Get Shorty (1995)


Directed by: Barry Sonnenfeld (I assure you, this is the best thing he has ever directed)

Written by: Scott Frank wrote the screenplay based on Elmore Leonard’s excellent book

Starring: John Travolta, Rene Russo, Gene Hackman, Danny DeVito, Dennis Farina, Delroy Lindo, James Gandolfini, Jon Gries, and David Paymer are the principles, but there are notable cameo or bit roles starring Bette Midler, Martin Ferrero, Miguel Sandoval, Jack Conley, Alex Rocco, Penny Marshall and Harvey Keitel.

What it’s about: a Miami shylock decides to get into the Los Angeles movie business

B-Movie Alternate Title: How I Got Into Hollywood!

Movie Mash Up: The Player + this – whatever ad plays at the beginning of that clip

What I liked: This may be the most perfect John Travolta role ever, if you don’t count Pulp Fiction.  He embodies Chili Palmer perfectly, there is no other way to describe it.  The rest of the casting is pretty great as well, to the point where you read the book and you cannot visualize Elmore Leonard’s descriptions of the characters because Russo, Hackman, etc. are the exact actors/actresses to play the parts.  It is a mostly faithful adaptation of the book.  So many great actors playing little parts in the movie, it’s like a time capsule of professionals before they caught their big break or some sort.  The nearly faithful adaptation cribs some of the best lines of the book, and the delivery of those lines, those scenes, they’re just electric.

What I disliked: The movie comes off as borderline satire, and yeah, Hollywood was in that sort of self-mockery stage back in 1995, but the book didn’t really have that vibe to it.  The fucking US3-inspired score is pretty terrible, 17 years later, much like how I imagine many people will feel when they hear the dubstep score in Total Recall 20 years down the line.  Some of the non-faithful-to-the-book scenes/characters don’t always work.  For example, Bette Midler’s character, the whole Harry Zimm (Gene Hackman) getting beaten up part, some timeline switches.  There was also some sort of .. I dunno, “dumbification” of Chili’s character at parts, or that’s just how Sonnenfeld told Travolta to play it, I dunno.   Those parts kinda grate on me.

Would I recommend it to anyone?: Sure, it is an enjoyable flick with some great scenes and lines.

Rating: 4 / 5

Maybe don't Google Image Search "get shorty gif" because porn

Maybe don’t Google Image Search “get shorty gif” because porn

Batman: Year One (2011)

Here is another in the DC Comics Animation Universe, which has contributed some great and some not-so-great straight-to-DVD animated features based on their comics.  I think the last Batman animated movie was the very uneven Batman: Gotham Knights, which had numerous characters telling their own tales of interactions with The Dark Knight.  It featured differing animation styles for each story and the effect was unique, but also jarring.  Thankfully, Batman: Year One goes with telling one tale, and it’s an almost perfect adaptation of the Frank Miller storyline depicting Batman’s first year on the job.

The animation style is just straight up gorgeous, dark, full of deep shadows and it is on a level higher than most of these animated movies that get shuttled out into movieplexes each week.  This is one movie that I will eventually purchase because I could see myself enjoying it over and over again.  It’s not just a Batman tale though, as even though it tells the origin of how Bruce Wayne / Batman (Ben McKenzie) came to be, it’s also the first year that Jim Gordon (Bryan Cranston) is in Gotham.  Also, Selina Kyle (Eliza Dushku) ditches prostitution and becomes Catwoman.  There’s a lot going on in this movie, and it is nearly seamless storytelling.  Joel Schmuacher could learn something from this movie.

It took me awhile to realise that yes, it was Walter White, Bryan Cranston from “Breaking Bad” as Jim Gordon and that is as perfect casting of Gordon as Gary Oldman is in the Christopher Nolan Batman movies.  Dushku is also perfect as Catwoman, and there are almost uniformly excellent vocal casting decisions throughout the movie.  My only quibble is that Ben McKenzie – Ryan from “The O.C.” – is Bruce Wayne / Batman.  I understand that yes, it is Batman’s first year on the job, etc. but McKenzie just doesn’t embody the menace of The Bat.

Other than that little detail, it’s flawless and if you’re a Batman fan, check it out.

4.5 / 5