unexpectedly early, she’s surprised to find her husband (Nat Faxon) serving an elegant dinner to his mistress (Toni Collette). Tammy promptly packs her stuff and decamps to her parents’ place, two doors down.

“You never cooked me dinner!” she shrieks. “And it smells good, too!”

But her mom, played by Allison Janney, is something of a pill. Tammy’s grandmother, Pearl (Sarandon), lives with her but has had enough, so the pair take off for an impromptu jaunt for parts unknown with $6,700 of grandma’s cash as their stake.

It’s sort of a Thelma & Louise thing, with a cross-generational twist.

The ages of the actresses don’t exactly sync up, with less than a quarter-century dividing them all — McCarthy is only 11 years younger than Janney, who in turn is only 13 years Sarandon’s junior. It is rather strange to see Sarandon, whose potent sexual presence has lit up screens for four decades, doing the cranky oldster routine complete with puffy feet from diabetes.

The running joke is that Tammy is the hard-partying cutup of the family, but Granny Pearl is at least her equal despite her prim outward appearance. She’s a nasty drunk, supplies teenagers with beer and boasts of having been an Allman Brothers groupie.

Kathy Bates and Sandra Oh turn up late in the game as wealthy lesbian friends of Pearl’s, who help them out when they’re on the lam from the law. Bates lights up her scenes, feisty yet down-to-earth, and has one emotional crescendo that feels like it belongs in another movie.

Actually, most of “Tammy” feels like it belongs in another flick. McCarthy may be all that as a screen comedienne, but she and her hubby needed to run their screenplay through the spin cycle a few more times.

3 Yaps

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Snitch http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/06/10/snitch-2/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/06/10/snitch-2/#comments Mon, 10 Jun 2013 20:38:59 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=39784 Continue reading ]]> snitch - interior

Part crime-drama and part action romp, “Snitch” is a forgettable story of vigilante justice that fails to follow through with its overarching sociopolitical leanings.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson plays the lead of John Matthews, the owner of a construction company whose son is sentenced to 10 years in prison for possession of narcotics with intent to distribute. In a desperate attempt to greatly reduce his son’s prison sentence, John comes up with a harebrained scheme to go undercover and incriminate local drug kingpins in exchange for his son’s freedom.

By doing so John must plead his case to Joanne Keeghan, the local U.S. District Attorney, played by Susan Sarandon, who has a hardline stance on the mandatory minimum laws. Risking both her career and the life of a complete stranger, Keeghan agrees to help John by reducing his son’s sentence on the condition that he informs on a local drug dealer — and with that, all vestiges of reality are thoroughly abandoned.

The Rock recruits a low-level employee of his, Daniel James (Jon Bernthal), an ex-con with connections to the drug syndicate. With Daniel’s help, John meets a local kingpin named Malik who believes John wants to work as a drug mule in order to save his struggling business. It is through Malik that John and Daniel eventually catch the eye of a Mexican drug cartel leader named Juan Carlos Pintera. As Keeghan shifts her interest on going after Pintera due to his high profile in the drug community, she gives John the runaround.

The movie just continues to crumble in on itself as John is eventually found out to be a rat, a plot twist highlighted by a lackluster car chase. In the grand scheme of things, it’s actually the only action to be found in the movie, which means The Rock’s chiseled stature virtually goes to waste. Luckily, Dwayne Johnson has evolved into a solid leading man who has outgrown his wrestling moniker. Unfortunately, “Snitch” is simply not the vessel in which his acting talents are meant to shine through.

At times “Snitch” even resembles a B-movie, especially during scenes where John visits his tear-filled son in prison. For a movie striving to offer legitimate social commentary, a lot of the discussion in regard to mandatory minimum sentences gets muddled amid the ridiculous nature of the plot. By the end, when The Rock is running cartel members off the interstate in a semi, nearly all thoughts of flaws in our judicial system are all but forgotten. If you’re expecting an action thriller, look elsewhere. But if a predictable crime drama is more your speed, “Snitch” has everything you’re looking for.

The Blu-ray release is about what you’d expect from such a movie. Extras feature a director commentary from Ric Roman Waugh and editor Jonathan Chibnall, deleted scenes and a making-of featurette.

Film: 2.5 Yaps
Extras: 2.5 Yaps

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Snitch http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/02/21/snitch/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2013/02/21/snitch/#comments Thu, 21 Feb 2013 05:55:28 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=38316 Continue reading ]]> Snitch - inside

“I just wanna see The Rock be The Rock.”

Thus spaketh my neighbor a couple of seats over at the screening of “Snitch,” where she and her companion commented — loudly and frequently — upon their views of the new movie starring Dwayne Johnson, formerly known as professional wrestler The Rock.

I don’t know where these amateur Eberts came from or how they came to be sitting in the press row, but I think she was actually speaking for a lot of people who won’t like this movie. Specifically, those who think Johnson and people who look like him should only make big, dumb action movies in which they deliver a quip after blowing some guy away.

You see, “Snitch” is not that sort of the film. It stars Dwayne Johnson, not The Rock, and features Johnson straining to reach for something higher and more honest as an actor … and succeeding.

It’s a gritty drama, not an action movie, and Johnson is playing a regular guy instead of a Superman. When somebody points a gun in his face, he’s frozen with terror. While the villains strut and sneer, he cowers and quakes.

Johnson never takes off his shirt, intimidates anyone with his size, and about the only thing he says in anger is to holler at his wife, “Are the sprinklers on?!?”

The film, ably directed by Ric Roman Waugh from a screenplay he co-wrote with Justin Haythe, is based on a true story that was featured on a PBS documentary. It’s about a father who will go to any ends to help his son, including breaking the law and putting the rest of his family at risk.

John Matthews is a successful Missouri businessman in the construction/trucking industry. He lives in a big house, has a beautiful wife and daughter, and seems to have few worries. But then his teenage son from a previous marriage, Jason (Rafi Gavron), gets busted for distribution of Ecstasy.

The kid’s not a drug dealer, just a sap who got rolled by his friend. But the federal prosecutor (Susan Sarandon) says she’s bound by minimum-sentence laws that could put John’s son away until AARP age. She’ll only reduce his prison term if Jason snitches on another drug pusher, which he refuses to do.

So John takes it upon himself to bring down a big-time dealer on his own. His first effort ends in disaster, but he gets craftier. He recruits one of his employees, Daniel (Jon Bernthal), who did time for drugs, offering $10,000 to make an introduction to some of his old contacts.

This leads to an increasingly dangerous climb up the ladder of the narcotics chain of command, from local kingpin Malik (a sly, charismatic Michael Kenneth Williams) to Mexican cartel boss (Benjamin Bratt).

Intending it to be a one-and-down deal, John finds himself cornered between the drug lords on the one hand and the politically ambitious prosecutor on the other. Meanwhile, Daniel suspects his motives, Malik starts dropping by John’s house to terrorize his family, and even the undercover cop (Barry Pepper) handling the case drops hints that maybe he’s in too deep.

Johnson does eventually get to do some Rock-ish things toward the end, but he does so in duress rather than out of any sense of righteous rage. These perilous scenes are all the more convincing because his character is ordinary and exposed.

In her own way and without really intending to do so, my loudmouthed, erstwhile fellow critic has delivered a much more brilliant review of “Snitch” than I ever could. For someone like her, this movie could only a letdown, which should be a hint for the rest of us.

4 Yaps

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Cloud Atlas http://www.thefilmyap.com/2012/10/25/cloud-atlas/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2012/10/25/cloud-atlas/#comments Thu, 25 Oct 2012 13:34:59 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=36267 Continue reading ]]>

Having not read the novel by David Mitchell, my guess is that “Cloud Atlas” is one of those books that was considered untranslatable to the big screen. The Wachowski siblings, the creative team behind the “Matrix” films, and their writing/directing partner Tom Tykwer, have accomplished about as successful an adaptation as could be hoped.

It’s a sprawling, ambitious, troubling, occasionally glorious and often vexing film. A hair under three hours long, it links dozens of characters across a multitude of time settings, with the same set of actors playing multiple parts. These stories do not unfold in temporal sequence but instead cut back and forth with no transition for the audience. The abruptness is intentional.

So, one moment you can be watching Tom Hanks playing Zachry, a suspicious but good-hearted hunter in a post-apocalyptic primitive society hundreds of years into the future, and in a blink, he has become Dr. Henry Goose, a nefarious physician/charlatan in the Pacific Islands circa 1849.

The theme here is that these actors are not simply inhabiting different roles but represent different incarnations of the same eternal soul replicated over and over again throughout the eons, facing much the same challenges in each reincarnation.

For instance, Hanks’ character(s) struggle with summoning the courage to do the moral thing. For Dr. Goose, that battle was obviously lost some time ago. For Zachry, it’s an ongoing struggle, with the forces of suspicion and hatred represented by Old Georgie, a devil in a top hat who whispers vile thoughts into his ear.

Zachry’s time era is probably the most critical, acting as a framing device for the other stories. Sometimes we see the same person decades apart in their lives, but for the most part it is new incarnations each time around.

In Zachry’s time, he is suspicious of Meronym (Halle Berry), a representative of a more technologically advanced alien culture or possibly the remnants of humanity that survived the “Big Fall” of mankind. Meronym and other people of her ilk seem to have electronic devices implanted under the surface of their skin, while Zachry and his people have extensive facial tattoos.

Meronym has ingratiated herself into the people of the valley’s tiny community, where they struggle to survive against wretched tribes of cannibals who raid from time to time. Meronym says she’s there to help and indeed heeds Zachry’s plea to save the life of his niece, but it’s clear she’s there with an unspoken mission.

Other significant settings are the Pacific Islands in the mid-19th century, Cambridge of 1936, 1973 San Francisco, modern-day London, and Korea somewhere in the 23rd century.

Jim Broadbent plays Timothy Cavendish, an itinerant publisher who hits the big time when his thuggish author executes the dream of what every writer wants to do to a critic, becoming a celebrity in the process. But money troubles and a hateful big brother leave him incarcerated in a mental hospital, which builds up to a septuagenarian version of “The Great Escape.”

Ben Whishaw is Robert Frobisher, a brilliant but poor musical genius who takes on a position as assistant to a once great but now forlorn composer. Jim Sturgess plays Adam Ewing, a young man making a highly profitable business trip for his slavemaster father-in-law who encounters the unexpected friendship of a runaway slave (David Gyasi).

In 1973, Halle Berry plays Luisa Rey, a crusading young journalist who uncovers a nefarious plot at a Three Mile Island-ish nuclear facility, and finds her life in peril.

Perhaps the most evocative setting is Neo Seoul of the future, a nightmarish landscape that seems to combine the worst societal elements of “Blade Runner” and “The Matrix.” Here, Doona Bae plays Sonmi-451, a “fabricant” — aka synthetically created human slave — who serves as a waitress in a trendy restaurant. One day, she’s liberated by a leader of the rebellion against this totalitarian society and finds herself becoming the image and voice of a movement (and later, in Zachry’s time, something much more).

“Our lives are not our own,” Somni intones, underscoring the film’s message. “From womb to tomb, we are bound to others, past and present. And by each crime and each kindness, we build our future.”

I will say that time does not drag while watching “Cloud Atlas.” I looked at my watch exactly once and was astonished to see that 2½ hours had already gone by.

But the various actors each playing three, four, five or more roles ended up being distracting, especially as I attempted each time to puzzle out who was who under the heavy layers of prosthetic makeup. I found that the mental energy I expended in this exercise left me unable at time to get emotionally engaged in the characters’ plight.

I also admit to being uncomfortable with some of the transformations. At various times, Caucasian actors are made up to look Asian, Asians as Caucasians, and African-Americans as whites or Asians or Latinos, and none of it very convincing. I did note that at no time was a non-African-American actor made up to look black. Consciously avoiding that risk of an unpalatable accusation of blackface only serves to make the other cross-racial portrayals seem even more squeamish.

“Cloud Atlas” is a bedazzling cinematic experience, though one that will no doubt leave some audience members confused and frustrated. For me, there was enough enchantment to overcome the head-scratching.

4 Yaps

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home http://www.thefilmyap.com/2012/06/20/jeff-who-lives-at-home-2/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2012/06/20/jeff-who-lives-at-home-2/#comments Thu, 21 Jun 2012 02:40:58 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=32927 Continue reading ]]>

There are very few movies that have made me tear up upon the rolling credits: “Up,” “The Green Mile,” “Remember the Titans” and now “Jeff, Who Lives at Home.” This film is a heartwarming film that will tug at your heartstrings and then make you stand up and cheer.

For Jeff — played brilliantly by Jason Segel — it’s a day like any other; sitting around his mother’s basement watching infomercials and smoking pot. Slowly but surely, Jeff witnesses signs from the universe and sets out for the adventure that was meant for him. As Jeff gets deeper into his journey, he runs into his estranged brother, Pat (Ed Helms), and the two discover that every moment in our lives happens for a very specific reason.

I want to do nothing more than applaud everyone that was involved with this film. I don’t know what it was about this film, but it was so real, that I could connect with it on so many levels. Jay and Mark Duplass have constructed such a simple tale and such vibrant characters, from Jeff’s monologue about the universal significance of M. Night Shyamalan’s “Signs” to Pat and Jeff having a heart to heart while sitting in a bathtub. Jay and Mark are a great filmmaking duo, and I can’t wait to see more from them.

The real reason for these characters’ warmth and validity was due to powerful performances by Segel and Helms. I’m a huge fan of both of these actors and I was stoked to see them have the chance to flex those dramatic muscles.

What I think I liked the most was that Helms got a chance to play a different character. He always seems to play the overly nice guy, but here he gets to play someone in need of redemption. He’s completely lost sight of what’s important in life, but underneath he wants to find his way. My favorite scene is when Pat and Jeff are at their father’s grave and talk about a mutual dream. Their sweet moment turns into a juvenile fight because Pat has to make fun of Jeff.

I’m not really sure what to say about Segel beyond the fact that he was so endearing in his performance. His character was so innocent and trusting that it was heartbreaking to see his family push him away. My favorite scene with him is when he hitches a ride on the back of a delivery truck. He tries so hard to inconspicuously follow the delivery driver, but Segel’s size makes it comical. Segel is such tremendous talent, and I’ve never been disappointed by his films.

“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is a beautiful movie and one of my new favorites. Seeing it in 1080p makes it all that more beautiful. I think that this movie is one that deserves multiple viewings, and I have a feeling it is meant to be in everyone’s movie collection.

While I would’ve liked to have some behind the scenes featurettes, sadly there are no features in sight. I guess they just weren’t meant to be.

Film: 4.5 Yaps
Extras: N/A

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Jeff, Who Lives at Home http://www.thefilmyap.com/2012/03/18/jeff-who-lives-at-home/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2012/03/18/jeff-who-lives-at-home/#comments Sun, 18 Mar 2012 04:55:11 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=30915 Continue reading ]]>

Understated comedies just so happen to be my favorite brand of humor. Unfortunately, due to the nature of these films, they are oftentimes hit or miss. “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” did not meet my expectations, but I ended up enjoying it nonetheless. Surprisingly, the film is best enjoyed as a coming-of-age drama rather than a comedy.

If I were to best describe the movie, I would say it’s a dark comedy wrapped up inside a family drama. Jason Segel plays the title character, a stoner who lives with his mother, Sharon (Susan Sarandon). Jeff holds a unique perspective on life and destiny, one that leaves him misunderstood by his family — especially his older brother, Pat (Ed Helms). Pat is more career-driven and focuses importance on material possessions. They are at odds until they are brought together under the pretense of Pat’s crumbling marriage to Linda (Judy Greer). When they see Linda having lunch with another man, Pat and Jeff take it upon themselves to follow her and find out for sure what’s going on. Along the way, the pair experiences a series of life-changing events that brings them closer than they ever thought possible.

Their clash is the film’s main source of humor — Jeff believing firmly in the power of predestination while Pat holds a far more self-centered nature. Their sibling rivalry is genuinely funny, but again, it’s not that type of movie. I foresee this plot surprising some people.

Meanwhile, Sharon is entering a sort of midlife crisis and is at her wits’ end with Jeff slumming around the house. Her role counterbalances the chaotic nature of the two sons rather nicely. The subplot of her trying to fall in love again brings a much needed sense of warmth and endearment to the film.

The movie deals with adult issues such as divorce, losing loved ones and finding your place in this world from a philosophical perspective rather than a comedic one. The second half of the movie, in particular, takes a concerted, serious turn as the family is brought together under peculiar circumstances. That’s not to say that “Jeff, Who Lives at Home” is a bad film. It’s well put-together, but I wouldn’t go into it expecting a laugh riot. The misleading nature of the trailers make it out to be a stoner comedy, when in fact it’s more Wes Anderson than Judd Apatow.

Part of what makes understated comedies so great is the relatable nature of the jokes. The bickering between Jeff and Pat personally reminded me of the relationship I have with my brother. It’s the type of movie that will leave you with a greater appreciation for the ones closest to you. The journey from beginning to end sputters at times as the comedic relief comes in waves, yet that sort of staggered pacing is the perfect representation of the chaotic relationships exhibited in the movie. The climax of the film in particular is a perfect culmination of all the awkward tension that precedes it. When left to their own devices the brothers cling to what they are most familiar with … family.

“Jeff, Who Lives at Home” may not be the laugh riot you were hoping for, but you’ll walk away feeling soulfully satisfied.

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When stars get old http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/11/10/when-stars-get-old/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/11/10/when-stars-get-old/#comments Wed, 10 Nov 2010 05:41:47 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=16973 Continue reading ]]>

In this week’s show, Joe and Chris yap about Harrison Ford and other big stars whose careers go through big changes as they get older. Some actors, like Audrey Hepburn, hang it up while they’re still rather young, while others find themselves more or less forcibly retired. We also talk about today’s big stars like Will Smith and Tom Cruise, and prognosticate about the future of their acting careers.

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You Don’t Know Jack http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/10/26/you-dont-know-jack/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/10/26/you-dont-know-jack/#comments Tue, 26 Oct 2010 12:53:05 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=16374 Continue reading ]]>

With a title like You Don’t Know Jack implies this film shall expose a new truth about Jack Kevorkian. His name is basically a punchline today because things have settled down a bit since he was in practice. With this new HBO TV movie, the debate can begin again.

Al Pacino plays Kevorkian, a match that fits so well it’s almost not even fair to anyone else who wanted the part. This is not a biopic. The film begins with him deciding to take his assisted suicide belief to practice. He wants to make his mark on the medical scene.

Kevorkian believes that it is inhumane to have people suffer through agonizing terminal diseases. He believes that if they want to die and are of rational mind, they should be allowed to have that wish granted by a medical physician. Now the film is not preaching this belief, but it is letting Kevorkian make his case.

Unlike other movies that follow a character with a point of view Jack wisely allows there to be plenty of gray area in all directions. The legal opposition is a bit faceless, but at least they have rational points. The film never feels preachy because their portrayal of Kevorkian is warts and all.

Boy does he have warts. He is very arrogant and difficult to control at times. He makes plenty of poor decisions that have serious ramifications legally and personally. The whole journey is so fascinating because of the strength of Adam Mazer’s script. Everything moves at a natural pace without feeling the pressure to include every piece of research that would make this feel like a textbook.

Barry Levinson was in the director’s chair and returned to high form. This is his best film since 1997’s Wag the Dog. Everything is so well crafted while having this dark overtone to the entire thing. Some of the suicides are just heartbreaking and nothing is ever played for melodrama.

HBO has created a standard of making these TV movies that rival most of the Oscar nominated films of any given year. It still hasn’t raised the prestige of an Emmy, but it has changed the Hollywood interest in these projects. It’s no longer just the epic miniseries like John Adams or The Pacific that are gaining interest in big names, but now these smaller films. Not only does this film have fantastic work by Pacino and Levinson, but John Goodman, Susan Sarandon, and Danny Huston. This movie could have easily played in theatres and been a success.

The DVD is pretty bare aside from a 10-minute featurette where they talk about the real Kevorkian and his unique personality. It’s fun to see Pacino examine him as a person and then cut to the actual Kevorkian, who was speaking a lot like the eccentric man in the movie. In fact all of the cast were rather blunt about Kevorkian, especially his disturbing paintings. I wish it was a longer feature but I’m sure this was played between movies on HBO for months. Still, there could have been more on the DVD.

Film: 4.5 Yaps

Extras: 2 Yaps

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Heroes of the Zeroes: Team America: World Police http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/10/23/team-america-world-police/ http://www.thefilmyap.com/2010/10/23/team-america-world-police/#comments Sat, 23 Oct 2010 04:01:37 +0000 http://www.thefilmyap.com/?p=15442 Continue reading ]]> Heroes of the Zeroes is Nick Rogers’ daily, alphabetical look back at the 365 best films of 2000-2009.

“Team America: World Police”
Rated R
2004

Renegade satirists Trey Parker and Matt Stone are songsmiths at heart. Why else would the “South Park” creators paint a wide swatch of blue across the Great White Way with a full-fledged Mormon-mocking musical?

Yes, 2004’s “Team America: World Police” shrewdly, scathingly spoofed the jarhead action of Jerry Bruckheimer and Michael Bay — giving full blockbuster treatment to a film featuring marionettes. (If not Bay, “America” seems to have shamed Bruckheimer out of that genre altogether.)

But such films are nothing without crappy songs, with which “America” is purposefully chockablock. Highlights of Parker’s on-point lyrical work include: “Freedom Isn’t Free,” a send-up of opportunistic flag-waving country tunes; “Only a Woman,” re-envisioning “Top Gun’s” sex scene with golden showers and Cleveland steamers; and the infinitely self-explanatory “America, Fuck Yeah!”

Team America are commandos combating the plot of “9/11 times 2,356” hatched by North Korea’s Kim Jong Il, actor Alec Baldwin and the F.A.G. (Film Actors Guild) — which includes Helen Hunt, Susan Sarandon and a Matt Damon marionette incapable of uttering anything besides his own name.

Vacancy in the marionettes’ eyes differs little from, say, Megan Fox’s, and throwaway perspective gags (goldfish swimming beside a submarine) add to Parker and Stone’s absurd, but sensible, string-yanking of the action genre.

Throw in a mélange of al-Qaeda terrorist gibberish (with the occasionally surfacing words “Muhammed,” “jihad” and “Allah” all Hollywood often hears anyway) and semi-sensible anatomical analogies for foreign policy, and it’s clear “America” rowdily resurrected the Zucker Brothers’ spirit of peerless, puerile genre satire.


Team America Trailer
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