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Magnolia

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Magnolia is Paul Thomas Anderson’s 1999 tale of nine peoples lives and how they intersect on one day in the San Fernando Valley. Similar to his pornographic epic Boogie Nights Magnolia is an expertly made group character study that follows a fantastic cast of unique and interesting characters. Allow me to run down the characters that this movie has.

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Frank T.J. Mackey: A sort-of motivational speaker that teaches men how to get women to sleep with them. Frank is played by Tom Cruise in what I would call his best performance. Cruise’s eccentricity that is shown through his character is fantastic and at some times hilarious. This role requires cruise to take on the full range of emotions from weeping over his past, to a still hostility when being questioned, to a rapidly energetic and charismatic speaker when on stage, and he manages to do all of this expertly.
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Quiz Kid Donny Smith: A successful kid who won 100,000 dollars on a quiz show in the sixties has amounted to a failing electronics salesman who was only hired for his celebrity. With a life that is going nowhere and a failed career Donnie Smith doesn’t know where to go. His section of the story consists of him being fired, him talking to an older man at a bar, and him trying to steal money from the people who fired him. William H. Macy is excellent in his portrayal of this just defeated, depressed and frustrated man.
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Earl Partridge: Earl Partridge played by Jason Robards is a wise old man with a regret-filled life. While dying of lung cancer Earl is taken care of by his nurse Phil and his trophy wife Linda. As an abandoning father and an unfaithful husband Earl has learned his share of lessons that are shown through this film. His movements and his overall demeanor are perfect for a dying man and Jason Robards plays the part perfectly.
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Linda Partridge: Julianne Moores performance as Linda Partridge may be described as over-the-top by some, but to me it was necessary to show the anguish her character was going through. As the trophy wife of a dying man Linda is a bad place which is made worse by her growing love for a man whom she originally married for the money. This progressive breakdown makes for some of the greatest scenes of the film.
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Stanley Spector: Kind of like the quiz kid in his prime Stanley is the smartest of three kids who are close to breaking a record on the game show “What Do Kids Know?”. The majority of this performance takes place on the set of the show where he answers the few questions immediately and correctly until he has to go to the bathroom. After the supposed stage manager refuses to let him go he is silent for the entirety of the show until an epic speech. This means his performance is mainly in his expressions. He is excellent in his role and creates a very memorable final exchange with his father.
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Phil Parma: Philip Seymour Hoffman is always excellent. In this role he plays a young nurse who desperately attempts to fulfill Earl’s dying wish. Philip’s performance is fantastic especially his emotion in the final few scenes that have him.
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I would just like to say that I am refraining from saying much about the story-line so I don’t give anything away.
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Jimmy Gator: Jimmy Gator is the host of “What Do Kids Know?” and he is dying of cancer. His physical degradation is witnessed as his time on screen progresses. Philip Baker Hall is spectacular as a man who has learned a lot through is life and is just trying to get everything to work before he dies.
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Claudia Gator: The daughter of Jimmy, Claudia hates her father and refuses to be a part of his life. Her life is pretty awful since most of her time you see her as an emotional wreck with a cocaine addiction. Melora Walters takes this insanity, you could say, and turns it into a fantastic character and an excellent performance.
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Officer Jim Kurring: Ah, remember when John C Reilly was still an actor? I sure do. Johns performance is fantastic as an awkward police officer who is the most straight shooting character in the movie. He hates bad language, he is a devout christian, and he is just like the most “good guy” good guy that there has ever been, if that makes any sense.
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There you go. All of the real main characters. Hopefully thats acts as I hoped and is a sort of summary and as an explanation of how fantastic the characters and the performances are, as well as showing just how interesting the whole thing is.
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The writing and the direction is supplied by a modern-day master, Paul Thomas Anderson who creates a flowing portrait of interesting lives and how not everything is just “a matter of chance”
10/10
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Posted by on January 22, 2012 in Reviews

 

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows

Welcome to Part two of the Guy Ritchie Double Feature!

If you missed the first part, my review of Snatch, just look at the previous post.

Now Onto:

Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows:

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I am going to make this review very brief so I’m going to just get to the point much quicker than the one for Snatch. First of all this film focuses on Holmes discovering the motives and later actions of his nemesis and intellectual equal Professor Moriarty. Rather than the first film which focused on sorcery this focuses on the politics of the villains decisions and it makes for a much more intriguing story line than the first in my opinion.

When you throw two of my favorite actors together in the same movie it’s most likely going to be a  good film with good performances all around. That is exactly what is done here. Robert Downey Jr. is back and better than ever as the brilliant detective Holmes, and Jude Law is back as his friend and side kick Dr. Watson. Both of them play the hell out of their parts and the result is great. You have the same hilarity as the first when it comes to their interactions, and that humor is well balanced with the actual story side of it. Accompanying them are a few new characters including Jared Harris as Professor Moriarty and Noomi Rapace as the gypsy Simza Heron. Along with them is the one and only Stephen Fry. I get that I said Downey and Law played the hell out of their parts but Fry took it to the next level and you can tell he enjoyed it. Great performances all around.

Back to Guy Ritchie. To anyone who has seen the first Sherlock Holmes film the scenes that you most likely think of are the analysis scenes of Holmes’ fights where he goes through, step by step, and explains what he will do. Those scenes are back and better than before in this new installment. In fact, along with being great simply by his explanations, the way Ritchie utilizes them in one of the final scenes is nothing short of brilliant. The master Storyteller is at it again.

The Verdict:

8/10

Solid Film. If you like Ritchie you’ll love the film and if you like the actors you’ll love the film.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Double Feature, Reviews

 
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Hello everybody. Today I am going to be reviewing two Guy Ritchie films that I’ve seen in the past two days, Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, and Snatch.

Lets start out with Snatch:

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Let me start off by saying that I love Guy Ritchie films, with my favorite of them being Snatch. Snatch has a large variety of very interesting and unique characters who are written and acted to perfection. Jason Statham, Brad Pitt, Benecio Del Toro and more start in this beautifully crafted crime thriller.

Where do you start when trying to explain Snatch? There are so many aspects of this film that deserve to be recognized, so lets start off with a summary of the very hard to follow plot. As I said above, all of these characters are perfect, both from the standpoints of writing and acting they are executed brilliantly. Late begin with the two that are closest to being the main characters: Turkish (Jason Statham) and Tommy. These two are business partners who work in illegal boxing which is how they are introduced to all of the other characters and how the plot progresses. Their part of the film begins with Tommy going to purchase a caravan from a group of Pikees. Pikees in this film are basically gypsies who live in campsites. When Tommy arrives at the site he is ripped off by Mickey O’neil (Played by the always brilliant Brad Pitt) and agrees to a bet. If Tommy’s boxer Gorgeous George can beat Mickey in a fight then they’ll get their money back. After getting in the ring George hits Mickey a few times until Mickey hits him once and hospitalizes him. With George out of the picture Turkish and Tommy need a new fighter unless they want to get into trouble with the clearly psychopathic Brick Top(Alan Ford). They get Mickey to replace their fighter but he doesn’t throw the fight like he was supposed to so he has to fight again. For their part of the story line that is where I am going to stop the summary.

I am going to make the other part of the story very brief considering the length of what I just wrote. Franky Four-Fingers (Benecio Del Toro) is a diamond thief who stole an 84 karat diamond that he is transporting from London to New York so he can sell it there. He is planning on selling it to Doug the Head and Cousin Avi but he is stopped by russians who are trying to get the diamonds for themselves. After realizing this Avi hires a hit-man to help him get Franky back.

That is all as the brief summary.

What makes this movie so excellent? Well, first of all, and I think this is the third time that I am saying it but the characters are so perfect in every way. The true standouts in the film are Brad Pitt as the vengeful, fast-talking pikee, and Vinnie Jones as the hit-man, Bullet-Tooth Tony: “Why do they call him Bullet-Tooth? He got shot six times, had the bullet melted down and put into teeth”. As for the rest of the ensemble they are all great as well. Not only are the performances great but the chemistry between characters makes it believable and hilarious.

Of course, behind all of the actors and the characters there is a master story-teller, and that man is Guy Ritchie. Guy Ritchie is a master of dialogue, subtle humor, and excellent, interesting ways to show scenes. A perfect example of this is the opening scene which has Benecio Del Toro and three other thieves dressed as old school jewish men. Their entire ascent from the time they walk into the building up until they enter the floor they rob is shown by having the camera go from screen to screen showing the vantage points of security cameras and it is so well done. Another thing that he does well is the ending. On my first viewing of it I did not see that coming at all and I loved it. The way all of the stories fit together at the end is perfect.

The Verdict:

So good. Oh so good. Watch it right now. What? You don’t have access to it right now? Watch it anyway. It’s that good.

10/10

Look for Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows In the next post.

Snatch.

 
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Posted by on December 19, 2011 in Double Feature, Reviews