Coming off the heels of the sadly underrated but brilliant To Die For,… MoreComing off the heels of the sadly underrated but brilliant To Die For, Van Sant made his first overtly mainstream, but no less superb effort, which is this movie.
Co-written by co-stars Matt Damon and Ben Affleck, this is the story of Will Hunting- a troubled 20 year-old janitor at MIT with a dark past, and a bad attitude, but an amazing gift for upper level mathematics. He is a genius, but would rather spend his time hanging out with his blue collar buddies in Southie. After secretly solving a challenging math problem posed for students, the professor seeks Will out. Due to some troubles with the law, he's facing jail time, but finds an out. The catch is that he has to do math for MIT and see a therapist. He reluctantly agrees, and despite a rough start, he soon finds himself with a better grasp on both his troubled past and his uncertain future.
Damon and Affleck won Oscars for their script, and Robin Williams won an Oscar for his turn as Will's no-nonsense sage therapist. It's all some very impressive work. and the film itself is quite a marvel. It's a very touching and moving drama with some great life lessons and message, but there's still a decent amount of humor here, too.
The film is well shot, the cast are terrific, and, as I said, there's a strong message. The characters are well crafted and believable, too. It's fine that Van Sant directed this. He's versatile, and his style is pretty fluid, or at least it can be, so he's a fine match. It's a fine film, even if it might be a tad overrated. It does a lot right though, so, even with the hype, give it a chance.
One of the most moving and remarkable films of the past decade. Milk… MoreOne of the most moving and remarkable films of the past decade. Milk is an extraordinary and extremely well-made film about the final eight years of the life and career of Harvey Milk- a time when his life truly mattered, and when the world was altered because of him. If you don't know, Harvey Milk was the first openly gay elected official in the U.S., and a major player in the world of gay rights. I didn't see Sean Penn in this movie. All I saw was Harvey Milk. That's what I love about Penn- no matter what the role is, he takes it and totally disappears into it. The rest of the cast is equally amazing, and it's a shame that they all couldn't get Oscars for their work. I was especially fond of Hirsch, Brolin, Franco, and Pill. This is somewhat of a return to more mainstream stuff for Gus Van Sant, but I wouldn't call it a complete sell out. That he is openly gay himself doesn't necessarily make the film on the nose, nor does it make the film any better, but it probably doesn't hurt. I just love how this is a show of his versatility. He can make a string of artsy indie stuff, then, no pun intended, play it straight and do something like this: a straightforward biopic about a gay man. Bottom line: This is an important film that needs to be seen-regardless of one's personal convictions.
This is the final film in Gus Van Sant's so-called "death trilogy",… MoreThis is the final film in Gus Van Sant's so-called "death trilogy", and it's a tough one to sit through. But that could be said about several of his films, so I'm not sure why I'm stating it. Maybe as a disclaimer or something. This is basically a non-narrative, minimalist (plot, dialogue) piece about a burned out, lonely, and mentally isolated rock musician named Blake, and the last few days he spends alive before dying in a very ambiguous manner. The film is only very loosely based upon/inspired by Kurt Cobain, and what his last few days very may have been like. The pacing of this film is extremely slow, and very deliberate, Having a slow pace makes the film seem far longer than 96 minutes and a chore to sit through, and while that is true, it is also a good thing. The audience is forced to sit through the wandering, dull, random and basically pointless activities like laying around, walking around, mumbling to oneself, and doing nothing really in particular. This is a tedious film that's not for everyone, but it was purposefully made this way. It's an indie/arthouse film, not a Michael Bay blockbuster. It's hard to relate to Blake personally, but not his experience and the pain, loneliness, despair he feels. I applaud Van Sant for being bold enough to make this kind of movie just for the sake of making it. For me, the best parts come from the technical end (directing, editing, acting, camera work and music). This is not really that fun or pleasant an experience, but it's one that should be experienced at least once.
Quite an experience. More about tone than anything. I read a review on… MoreQuite an experience. More about tone than anything. I read a review on someone's blog that said that not only does this film not trivialize Columbine (as some have criticized it of doing), it also is not about school shootings (kinda like how Hitchcock's "The Birds" is about everything but people being attacked by birds). The basic plot, despite a look at the American mundane (and death) follows a seemingly ordinary day at a high school that suddenly and inexplicable turns tragic. This film walks a fine line between being flat-out pretentious and inaccessible for most everyone, but also not. This is mainly because of the indie/experimental style used in it's creation. Despite this little point, the experimental artiness of it all is actually a big strength. Pretty much all the actors are nonprofessionals (or non actors period), and there's lots of long takes, slo-mo and handheld camerawork. Had this been a more mainstream or Hollywood type of film it wouldn't have been as good or powerful. The final fifteen minutes are done without any real emotion or music or slo-mo, making everything that happens all the more disturbing and unsettling. The film plays with time and sequence, but unlike stuff Tarantino does, it's not as immediately easy to follow. This bugged me a bit as it was hard to keep things in check, but at the same time, made things seem even more affecting since the whole movie is about a normal day that just goes horribly wrong with no real explanation or closure. Kinda like everyday life. This film is not for everyone, but should be seen by everyone at least once. Like I said as I started this review, it's "quite an experience".
This movie features what is by far the best performance that Nicole… MoreThis movie features what is by far the best performance that Nicole has given in her career. It's such a shame that she didn't get an Oscar for this. She is brilliant as the icy, determined, manipulative, intimidating, and sexy woman who will do anything to be famous. She's not likable, but there is some humor with her character, albeit very dark. The rest of the cast is also very awesome, especially a young Joaquin Phoenix, and a very snide Illeana Douglas. The script is very biting and witty, and satirical to the max. This film is extremely dark, yet extremely humorous at the same time. The subject matter is at times very uncomfortable, but there are still laughs...just very uncomfortable ones. As an added plus, the soundtrack is good, Van Sant's direction is well done, and David Cronenberg has a nice cameo. One of the best films of the 90's.
The above paragraph is my old review written in the summer of 2008. The previous sentence, this one, and all that follow are from summer 2013. I now realize that I forgot to mention the plot in my old review. Well, here it is: A New Hampshire housewife with delusions of grandeur dreams of making it famous as a TV news anchor. This type of job isn't all that easy to come by in her small, humble town, but she's determined to make it anyway. All that seems to be standing in her way is her going nowhere bum of a husband. Well, that's nothing a little murder can't take care of, right?
In all honesty, I can't remember all the details of my initial (and so far only) viewing of this movie. It's obvious I really liked it. I mean, I called it one of the best films of the 90s. That might be an overstatement. Maybe not. It's easily one of the most underrated films of that decade, that's for sure. Anyways, I do think that the film is wonderfully darkly comedic, and the performances are dynamite, so yeah, give it a watch.
Deep down, I wanted to like this movie, and I wanted it to be good. I… MoreDeep down, I wanted to like this movie, and I wanted it to be good. I wanted to like it in general, but also because this film has an infamous reputation for being terrible. I thought that it couldn't be that bad, and that it had to have at least one redeeming value or two. Well, it turns out that both I and the reputation are correct.
This movie does suck..a lot. But it does have some interesting and quirky performances. However, all the absurdity in the world can't make up for the fact that this story and script are muddled, incoherent, and a rambling, random mess. I'm sure everyone had fun making this film, and I do appreciate nuttiness, but c'mon, what the hell even happens in this movie?
I like the idea of a nice hippie with freaky oversized thumbs hitchhiking her way across the country. The idea of a bunch of raunchy cowgirls on a ranch is cool too. None of this comes together and really gels though. I like the cast. They are a large and diverse group of interesting characters. However, not all of the performances are all that great, and many of the characters are just goofy, shallow caricatures with little to no development. That said, they all try to put out a bit of effort at the very least. I do like John Hurt, though. In fact, he may be the highlight. He's a scream to watch run around in drag being flamboyant. This is probably one of his more brave, interesting, and eyebrow raising roles.
I think a good way to describe this mostly, but not quite irredeemable failure is that it is kind of like a light and slightly sanitized version of a John Waters film...maybe. It's probably best as a campy cult classic midnight movie. I've never heard it get that status though. Everyone instead just seems to hate it. As camp, it is sometimes fun, but somehow this manages to be boring, even during some of the odder and more absurd moments.
So yeah, this isn't a complete waste, but it is close.
Once in a while, I do enjoy Gus Van Sant, who, for me, is a lot like… MoreOnce in a while, I do enjoy Gus Van Sant, who, for me, is a lot like Steven Soderbergh: really versatile, talented, and definitely important. This movie has been on my list of films to see since I first wrote it over five years ago. Yes, I'm serious. I'm not sure why it took me so long to finally see it, but I'm glad I finally did.
Allegedly this is supposed to be loosely based on the Shakespeare works Henry IV Parts I and II and Henry V, but I didn't really see that. Of course, it would probably help if I was actually familiar with those works, but still. Okay, so sometimes the dialogue does come off as somewhat Shakespearean because of the delivery, but I really don't see the whole thing of translating historical dramas into a dream-like road movie about two hustlers.
We mostly follow Mike Waters, a sensitive young street hustler with narcolepsy. He works the streets of Portland and Seattle, but longs to find his mother who abandoned him at a young age. His search leads him to all kinds of places, namely Idaho (where he's originally from), but overseas as well. Joining him on his quest for "home" is Scott Favor the unrequited love interest. Scott, like Mike, is a hustler, but he's from a more well-to-do background. In fact, he's the wayward son of Portland's mayor. He says he'll eventually straighten up and do as his father wishes, but for the time being, he's happy being on the mean streets with all kinds of colorful characters.
The film was a rather big deal when it came out, and I can see why. It sheds light on an interesting subculture, it's got some mostly strong direction, great visuals, it continued Van Sant's wave of success, and featured some terrific performances from River Phoenix as Mike and, yes, shockingly enough, Keanu Reeves as Scott. I don't know what happened to him that caused him to be how he is now, but yeah, back in the day, he was actually a credible and legitimately good performer. Other performers are good too, but these guys are the real highlight.
Even though this is a good movie, and I can see why it has a very positive reputation, it's not perfect. It's merely good, instead of great, hasn't really aged that well, doesn't seem that fresh anymore, and has a tendency to meander a little too much a little too often. It does provide a nice and sensible look at Gen X hustlers, but even then it comes off as a tad pretentious here and there.
Despite my gripes, I do like this, I'm glad I finally saw it, and think you should check it out if you enjoy the offbeat, or want to really get into the career of Van Sant.
Based on a novel, this is a story, set in the Pacific Northwest in the… MoreBased on a novel, this is a story, set in the Pacific Northwest in the early 1970s about a group of drug addicts who rob pharmacies in order to get their fix and continue to stay high. They consist of husband and wife team Bob and Dianne Hughes (Matt Dillon and Kelly Lynch) and the younger couple Rick and Nadine (James LeGros and a young Heather Graham). Bob is a bit paranoid and superstitious, Dianne is rather sexually frustrated, Rick is a bit of a dolt, and Nadine is a young teenage runaway. They have their problems, but are nonetheless an offbeat family who make things work, despite their dangerous lifestyle. Given the nature of how they live and operate, the crew has been surprisingly lucky. When their luck begins to change however, Bob realizes that, no matter how hard it might be, a change needs to be made.
This was Gus Van Sant's sophmore effort, but it became his breakout work that put him on the map. This is a very strong effort, and actually enjoyable despite the grim and gritty subject matter. What makes it all work is that it finds that middle ground where it manages to not sugarcoat things, but also not get too extreme or come off as preachy or pretentious along the way. It is competently and artistically made, and I can see why Van Sant managed to go somewhere after this instead of becoming a one trick indie darling.
The music, cinematography, and editing are all quite nice, and the film does a great job of depicting the seedier side of the early 70s drug culture without glamorizing things even though they're done with strong helpings of cinematic craft and style. Where the film truly shines though is with the casting and the performances. Matt Dillon had done work before this, but his turn as Bob is pure excellence, and really made him a rising star. Kelly Lynch gives a finely observed turn as Dianne, and her performance really adds to the pain that is felt when it becomes clear that she will probably never change. LeGros is pretty good as Rick, but he gets a little too overshadowed by the others. Graham is quite strong as the newbie of the group, and it's wonderful seeing her in the infancy of her career. Other notable work is put in by James Remar as a cop bound and determined to catch the group and put them away for good and William S. Burroughs as a defrocked priest who shows up for just a few brief, but important scenes fleshing out the world of drugs and the toll they can take.
All in all, this was quite an impressive film. I think it is brilliant, but can't, for some reason, bring myself to give it the full 5. It gets at least an A- though, it that puts things in perspective. I guess maybe I'm a little nitpicky because I was able to guess (correctly) the outcome of some events. Maybe I shouldn't hold that against the film though. After all, trying to be completely original and 100% unpredictable is something that died out long ago. Still though, you should definitely give this one a go.
Written by the ZAZ Team (Airplane! The Naked Gun, etc) and directed by… MoreWritten by the ZAZ Team (Airplane! The Naked Gun, etc) and directed by John Landis (National Lampoon's Animal House, The Blues Brothers, etc), this is one of, if not the earliest spoof film.
There's not really much of a plot, as this is more of an anthology of mostly unconnected sketches that parody various television programs, commercials, and different films, namely of the exploitation and educational varieties. There's also a hilarious jab at cinematic gimmicks, where a man goes to a movie being shown in "feel around"...which results in him being physically accosted by an usher.
The film is very politically incorrect, rude, stupid, silly, and goofy, but I mostly had a good time with it. A lot of it is pretty smart with the satire, and really dead on, but then there's a fair amount that just left me feeling kinda "meh", despite a sly grin on my face.
I think the biggest issue here is that the film, though clever and well done, is quite dated, and some of the jokes are no longer as effective thanks to the passage of time, with audiences growing more accustomed to raunch.
All in all though, it is enjoyable, but not nearly as groundbreaking as later stuff like Airplane! That being said, I must give special praise to the level of detail and care that went into the Kung fu parody, as well as the fact that the film features a midget dressed in a clown suit whipping half naked Catholic schoolgirls chained up in a dungeon.
If this sounds like your thing, then give it a shot.