Tag: John Goodman


10 Cloverfield Lane

August 6th, 2016 — 2:42am

Screen Shot 2016-08-05 at 12.49.22 PM**

10 Cloverfield Lane-rm

On a cross country air flight, one of us (MB) usually tries to catch up on a movie that we missed and heard had good press. I thought that this movie would fit that bill especially with it being a J.J. Abrams Production. I expect to see some well-done science fiction or a horror story with some interesting twist. It is directed by Dan Trachtenberg who did Portal: No Escape with a somewhat parallel theme of a woman waking up in a testing facility with no idea how she got there.

An attractive woman (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) jumps in her car and is leaving her husband. She is driving on the open road and suddenly there is some kind of a crash and she finds herself in an underground house with a big somewhat scary looking man (John Goodman) hovering over her. The guy presents himself as a survivalist who has been planning for the end of the world scenario, which he says is happening. He just happened to save her and bring her into his underground well-equipped house to save her from the aliens and poison gasses, which are outside. Obviously, there are more details. First, you don’t believe him, then you do or maybe you don’t but on the other hand? Can she escape? Should she escape? Is this movie all about the meaning of abuse? What is the music, and other noises in the background telling us? Yes, on one hand it seems fairly believable, but a gasmask made from soda bottle? Come on. If anyone can make us believe a fanciful tale J.J. Abrams (Star Wars etc) should be able to do it.

In the end, I needed more. Maybe I’m not the right demographic. The film did gross $72 million, however I believe there are better films around and I suggest that you pass on this one.(2016)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Drama, Horror, Thriller

Inside Llewyn Davis

March 3rd, 2015 — 3:15am

*** Screen Shot 2015-03-02 at 7.10.18 PM

Inside Llewelyn Davis- nf  This is a story about a fictional folk singer in the 1960s played by Oscar Isaacs. The Coen brothers wrote the screenplay and also directed it. It also features Carey Mulligan, John Goodman, Garrett Hedlund and Justin Timberlake. Think of a Bob Dylan who never became well known. He is obviously talented and believes in his music. We see him playing in clubs in Greenwich Village in Manhattan and struggling to be recognized and get work. He is intense and brooding. He is scarred by the trauma of the death of a former singing partner who jumped off the George Washington Bridge. He frequently crashes on the couches of people who like and believe in him. There is some very fine folk music in the film not only sung by the protagonist but also an outstanding background music track. This flows through most of the movie as we follow Llewelyn hitching long car rides across the country as he seeks gigs to establish himself. This is a very likable character and we believe the audience will be rooting for him as we were. Much of the film was shot in dark clubs or in the evening. We had to think twice to be sure the movie wasn’t in black and white. You might call it Film Noir without the mystery plot. We don’t see fame and fortune at the end, which might make some of us feel sad. But perhaps this movie is really for the young or those who identify with the generation still in their 20s and 30s when you are willing to hold on to your dream even when the “pot of gold” is not in sight.(2013)

 

Comment » | 3 Stars, Drama

The Big Lebowski

October 28th, 2014 — 9:33pm

*** 
Screen Shot 2014-10-27 at 11.33.05 PMThe Big Lebowski nf – There is nothing like a cross-country plane ride to find an old film that you missed and think you might like. In this case for us it turned out to be The Big Lebowski starring Jeff Bridges and John Goodman. This movie is often affectionately referenced in various settings and we were curious to watch it. Bridges plays “The Dude” who might be described as a good old boy with a heart of gold who is usually content to mind his own business and hang out with his buddies at the bowling alley. He dresses as if he is walking around in his underwear, with a bathrobe thrown over him. He is, of course, very likeable. The biggest event in his life would seem to be the latest bowling tournament. That is until The Dude gets mistaken for some rich guy called The Big Lebowski and gets drawn into an apparent kidnapping and ransom scheme of The Big Lebowski’s wife. The Dude’s good friend Walter (John Goodman) gets involved. He sees himself as a tough guy who knows how to handle difficult situations but usually he makes things worse. But that doesn’t stop him from trying to help the Dude with some new twist that develops. These guys are the charm of the film. The more the Dude tries to work his way out of trouble, the deeper he gets into it. In fact, he gets punched out several times and there is always a very creative depiction of his journey being unconscious. The movie really doesn’t go any place. The Coen Brother who wrote and directed the film put together a supporting cast that includes Julianne Moore, Steve Bucemia, Ben Gazzara, John Turturro and others. In the end we see that life goes on. The Dude carries on his life. Perhaps we all know this guy in a small way or he is someone we think we know or maybe on some level he is us. (1998)

Comment » | 3 Stars, Comedy, Drama

The Monuments Men

February 15th, 2014 — 10:05pm

****

The Monuments Men -Guest Review

This is a guest review by Ron Turco, M.D.  Dr. Turco is a psychiatrist and psychoanalyst from Portalnd, Oregon. He is Chair of the Committee on Art, Culture and Creativity of the American Academy of Psychoanalysis and Dynamic Psychiatrythe-monuments-men-poster02

I read with substantial disappointment David Denby’s shallow and un-insightful review of George Clooney’s new film “The Monuments Men.” (New Yorker – Feb. 17-24, 2014).He compares this film to the old Frankenheimer movie “The Train.”  There is no comparison, as the train was not historically accurate and barely mentioned in passing Rose Valland, Temporary Custodian at the Jeu de Paume whose influence was so important in the discovery of looted works in France, at the risk of her own life, that she received the French Legion of Honor and the Medal of Resistance becoming a Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters, making her one of the most decorated women in France. She also received a Medal of Freedom from the United States in 1948 and an Officer’s Cross of the Order of Merit from the Federal Republic of Germany. It was her book “Le Front deL’Art” that was the basis of the 1965 movie  “The Train”, a movie in which she was only briefly mentioned, although she had also received a commission in the French First Army.

 The Monuments Men were a group of men and women from thirteen nations, most of whom volunteered for service in the newly created Monuments, Fine Arts and and Archives section (MFAA) of the military, attempting to save as much of the culture of Europe and Western Civilization as possible and were willing to fight and die for something greater than themselves. Some were killed in combat.

George Clooney has done an outstanding job with his film “The Monuments Men” and in reminding us that the story of The Holocaust must be told over and over again in different ways and at different times. He masterfully and in sometimes direct or subtle ways brings out the Nazi horror and disregard for human life. Mr Denby has missed the point entirely in his understanding of these heroes and heroines and mentions that most of the works were returned to private collectors. That is not completely true. The works were returned to the countries of origin or to the Jews from whom they were stolen. In the film George Clooney also does an excellent job in presenting the value and importance of the sacrifices of the MFAA people, a job that was endorsed by Franklin D. Roosevelt and strongly supported by Dwight D. Eisenhower. Many of these people went on, after the war, to make substantial contributions to art and culture. Private First Class Lincoln Kirstein founded the legendary New York City Ballet as one of the most important cultural figures of his generation. Second Lieutenant James J. Rorimer, who worked closely with Rose Valland, was instrumental in founding the Met’s medieval collections branch, the Cloisters. “The Monuments Men” film is very close to the facts (a few minor changes, as with all films, including “Lincoln” and “The Navajo Code Talkers”). The acting is superb and I highly recommend this film, especially to young people who may not have an understanding of the broad ramifications of The Holocaust or the history of these brave people. John Edsel’s scholarly book “The Monuments Men” should be required reading in high schools throughout our country. (2014)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History, War

Flight

February 5th, 2013 — 9:16pm

images-11**

Flight- nf  When an actor who is on the screen all the time, holds your attention and clearly shows the problem which his character is suffering, that actor deserves kudos for that performance. In this case it is Denzel Washington who plays Whit Whitaker, an airline pilot who is an alcoholic and cocaine user who on a routine flight finds himself on plane with a mechanical failure. He does an unbelievably tricky maneuver where he flies the  plane upside down to slow it down and make an emergency landing on a open field saving all “souls onboard” except 2  crew and a few passengers. You probably know all this from the coming attractions. Will he be found out to have been drinking or will  he ever admit his alcohol and drug problem which we all know is necessary to get over it?  That is just about the essence of this movie. There is a lot of drinking and some drugs with small supporting roles by John Goodman as your happy, friendly cocaine dealer, Don Cheadle as the lawyer who is supposed to defend Whit and Melissa Leo as the opposing lawyer. There really aren’t any dramatic unpredictable courtroom scenes. There is no fascinating back-story or a plot that got pulled together in a fantastic ending. If anything, the conclusion is one of a few that you would have predicted. It isn’t very believable but I am sure that the star’s name and all the hype that the movie has received will probably make it a box office success. (2012)

Comment » | 2 Stars, Drama

Argo

October 12th, 2012 — 7:47am

****

Argo-sp

If you are old enough to remember the Iran hostage crisis of the late 1970s or are a student of history of such events , this movie will remind you of those turbulent times in vivid detail. On the other hand you just have to recall the horrific details of a short a time ago when our embassy in Libya was stormed and the US ambassador was murdered, to get into the mind set to appreciate this movie. In fact, even if you knew nothing about recent or past history you could very easily get caught up in this exciting, suspenseful, thrilling, heart pounding movie. When the movie audience cheers and claps for joy at certain parts of the film you realize that they are feeling tension that is  is being built up and released. This film stars Ben Affleck as Tony Mendez a CIA agent, who actually in real life was was awarded a secret medal by that agency (everything is a secret in the CIA) for what he did which was depicted in this movie. The task he took on was to try to sneak out of revolutionary Iran,  6 Americans who had fled to the Canadian embassy and were hiding there,  when the Iranians had stormed  their embassy and made hostages of the other Americans . The plan revolved around the making a fake movie which was to be produced and directed by Hollywood mogul types  played respectively by John Goodman and Alan Arkin. This gave the movie a comic relief and a little spoof of Hollywood. This real movie Argo which had the same name as the fake movie, was directed by the star of it, Ben Affleck who also co-produced it with George Clooney and Grant Heslov.  Well deserved credit for this movie should also go to the screen writer Chris Terrio and award winniing editor William Goldenbery, Director of Photography Rodrigo Prieto and music by Alexandre Desplat. The realism that was achieved with this reenactment of those dramatic days was shown at the end of the film as  part of the credits. Photographs torn from the newspapers of that time were put side by side on the screen with still images from  this film and many were nearly identical. This included  a photo of people climbing over the fence and into the embassy grounds, a man being hanged in the street as well as the real faces on the passports of many of the characters. This film may not surprise you but you will come with a away  with a reminder of how easy it can be to become swept away with a thrilling Hollywood  movie.(2012)

Comment » | 4 Stars, Drama, History

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

February 10th, 2012 — 7:31pm

*****

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close– rm   It is very fitting that on the 10th anniversary of 9/11 a major movie should emerge that captures the personal emotion that so many New Yorkers experienced as over 3000 lives were evaporated in just a few hours with probably close to 10,000 children losing a parent. The screenplay by Eric Roth (who also wrote  Forest Gump and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button)  based on the novel by Jonathan Safran Foer, achieved this feat by not only recreating the pieces of horror that so many people went through that day but it went several steps further and deeper. The movie exposed the idealized bond between father and son which when it is there, is the most extreme tragedy to lose. We also come to appreciate how sad it is when it was never there and what could have been. Just as you think that this is just about the father-son attachments, we are shown the  love and attachment that a surviving mother might have to her grieving child. Tom Hanks and Sandra Bullock are excellent as the parents as is Thomas Horn as a quirky pre-teen (possibly with Asbergers Syndrome)   who finds a way to speak or show what he is thinking and feeling. John Goodman, Viola Davis and Jeffrey Wright turned in great performances in smaller but key roles in the film.  Stephen Daldry should get kudos if not some tangible award for   pulling all this together as the director. However it is Max Von Sydow the veteran 83 year old actor,  who plays the old man with a special connection to the others, who never utters one word in the movie but  may have turned in the standout performance of this film. The storyline may be considered by some to be a little contrived but we understood it to be an allegory where a a young boy’s trip  through the five boroughs of Manhattan is a search for growth in himself.  We  found this movie to be a tear jerker in no uncertain terms. All Americans identified and connected to those fateful events.  But if you were in New York during 9/11 and even if you were fortunate enough not to have lost a loved one, you had to have been affected by what was going on around you. We recalled the cars in our suburban parking lot that were not picked up that evening by the commuters who never came home. We remember the thousands of homemade posters that were put up all over Manhattan describing their loved ones who were listed “as missing” when it was clear that they really had perished. We know all our lives will never be same again. Having lived through this, makes this film all the more meaningful.  It will be interesting to see if people are ready to see this movie or if the painful hype that invariably will accompany it will keep it from being a big box office success. If New Yorkers were the only ones voting it might emerge as the Oscar winner but in any case this movie will be part of the history which will define  this past decade. (2011)

Comment » | 5 Stars, Drama

The Artist

December 18th, 2011 — 8:42pm

****

The Artist-rm–  The name of the lead character in this movie in George Valentin. Since the French director and writer Michel Hazanavicius emmersed himself in the study of silent films in preparation for this movie perhaps, in some way, it is an homage to silent screen star Rudolph Valentino who died at the age of 31 in 1926 a year before the time line begins in this film. This certainly is not a story about that film star just as it isn’t a remake of A Star is Born although it resembles the plot of that 1950s movie. French actor Jean Durjardin, who has worked with Hazanavicius in three previous movies,  plays a silent film star whofor whatever reason doesn’t want to try to convert to talkies when they emerge on the scene. Whereas a young budding actress whom he helped along, rises to the top in this new medium. Berenice Bejo, who happens to be the director’s wife, is captivating as Peppy Miller, the new born star. John Goodman plays Al Zimmer, the cigar chomping producer type who supports the story line. The complete  feel of this movie experience is that of watching a  great Hollywood  silent film of the early 1930s when they were the state of the art. The filmmaker not only studied this genre but paid attention to as many details as possible to gain the authentic touch of this movie. He didn’t use a steadicam. He used black and white monitors for his dailies and he chose genuine Los Angeles locations which added to the effect. For example, one ofthe houses used had belonged to silent screen star Mary Pickford. This  is a silent movie about silent movie stars and about the changing movie industry of the 1930s. Hollywood loves movies about Hollywood and especially one that is  extremely well done all around with great acting, a very appropriately matched musical background and even an extraordinary dance sequence.. This all adds up to some well deserved recognition during Oscar time.  (2011)  

Comment » | 4 Stars, Romance

Gigantic

November 7th, 2009 — 1:21am

* *
Gigantic
– sp – This is another one of those Independent film that picks up some well known actors which in this case it is why it probably gets distribution. Twenty eight year old single man decides he wants to adopt a Chinese baby. He meets and is attracted to quirky and somewhat unstable girl whose father played by John Goodman grabs your attention, as did the young man’s father played by Ed Asner. Despite it being well acted, we didn’t think the movie was really worth seeing. Screen writer and first time director Matt Aselton was the guest speaker at our film course and confirmed how the characters were not meant to be fully developed and how the story was supposed to keep the viewers off balance and really not be clearly understood (which we noted and agreed). He couldn’t explain, nor could we guess, the reason for the title of the movie. 2009

Comment » | 2 Stars, Comedy, Romance

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