Posts Tagged ‘Movie’

Cohen goes ultra-offensive with “Bruno”

July 20, 2009


Rated R : 1 hour 23 minutes : Universal Pictures

At the time actor/screenwriter Sacha Baron Cohen and director Larry Charles were into principal photography for the 2006 film, Borat, I assume that it was much easier to “dupe” unsuspecting people into the trickery that took place in that hysterical comedy masterpiece. I say easier because four years ago Cohen was a considerably lesser-known face in film, let alone comedy; with only die hard fans of his television show able to point him and his characters out. He used America’s unfamiliarity with him to his full humurous advantage in every nook and cranny of Borat, and we all laughed. So three years have came and went, and he has sky-rocketed into mainstream popularity with the help of other films as well, such as Talladega Nights, and Sweeney Todd. Whether you love his style of comedy or hate it, (because there is no in-between) one thing is for sure: you will forever remember the trademark face and antics of Cohen and his creations. For that reason alone, I would think the production of Cohen’s next full-length film, Bruno, would have been a million times harder to mold together with realistic trickery. I guess it must have just came down to he, Charles, and a large team of researches/investigators/assistants finding certain areas of the world that are populated with people who still would have no idea who Cohen really is and what he is up to. Seeing the finished product of Bruno led me to believe that they succeeded very highly again, and for what I assume has got to be the final time.

Cohen wastes no time with letting the audience know that the Austrian fashionista, Bruno, is going to be far more shocking than Borat could ever even dream of being. In his home country he hosts a television show and frequently declares himself “the face of Austrian fashion”, but his longtime successful run in the business is put to a shameful end when his velcro-suit invention backfires on him at a major fashion show, and he must flee out of country in hopes to regain face and stardom elsewhere. With only his “assistant to his assistant”, Lutz, still vowing to stay by his side, Bruno heads to America in hopes of making a television show and being the greatest gay interviewer in the history of the country. Needless to say, this instigates some outrageous interactions with well-known American faces, such as Paula Abdul, Harrison Ford, and even Ron Paul, who is so genuinely frightened and disgusted by the advances of Bruno that the sequence alone becomes worth the price of admission. It would be insane and downright disrespectful to go into details about just what kinds of tricks Cohen has up his sleeve this time around, so I will only say that if you were worried that he might not have it in him to make as effective an experience as he did three years ago in Borat (I had my doubts, I’m not going to lie), you will be pleasantly relieved within seconds of this film beginning.

There are many more appearances by celebrities in this film than I thought there would be (and even a ridiculous collection of artists joining Bruno for a send-off song in the finale) but what remains Cohen’s bread and butter is his selection of which pedestrians to take advantage of and make feel extremely uncomfortable. When Bruno visits a gay converter in Alabama there are moments of comic bliss, but what had me rolling as much as even the best scenes in Borat, were when he decides to attend a swinger party…or, more accurately: a heterosexual swinger party. Overall it makes complete and obvious sense to why Cohen decided to bring us Borat followed by Bruno, because the former was a perfect way to blast us with unexpected brilliance, and then when he had to one-up himself with shock value he could bring out the extremely flamboyant homosexual acts of Bruno. It all works extremely well and was the worth the wait, even though it wasn’t quite as perfect as Borat. One thing is certain: barring a miracle, this is going to be the last time Cohen will be able to pull off realistic antics like this on such a massive scale. What a nice send-off to a unique comedic genre.

star_ratings_image3 and a half

Cast
Sacha Baron Cohen
Gustaf Hammarsten
Written by
Sacha Baron Cohen
Anthony Hines
Dan Mazer
Jeff Schaffer
Directed by
Larry Charles

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HOW TO SAY GOODBYE.

June 4, 2009

My new film, How To Say Goodbye, is now available to see in its 95-minute entirety. It is separated into 13 parts and has its own page right here on this blog. Just click the page link right on top if you wish to watch. The months of April and May were two long and stressful ones, but necessary nonetheless, as I made the important effort to officially bury the past.

I Have No Explanation.

April 1, 2009

There Is No “Doubt” That This Is A Lesson In Acting

January 5, 2009

Primarily a writer, (whether it be films or plays) Oscar-winner, John Patrick Shanley (Best Original Screenplay for 1987’s Moonstruck) had only directed one of his own scripts before this year’s Doubt, which was the oddball romantic comedy, Joe Versus The Volcano. He has had many ups and downs throughout his career, but it is certain that he has remained true to being a daring original writer, and when he’s on he is spot-on. His new film, the aforementioned, Doubt, is his first directing gig in 18 years. I can only assume that he has chosen to direct here primarily because he knows the material better than anyone, and it’s probably such a piece that he holds dear that he wouldn’t want to give it to anyone else in the possibility that they could mistreat it and not do it cinematic justice. He won multiple awards for the play of the same name, most notably the Pulitzer Prize; and watching the film it is easy to understand why such acclaim has made its way to this fascinating material.

Shanley’s story is set in 1964 at a Catholic School in the Bronx, where signs of modern education and leniency are beginning to make their way into this particular establishment, among other things; and they are all about to meet their clashing match in Sister Aloysius. Meryl Streep gives one of the most impressive performances of her storied and legendary career as Aloysius, a nun who has built a reputation over decades of being as strict a principal as they come, keeping the ever-rotating student body in line and then some. Philip Seymour Hoffman plays Father Flynn, the recently-appointed priest to the school whose ideas and suggestions for new advancements and changes in the system of education are inevitably going to rub on Aloysius the wrong way. The Sister will stay out of Flynn’s way as much as she can, though, in respect of the hierarchy in which he stands. However, after letting a recent sermon by Flynn  focusing on the effect of doubt in a world of certainty, fill her mind with various thoughts, she decides to begin a relentless campaign to uncover what she believes to be ungodly behavior beneath Flynn’s exterior.

Addressing her concerns with the rest of the nuns, and in particular Sister James, Aloysius paves a road powered by what is at first certainty but later fueled by what could possibly be a delusion-filled power-trip. The entire experience is weaved so masterfully by Shanley, and along with the brilliant cinematographer, Roger Deakins, this is one of the most successful play-to-film adaptations to have come out. The climax of the film is in the confrontations between Aloysius and Flynn, but to desire a concrete resolution is to ultimately let the point of it all fly right by your head. Whether or not the molestation accusations by the Sisters come to be true or false is not really a matter to the power of the film at all, but only the battle of stands attempting to be held down by each of these individuals. This is a film that whatever your thoughts on it, like it or hate it, you will not be able to deny that it contains some of the most scintillating acting you will ever see in your lifetime. Every year there is one standout film that you can instantly feel that script-to-actor is perfectly cast. Last year it was Tony Gilroy’s Michael Clayton, and there is no questioning that Doubt takes that title in 2008.

4 STARS

Cast
Meryl Streep
Philip Seymour Hoffman
Amy Adams
Viola Davis

Based on the Play “Doubt: A Parable” by
John Patrick Shanley

Written For the Screen and Directed by
John Patrick Shanley

Del Toro and Perlman Bring “Hellboy” Back With A Vengeance

November 9, 2008


PG-13, 120 minutes, Universal Pictures

With each passing summer season, and especially over the course of this current decade, Hollywood has made it their mission to unleash as many sequels as American audiences can handle, and then some. It’s almost as if each movie studio is in a weightlifting competition that lasts during one season every year, and the ones falling at the bottom of the box-office bin one year, begin to look for ways in the off-season (fall/winter) to pump enough steroids into their onslaught of blockbusters to make a comeback. It’s all about the money, and in sequels they obviously find their biggest avenue for profits – because no matter how ludicrous, pointless, or flat-out awful the idea of certain sequels are, the majority of people are going to pay $10 to go see them. Anyway, where I’m going with this is that the reasons for making sequels in today’s world of cinema have ultimately become up to the studios themselves, even if there is clearly nowhere else more interesting to go with a certain subject, characters, etc. There are very few that can put anticipation into a thinking audience member’s mind, to make us get excited about wanting to invest more of our time and presence in the progression of certain matter.

What was extremely impressive about the summer of 2008 was the amount of anticipation that I felt for the arriving sequels, and for good reason. All of the original cast and crew were coming back for the two most significant sequels of the year, both Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, and Guillermo Del Toro’s Hellboy II: The Golden Army. Both of those directors put such a stamp on the film’s before their follow-ups, that if they were to not be at the helm for the next addition it would be utterly pointless to green-light into production. It’s obvious that Del Toro’s comic book character (and film, for that matter) is on much more of a small scale than anything in the Batman world, so in a way Hellboy II could appear to be an independent Hollywood blockbuster when sized up against The Dark Knight. This doesn’t make Del Toro’s film any less grand. In fact, when we’re talking about film-making on a grand scale, especially when it comes to creatures, makeup, art direction, costume design, etc. – is there really anyone working today that can match Del Toro? I would have to say no, and that he is in a class of his own.  With that being said, his sequel here is an enormously entertaining experience, surrounding Hellboy’s world with an even bigger world of unique creatures that exist exclusively in the mind of the director himself. He packs the kind of deserving wallop that needs to come with a second film in a franchise, upping pretty much everything on the majestic end of his style, with no holding back. But unlike Sam Raimi’s disastrous attempt to pack Spider-Man 3 tight with a ton of different things, Del Toro orchestrates his world from potential madness into beauty. His films are wonderful to admire, to see multiple times in an effort to take in all of the gorgeous images.

Ron Perlman once again proves to the world that it’s not always necessary to cast a million-dollar man in a main superhero role like this, and he plays the part with such a balance of sarcastic tones, inner doubt, and just plain confidence, that it’s impossible to imagine anyone else doing it now. The original Hellboy was a fascinating experience and one that I didn’t think Del Toro could top with the sequel, and although I don’t really consider The Golden Army a better film than its predecessor, I cannot say it’s any less of a film. the cast is having an even bigger ball together here, and the script calls for it. There are love triangles that emerge in unexpected places, which prove to be the most intriguing thing about the film in my opinion, even with the spectacular action sequences – which there are plenty of and will not disappoint. Just like the first installment of this franchise, it comes within inches to complete perfection. I had a terrific time watching this film, as I always do with any Guillermo Del Toro film.

9.5/10