The Functional Hermit

musings from a homebody

Posts Tagged ‘Don Cheadle

Hermit Cinema: Iron Man 2

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The first Iron Man laid down all the groundwork for a successful franchise. Director John Favreau and most of the cast return which gave me hope. I’m sorry to say that Iron Man 2 blew that all to hell.

Robert Downey Jr. perfected Tony Stark as an arrogant yet charming playboy. In the sequel, he really only comes across as arrogant. Pepper Potts (Gwynneth Paltrow) plays less of a role here so that Scarlett Johanssen can run around in a skin-tight suit. Don Cheadle replaces Terrance Howard in the military pal role. Mickey Rourke is introduced as a new villain in a plot so thin, if you put it in some olive oil it would liquify in the pan å la Goodfellas.

This movie was such a disappointment it really doesn’t deserve any more of a writeup. It is watchable. But little else. Take a pass unless you’re bored.

I give this movie a D-plus.




Written by the bee dub

November 3, 2010 at 10:24 am

Happy July 4th: 10 DVD’s that define Americana

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This is a bit early but I figured, why not get an early jump on the holiday weekend? This is by no means a list of the best or my favorite movies. Instead, it’s a group of movies with themes that are uniquely American. In no particular order…

LA Confidential – Greed. Power. Celebrity. Desire. Ambition. Corruption. Justice. The timeless themes of this Curtis Hanson directed-movie represent an oversimplified list of has, does and will continue to drive America. The period details are flawless. Guy Pearce, Russell Crowe and Kevin Spacey couldn’t be better.

Bull Durham – America’s Pastime, as seen via a 21 year old comedy that doesn’t at all feel out of place today. Still the best performances of Kevin Costner’s and Tim Robbins’ careers. Men will always want to act like boys, it’s in our DNA. The movie is a love letter for baseball, both the joy it provides and the heartbreak when taken away.

The Big Lebowski – Not everyone’s American dream is to work very, very hard so they can afford a big house, a big car and all the other trappings of success. Some people’s American dream is to simply spark up a J and abide…if they could only be left alone to do it. The plot here barely makes any sense and it makes no difference. Just ride along this Coen Brothers masterpiece with the Dude (Jeff Bridges), Walter (John Goodman) and their nearly-mute companion Donnie (Steve Buscemi) as they try to get justice for the Dude’s soiled rug.

Wall Street – The diametrically opposed summation of everything Lebowski is about. As Americans, we are trained to strive for success and wealth but at what cost? Charlie Sheen and Michael Douglas shine in this 1987 Oliver Stone morality tale that might be even more relevant today, if that’s possible. This is the movie that injected the words, “Greed is good,” into the American psyche. I’ll never forget Sheen’s Bud Fox, right before meeting Douglas’ Gordon Gekko for the first time, saying into a mirror, “Life all comes down to a few moments. This is one of those moments.” Too true, Bud…

Black Hawk Down – In today’s climate, America is often dealt the hand of playing policeman to the world. Most modern military engagements of the last fifteen years have taught us that the criteria for defining winners and losers have changed greatly since those of the 20th Century. This movie recreates what ended up being a hugely influential loss in terms of American foreign and military policy. It also spells out why these men fight; not to advance any kind of political agency but rather to simply protect the man next to them.

No Country for Old Men – Times change, not always for the better. In another picece of Coen Brothers handiwork, Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) stumbles onto a drug deal gone bad with no survivors, just a satchel full of cash. Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem, playing arguably the most memorable villain in movie history) is a hitman sent to recover the money. Sheriff Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) is an old-school type trying to make sense of it all. It becomes clear to Bell that he’s witnessing a level of violence and ruthlessness he’s not witnessed before, a sure sign that perhaps it’s time for him to step aside. Progress isn’t always pretty.

Magnolia – Can you ever really escape your family? Or your desire to be part of one? Dysfunction becomes a main character in PT Anderson’s sprawling three-hour tale following the lives of several different people around Los Angeles. Here Tom Cruise shines (his finest performance in my opnion) as Frank TJ Mackey, a man who teaches shy men how to, “Tame the cunt!” He’s the estranged son of a very successful but dying Earl Partridge (Jason Robards), who is married to the cheating but repentant Linda (Julianne Moore) and being cared for by male nurse Phil Parma (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), who tries to reunite father and son. Meanwhile, Officer John Kurring (John C. Reilley) is a lonely soul who feels a connection to Claudia (Melora Walters), a cocaine-sniffing woman battling the demons of sexual abuse by her father, Jimmy Gator (Phillip Baker Hall), a successful game show host. Stanley Spector (Jeremy Blackman) is a child prodigy making a historic run as a contestant on the show and Donnie Smith (William H. Macy) is a former winner of the show who can’t move on from his very brief childhood stardom. Confused? You should be. Just hit the play button and hold on for one intense ride.

Zodiac – As far as serial killers go, America is the clear World Champion. I had a hard time picking the one movie to represent this American phenomenon. David Fincher’s Zodiac stuck out as the movie of choice because it’s like a giant puzzle that never gets solved. To me, that’s a great analogy for the serial killer. Even if they’re caught, even if they’re completely psychologically profiled, no one can ever truly understand why they do what they do.

Traffic – A high-powered, all-star ensemble cast (Michael Douglas, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Don Cheadle, Benicio Del Toro, Luiz Guzman, Topher Grace, Erika Christensen and several others) all hit their roles out of the park in this Steven Soderbergh masterpiece. Drugs and people’s desire to consume them have been constant since the formation of the very first society. Today, they’re illegal. Should they be? Should the folks addicted to them be treated as criminals or as people with a sickness? How ruthless do you have to be to run and protect a drug empire? What does it take to take one down? There are no easy answers. There may be no complicated, difficult answers either. Instead, there are real people getting caught up on every conceivable side of the multi-faceted War on Drugs.

The Candidate – Robert Redford stars in the 1972 piece as Bill McKay, the activist son of a prominent politician who becomes a ‘sacrificial lamb’ candidate in a race he cannot possibly win. American politics, as seen here, is nothing but an adversarial process to be won or lost, regardless of message. The classic line, after he does indeed prevail, “What do we do now?” His campaign manager (Peter Boyle) offers no answers. After all, the campaign manager’s job is indeed finished.

Hermit Cinema: Traitor

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This is a movie that I got really interested in when I saw the trailer I saw in the theater, but then never really heard much about once it came out. I’m guessing it didn’t have a very long run in your local cineplex.

When I saw that it was out on DVD I jumped right on it. I wouldn’t call this a great movie by any means. But it is certainly solidly entertaining for a thriller type of movie. There are a few twists I didn’t see coming and my biggest gripe would be that everything kind of gets tied up a little too neatly at the end. They do try to, though, portray things as messy. I’m guessing that’s the point – if there is one – they’re trying to make, in that the war on terror is never going to be as black and white as people want.

Don Cheadle plays Samir Horn, a former Special Operations soldier who goes off the grid after a tour or two in Afghanistan. The authorities are guessing he’s gone over to the terrorists’ side. Guy Pearce plays the FBI agent who pursues him along with Neal McDonough’s character – a not-too-bright sort who has an oversimplified, good versus bad worldview.

Don Cheadle is completely underrated as an actor. He’s always good as is Guy Pearce, who does a good job portraying a man who knows there’s always another side to a story. Neal McDonough’s portrayal is a little two dimensional but effective. I don’t think he gets enough juicy roles. If you ever watch Band of Brothers, you know how good he can be.

Things for Samir Horn are very complicated as he negotiates his way into a terror cell while also being pursued by American intelligence, who might be behind it all anyway.

Reading the premise, you probably know what’s what. But I will tell you that I found this movie to be a good thriller even if it does feel a little more predictable than it actually is. (Spoiler alert: What he decides to do about the big terror attack was completely unpredictable to me.) It’s very well acted and the action is very well-directed.

I’d give it a solid B minus.

Written by the bee dub

February 3, 2009 at 1:56 pm

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