Posts Tagged ‘Ray Romano’

Kick Ass: The film served many purposes for me. Interesting fight sequences, a respectable amount of gore and a story that lends itself to be vaguely interesting. Matter of fact, if it weren’t for Peter Stebbings’ Defendor, I would have liked it a whole lot more. Aaron Johnson is Dave Lizewski, geek by day and Kick Ass, geek in a retarded costume by night. Aaron has put in considerable effort into the role, trying to come across as the Tin Man with a purple heart, but I guess he’s at least a decade and a few Natural Born Killers away from bringing the sort of credibility that Woody Harrelson does in Defendor. Thankfully, Christopher Mintz-Plasse as D’Amico Jr / Red Mist, Chloe Moretz as Hit-Girl and Garrett M. Brown as Mr Lizewski tune in good performances and make this film worth a second viewing. I wasn’t a fan of Mark Strong as the psychotic gangster; he uses the same steely-eyed glares from the Archie character in Rock N Rolla to convey pretty much every emotion from anger to excitement and it doesn’t quite work this time around. The conversations between him and his son (Mintz-Plasse) make it glaringly obvious that one of them is trying really hard and the other clearly phoning it in.

Nicolas Cage’s awkward tribute to Adam West almost ruins the entire film. He even reenacts Mel Gibson’s Freedom cry in Braveheart right before his own daughter (Chloe) fittingly puts a bullet in his head and ends his misery and ours, as well. I’ve heard there has been a lot of public outrage regarding the full-on violence and gore involving teens in Kick Ass, to which I can only reiterate, go read the goddam crime section of your local newspaper. Our world can be a messed-up violent place where children and angels get hurt all the time. We aren’t ostriches to stick our heads into the mud and pretend that everything is fine. Plus, when global food and water shortage along with genetic mutation run rampant in the near future, we’d look like absolute morons, getting our faces devoured by zombies and our refrigerators pillaged by those surviving, mostly comprising horror movie buffs and wrestlers. Uhmmm. Yeah.

Daisy Chain: Aisling Walsh’s The Daisy Chain thrives on the weight of superlative performances from its lead actors. Samantha Morton is one of the best actresses to have graced indy films recently. She’s the Parker Posey of the 2000s, taking up roles that would leave A-list actresses breathless from the fright of having to read a well-written screenplay. Then there’s Steven Mackintosh, the stoner guy who had that killer “You went out six hours ago to buy a money counter and you come back with a semi-conscious Gloria and a bag of fertilizer. Alarm bells are ringing” line in Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels. He’s in such great form in The Daisy Chain that you can almost hear a time bomb ticking every time he hides his discontentment. These two play a grieving couple who have moved to a remote Irish village to mourn their daughter’s death only to be scared shitless by a bug-eyed spooky autistic kid (Mhairi Anderson as Daisy).

Trouble brews to a feverish pitch soon enough, with Martha (Samantha) obsessively considering adopting the little critter and Tomas (Steven) all convinced that Daisy’s a nasty fairy who brings awful luck to all those close to her. The ending falls slightly off track, but with all the great acting and fantastic cinematography by Simon Kossoff, we can hardly even notice such fallacies.

I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead: Director Mike Hodges took a long absence from directing films after releasing the stylishly film noir Croupier, with Clive Owen. Fifteen years later, he comes back to make I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead, a darker and grittier slice of film noir that follows Will Graham on his trail to uncovering the facts behind his younger brother’s suicide. Clive Owen, playing Will, is back to complement Hodges’ no-nonsense storytelling with his Cary Grant meets Red Dragon charisma-slash-viciousness. He’s almost hypnotically brooding in both movement and dialogue; great look too, sort of like a moody Hell’s Angels member who theorizes passages from Wuthering Heights when he’s not raising hell.

Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who actually doesn’t muck about as much as I thought he did, is a treat to watch as he brings out his character’s cockiness without breaking a sweat; he plays Davey – Will’s sibling – a carefree drug dealer and part-time hustler. Malcolm McDowell however grabs the spotlight from everybody in sight. He’s spectacular as Boad, the vicious man in a suit and deserves as much credit as William Hurt did in History Violence and Karthik in Mouna Ragam. His monologue towards the end is so good that it qualifies as disturbing. Also, Mike Hodges was the brains behind the Get Carter – the original version.

Eulogy: This story about a family wallowing in the confines of their socially-retarded suburban wasteland rinses and repeats from a long list of movies about dysfunctional families. It borrows a bit from Death At A Funeral (dad’s funeral, sexual deviances), and throws in a few scenes from American Beauty (quasi-unhappy conclusions), Royal Tenenbaums (genetic disorder) and such. Director Michael Clancy realizes that it’s a formula that would only work if the actors brought something unique to it; luckily for him a few of them do. Despite its unoriginality, Eulogy is entertaining in respectable portions. Zooey Deschanel doesn’t show any of the decay that films like Failure To Launch and The Happening would soon have her fruitlessly fighting against. Here she’s still one of the reigning indy queens, wide-eyed, seductively pale-faced, uncomfortably adjusting her shoulders, pursing her lips and squinting her eyes to squeeze out every bit of intensity. Hank Azaria, Kelly Preston and Debra Winger also bring it like we know they can. Ray Romano breaks free of his sort of squeaky-clean sitcom image and goes all Bob Saget on us, saying scandalous stuff like “don’t throw a lemon at me in front of a lesbian”. Sometimes it makes you laugh, other times it makes you go “where have I heard that before?”. Sort of like this movie.

Sherlock Holmes: Did Guy Ritchie have an orgy with Van Helsing DVDs, the entire cast from The Rocky Horror Picture Show and lots of mescaline before directing this? This is ‘Michael Keaton as Batman’ bad. No. No. Scratch that. This reaches ‘George Clooney as Batman’ levels of depravity. Also, casting Jude Law as Dr Watson has set the benchmark for boneheaded-ness unless someone builds a time machine, kidnaps Zac Efron and goes back in time to convince Sydney Pollack to cast him as Dorothy Michaels to Dustin Hoffman’s Michael Dorsey in Tootsie.

Death At A Funeral (2010): First director Neil LaBute absolutely murdered The Wicker Man, one of the finest horror films ever, and left its corpse rotting in Nicholas Cage’s trophy case. Now he has surgically removed everything that was funny in Frank Oz’s Death at a Funeral, a great Brit rib tickler, and left us with a piss-poor version of it that features the tamest of the Def Jam comedy crew. Thank heavens he at least had the fortitude to retain Peter Dinklage from the original and as expected, his awesomeness is the only saving grace in this film. Everything else hurts as much as this.

Also, me like the reviews at http://www.pajiba.com. Me thinks you might too.

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Judd Apatow’s Funny People, a film about a comedian/celebrity George Simmons – confused me. As the end credits rolled, I wasn’t sure whether I liked it or not. I ended up on middle ground, which was really annoying, given my aversion towards the neutrality of things. Indifference is the ultimate insult a common man can assign to a work of art and since cinema (and the love I have for it) is something I hold near and dear, I hated feeling inadequate about either recommending it or shitting on the essence of its being. Here’s the problem first. Adam Sandler (who plays George Simmons) must have hoped Funny People would do for him what JCVD did for Jean Claude Van Damme. I guess it’s alright for celebrities to seek therapy through self-caricaturizing; at least it beats going down to some river to pray. It worked for the Belgian muscleman because the public had never before thought of him as a man who suffers, let alone muse eloquently over all those crappy films he starred in. After watching his insecurities come alive on-screen, no longer did people think Van Damme’s first reaction to anything would be to do a seriously gay version of the splits or position his limbs for a Judo crane kick. The self-loathing characterization in JCVD hit a nerve (in me, at least) because it made for a chilling catharsis of the actor. Even Bruce Campbell’s My Name Is Bruce sort of worked, with the cult legend more than willing to laugh uproariously at his delusions of grandeur while secretly grinning at how fame once pulled a fast one on him about his place in cinema.

Despite not knowing if the director Judd Apatow intended to caricaturize Adam Sandler, I can’t but help nurse suspicions about it. Going by this alone, his film fell a little flat. The only musing I have ever done about Adam Sandler was whether or not the man is truly retarded. The characters he played in films like Billy Madison, Happy Gilmour and Waterboy seemed to be an extension of his real self minus the extraordinary savantism. His stand-up comedy too is centered on funny accents, childish cussing and penile jokes, something I’m sure his mates back home would testify to as a weekend by the couch with a couple of beers activity. Maybe I’m wrong, but I’d hate to think this didn’t affect my liking of this film. So, seeing his character supposedly bare his soul on the canvas didn’t do much for me.

Here’s what worked. Seth Rogen, Jonah Hill, Jason Schwartzman, Leslie Mann, Eric Bana and the ten or so brilliantly executed cameos. Rogen and Hill – who play standup comedians Ira Wright and Leo Koenig – are probably the most sought-after comedians in Hollywood right now. They’re pretty funny, if only they didn’t indulge in so much toilet humour (conveniently, George Simmons makes a mention of it). Here they are in form, especially Rogen with his man-child impersonations. Now I know that if Sarah Silverman and Will Ferrell ever had a child, it’d be really funny. Hollywood’s nerdiest prodigy Jonah Hill is going places with his obnoxious anti-frat boy comedy and he knows it; the arrogance is evident and well-deserved.

As for Jason Schwartzman (he plays Wright and Leo’s egomaniacal roommate), he has a little Bill Murray thing going for him. No matter how similar most of the characters he portrays seem to be, he still manages to make them engaging. In Funny People, the sympathy he shows for his roomies is subtly hilarious. There’s a scene in which he sits next to Rogen’s character and explains why he slept with his date…look at the expressions on Schwartzman’s face, I’m telling you, Mr Murray would be proud.

Leslie Mann’s character (Simmons’ love interest) was well crafted too. I really dug the confrontation scene, with the three men standing there, jaws open and fists raised, unsure of who to blame and for what. Eric Bana provides standard fare as the sweet and sour-tongued Aussie husband who has read too many self-help books. For me, the true highlights of Funny People were the cameos. The scene in which Marshall Mathers (Eminem) confronts Ray Romano (from Everybody Loves Raymond) is just about the funniest scene I have watched in a mainstream movie in a long time. Rap outfit Wu Tang Clan’s RZA, Andy Dick, James Taylor, Paul Reiser – all provide rib-tickling fastfood humour, with quick and to the point punchlines. The Sarah Silverman stand up bit about Kanye West and Obama also qualifies as a laugh out loud moment. (if you find it offensive, you’re a bigger jackass than Kanye).

I’ll say this too…Funny People could be the first step towards changing the public (for all those who care, at least) perception of Adam Sandler’s talent as an actor. Truth be told, it’s probably the most intense he has even been. Even in the vastly underrated Paul Anderson’s Punch Drunk Love, the tragedy of his character’s life seemed more odd than actually moving.

In Funny People, George Simmons desperately tries to take a step back, lose the jokes and get a bit more serious about his place in the world. I guess, in 2009, Adam Sandler tried that too. To quote one of his classically retarded characters – Billy Madison – “Well, I made the duck blue because I’d never seen a blue duck before and I wanted to see one”.

Well, you decide if you want to see this blue duck (I’m aware that at some level, I’m making no sense whatsoever).

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