Tag: george clooney

Hail, Caesar!

by on Feb.19, 2017, under Movie Reviews

hail caesarHail, Caesar! is the latest offering from the Coen Brothers who brought us classics like No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo and The Big Lebowski. The film is set in the 50s during the golden age of Hollywood and centers around a “fixer” (which is kind of another name for producer these days) who is trying to keep a studio together while dealing with erratic talent, a kidnapping, and a plot by some disgruntled writers.

The film itself is fun enough but doesn’t quite capture the magic of some of their other releases. In other words, for a Coen film, it’s kinda average which makes it a decent regular film by conventional standards but not a home run. The story itself is ok, with some interesting nods to the paranoia of the entertainment industry at that time as well as to the eccentric behavior that talent is often associated with. However, the dialog and action are not super compelling or exciting but rather run-of-the-mill. There are the occasional unexpected elements here and there but nothing as captivating or surreal as The Big Lebowski. And quite frankly, the ending is sudden and boring.

The actors are fun to watch, George Clooney shows some range, especially when he’s getting pushed around by Josh Brolin. A couple other pleasant surprises include Tilda Swinton playing the smarmy twin writers modeled after Dear Abby / Ann Landers and Channing Tatum showing off his song and dance skills. The film has a helluva lineup featuring Ralph Fiennes, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Jonah Hill, and Alden Ehrenreich.

If you’re a Coen fan, you should probably give this a whirl and see what you think. If you’re not familiar with their work, don’t start with this one, there are better offerings from the Coens.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Burn After Reading

by on Jan.31, 2016, under Movie Reviews

burn after readingAnother installment in the Coen Brothers collection of films, Burn After Reading turns out to be their version of a spy film (of sorts, it is a Coen Bros. film after all). And since it’s a film by the brothers Coen, it’s got the rich, great characters you’ve come to present when they put their brains together and come up with another masterful piece to their body of work.

I will add that the film isn’t as dark and sinister as No Country for Old Men, nor is it quite as quirky as The Big Lebowski, Burn After Reading falls somewhere between the 2 in terms of it’s degree of both quirky and dark. Starting with the demotion of ex-CIA agent Osborne Cox (played by John Malkovich) while exposing the affair his wife is having and eventually intertwining with a blackmail scheme from a couple of bumbling gym-employees, the film is expertly woven together through the antics of some really rich, intriguing characters.

One of the things I love about Coen films is those unexpected out-of-nowhere moments. I won’t reveal any of them in this film because that’s part of the fun of the ride. But (SPOILER ALERT), a prime example from No Country for Old Men is when Woody Harrelson’s character gets shot by Javier Bardem. There are numerous moments like that in here, one surprisingly blunt and grisly. The style of the directors also doesn’t allow overuse of those sucker-punch moments but allows some building to take place beforehand so you don’t see them coming, and considering their infrequency you tend to appreciate them all the more.

The lineup is a laundry list of amazing talent who all just crush their roles. You can tell actors like working with these guys as the talent always brings it’s A game to their films. The impressive lineup includes: George Clooney, Frances McDormand, Brad Pitt, Tilda Swinton, Richard Jenkins, J.K. Simmons and Elizabeth Marvel.

If you’re a fan of the quirky, compelling work of the Coens, be sure to give Burn After Reading a viewing.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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The American

by on Feb.02, 2014, under Movie Reviews

This George Clooney thriller centers around an assassin trying to retire in order to pursue other goals. I don’t want to describe too much here as I think it’s a good film and should be seen. Suffice it to say that the writing is well done with a European influence that makes this familiar story fresh.

The style of the film is full of wide, cinematic shots and drawn out artistic pauses that keep the pacing interesting. The ending is intriguing as well with some nice twists along the way. It’s hard to be more descriptive as I’ll give too much away so forgive my vagueness.

Clooney delivers a tight performance and shows more range as a cold-blooded hired gun. Some moments of vulnerability are displayed between other, more intense exchanges. The rest of the cast is comprised of actors from Italy that all turn out passionate performances.

I really liked the director’s style. The major production companies in the US have certain ingredients that are often devices of major films. It’s refreshing to see a film like this that has a different set of standards and artistic devices.

The American comes highly recommended, check it out if you like thrillers.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Gravity

by on Nov.01, 2013, under Movie Reviews

It’s awesome, all across the board, just awesome. I saw it in IMAX 3D and would recommend doing the same if you can. Interestingly the filmmaker feels as though that would detract from the experience but I’m afraid I have to disagree on that notion…

The story is simple enough, a NASA crew is working on a shuttle in space, during their work they encounter a debris storm that’s orbiting the planet at a high rate of speed from a satellite that had blown apart and started a chain reaction. The overall situation turns out to not be so simple since the crew is now floating in space without a way back to Earth. Once the ride really gets going, it doesn’t relent much until the very end.

The effects are stunning, some of the best I’ve ever seen. I felt totally convinced they were in space the whole time, the film looked and felt totally realistic. The 3D added a nice dimensional touch and actually had me ducking my head involuntarily which rarely happens for me with 3D films. I usually avoid 3D since most of them suck with a few exceptions, this film being one of them.

The actors are outstanding, especially Sandra Bullock. George Clooney is his usual suave self but in an effective way that made his character pretty much instantly likeable. Ed Harris’ name is in the credits as well as one of the NASA staff on Earth.

I highly recommend seeing this, try to catch it in the theater if you can. The ride is intense.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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Batman & Robin

by on Aug.11, 2012, under Movie Reviews

Since I recently reviewed The Dark Knight Rises, which is being heralded as the pinnacle of the Dark Knight series and a brilliant conclusion to Chris Nolan’s epic trilogy, I thought I’d go in the opposite direction and review Batman and Robin.

Unfortunately, this particular film is considered the opposite to Nolan’s vision in many ways. Meaning, while his series is among the best comic book movies of all time, this particular installment in the series would be the worst. And when I say worst, I don’t mean just as a comic book movie, I mean one of the worst movies, ever.

Let’s break it down…

Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin is much more akin to the TV series from back in the day than it is like the current version. B&R is cheesy, has some of the hokey camera angles, and it looks like they raided the TV show’s set for some of the costume designs albeit slightly more modern. While the TV show had a campy charm, this just comes off cheesy in terms of design and presentation.

Then there’s the acting. Most of the actors put in performances that are just way over the top (see Uma Thurman as Poison Ivy) or patched together with constant one-liner moments (see Ahhh-nuld Schwarzengger as Mr. Freeze) that just don’t add anything other than empty catch-phrases to an already lame script. Clooney as Batman / Bruce Wayne just doesn’t work either. George Clooney is a good actor but is wasted here as he just sort of phones this one in and plays his standard George Clooney. No need to waste too much time typing out how bad Chris O’Donnell and Alicia Silverstone are, so I’ll stop there.

Soooo lame script, lame direction, lame acting, lame, lame, lame…

The only favorable comparison I can make between this version and The Dark Knight Rises is that they both have Batman and Bain. That’s about it. This best thing we can do is just continue to watch the Chris Nolan versions while we try to forget this one ever happened.

reviewed by Sean McKnight

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