Our Greatest Living Film Critic, I

Vol. I, September, 2018

Carlitos Way (1993)

I finally watched Carlito’s Way (1993), which is a movie where Al Pacino plays a Puerto Rican gangster that everybody thinks is Italian. Maybe they saw him in The Godfather (1972)? It’s nice to see a movie from back when Pacino was making an effort. In this movie, also staring Luis Guzman, Pacino does an excellent Luis Guzman imitation, maybe the best I’ve ever seen committed to film. Good plot. Brian de Palma could show the director of Jurassic World (2015) how the camera can track complex action in a space without completely fucking it up. John Leguizamo has a magic silencer that means nearby police officers can’t hear him fire 3 shots, or hear Penelope Ann Miller screaming. I give it 3.5 curly red wigs out of a possible 5 curly red wigs.

Unbreakable (2000)

Rewatched Unbreakable (2000). They are opposites: Bruce Willis can’t be harmed, and Samuel L. Jackson shatters like glass. Samuel L. Jackson emotes, and Bruce Willis does not. The entire movie, he has only two faces: inexpressive, and lifting weights. M. Night Shyamalan includes certain things in many of his movies: twist endings, depth of field in shot composition, water as a symbolic threat, and tense scenes where kids want to shoot Bruce Willis. I can’t wait for the next installment of the MCU (the M. Night Shyamalan cinematic universe)! I give it 3 custom made glass canes out of a possible 5 custom made glass canes.

The Siege (1998)

Rewatched The Siege (1998). I had forgotten the ending to that movie: the FBI arrests the Army, thus stopping Martial Law. 30 seconds later, all detainees are free, then there is a spontaneous celebratory dance party like at the end of Return of the Jedi. I give it 3 broadswords out of a possible 5 broadswords.

Sharpe’s Rifles (1993)

Watched Sharpe’s Rifles (1993), the first of a series of BBC movies starring Sean Bean as an enlisted man rising through the ranks during the Napoleonic wars. They made an interesting choice to set the story in Spain and film it in Crimea, and you really get some great shots of that foggy weather Spain is so famous for having. Another interesting choice was to have the main character’s theme be an electric guitar with as much whammy bar as possible, and any time a Spanish person was on screen they made sure to play some flamenco guitar to let you know what’s going on. On the other hand, Sean Bean is awesome, and though he did not get ambushed wit’a [bleepin] coffee in this movie, he did get ambushed several times without being killed — a rarity. I give it 2 field promotions out of a possible 5 field promotions.

Predator (1987)

Rewatched Predator (1987). Turns out Bill Duke as Mac and Sonny Landham as Billy are tied for best character. Who would win in a fight, Rambo or Dutch? Dutch kills the Predator, and Rambo kills Brian Dennehy. So Rambo wins. It’s implied that the Predator visits this jungle in Nicaragua (?) during the hottest years in order to hunt, but 99 times out of 100 he is just going to be hunting random villagers / jungle possums, so why come back to this particular spot if he wants to hunt the best of the best? Go to that town where Brian Dennehy is sheriff and see if you’ve got what it takes. I give it 4.5 MTV t-shirts out of a possible 5 MTV t-shirts.

Gone Girl (2014)

Watched Gone Girl (2014). Horror story about the media. Good cast. David Fincher movies are all pretty good, this one is one of my least favorite. Went on way too long, 2.5 dang hours. Tyler Perry and Rosamund Pike were good! Ben Affleck is literally Ben Affleck. Got that Fincher color palette. I bet none of that blood was practical. I give it 3.5 robot dogs out of a possible 5 robot dogs.

Hail, Caesar! (2016)

Watched Hail, Caesar! (2016). A little loose, left me feeling like it wasn’t quite finished, but I would say it’s in the top tier of Cohen Brothers movies because the best parts are amazing, and the worst parts are still good. What a cast. Clancy Brown and Christopher Lambert! I give it 4 bernanners out of a possible 5 bernanners.

Den of Thieves (2018)

Watched Den of Thieves (2018). Hey, I liked Heat as much as the next guy, but maybe not as much as the director of this movie, who decided he would remake it. It actually has the scene where the detective and the thief talk to each other in a restaurant, and the climactic point-to-point shootout on the streets of Los Angeles. Gerard Butler gives a watchable, leathery performance in the Al Pacino role, but everyone else in the movie is just a talking tattoo. O’Shea Jackson, Jr. was okay. I wonder if 50 cent was offer only, or whether he had to audition. I am a sucker for movies with a lot of procedural police talk and tactical military gear, so I liked that part. The movie had serious pacing issues: it didn’t need to clock in at 2.5 hours. The twist ending was that it was The Usual Suspects, not Heat. I will watch the sequel. I give it 3 Boracchos out of a possible 5 Borrachos.

Bande à Part

Watched Bande à Part (1964), a Godard film that influenced everyone from Wes Anderson to Quentin Tarantino. Very meta and fourth-wall breaking, so maybe it ripped off Deadpool? It is a low-stakes caper movie that shows the lives of three teenagers (who are played by people who look like they’re 40, but I guess that’s what growing up in the depression will do to you) in the bleak economy of post-war France. I give it 4 minutes of silence out of a possible 5 minutes of silence.

Insomnia (2002)

Rewatched Insomnia (2002). Christopher Nolan’s least appreciated movie? One of his best! The last time he made a movie set in something resembling our world? Fits in the cultural history right between the Silence of the Lamb-inspired thrillers and the era Scandinavian inspired Girl with the Dragon Tattoo-inspired thrillers. Good thing Al Pacino had a reason to sleepwalk through this performance! 4 dead dog corpses out of a possible 5 dead dog corpses.

Farewell to the King (1989)

Watched Farewell to the King (1989), with Nick Nolte as a WWII deserter who appoints himself king of a tribe in Borneo. John Milius can write a meaty script, but he is a bad director, and the editing was awful. Combines parts of Lawrence of ArabiaThe Man Who Would Be KingPatton, and a pinch of Blanka from Street Fighter, but all of them are better than this movie. I give it 2.5 tattoos of an eagle riding a dragon out of a possible 5 tattoos of an eagle riding a dragon.

Catch Me If You Can (2002)

Rewatched Catch Me If You Can (2002). Is this my favorite Steven Spielberg movie? Maybe, if you don’t count Jaws (1975)! Definitely my favorite DiCaprio performance. Favorite Walken performance? Can’t think of a better one! Not my favorite Tom Hanks performance, but he is always good. I give it five hacking chest coughs out of a possible five hacking chest coughs.