Get Shorty (1995)

BECAUSE HE’S SHORT YOU IDIOT

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

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The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)

Who would have ever thought that the director of Predator would be able to pull off a classy remake of a Steve McQueen movie?  Not just a remake, but a remake where things are changed for modern audiences and it makes sense and actually benefits the finished product.  John McTiernan directed this movie based off of the original 1968 McQueen version, and changed the entire execution of the theft sequence to make it more palpable to people in these much more troubled times.  He’s also managed to make an elegant heist movie, a less dirty, Mamet-lite type film with a charismatic and attractive lead actor where throughout the entire movie you don’t really view him as the antagonist at all.  It’s not a monumental achievement or anything, but it’s noteworthy.

Pierce Brosnan stars as the titular character, a wealthy man who – to combat boredom, presumably – decides to start stealing art.  Not just art, but a Monet worth around $100-million.  Doing so attracts the attention of well, obviously the police, but an intelligent and ridiculously attractive insurance investigator, Catherine Banning (Rene Russo).  Banning knows he took the painting, Crown knows she knows, and the rest of the film is a dance, a tango where they give and take from one another in a battle of intellect and heart.

Yeah, I wax a bit romantic on the film making choices that McTiernan makes, but it works so well.  It doesn’t hurt that Brosnan is clearly a handsome man that exudes class, and that audiences would have a hard time ever rooting against the man.  Russo is at her slinky, sexy best in this film, one that gives us a glimpse, well LONG lingering stares more like, of just how attractive she truly is.  It’s a wonderful movie, no one gets hurt, and we all have a good time.

4 / 5

Thor (2011)

With The Avengers having recently been released, I thought it would be a great idea to look back on all the Marvel Cinematic Universe films that have been released (read: search engine optimization).  The only one that I’ve already reviewed is Captain America so feel free to go back and read that one after reading this stirring bit of literature I’m probably not going to provide you with here.

Of all the Marvel movies that have been made and were rumoured to be being made, I thought that Thor would have been the hardest sell to mainstream movie audiences.  I don’t know much about the comic book version of the character, other than he fucking bored me.  I didn’t expect the cinematic interpretation of the Norse mythology behind the character to be anything even remotely approaching interesting.  And then a funny thing happened: Kenneth Branagh was named as the director and I thought to myself that at the very least, it’s going to be high quality boredom.  I just wasn’t expecting a movie that was a fun popcorn summer blockbuster, but that’s exactly what Branagh delivered.

Of course, all the directing miracles in the world wouldn’t be able to save a Thor movie if the actor playing Thor was completely unsuited for the part (I’d use Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze from Batman & Robin as an example but fuck that, that movie had more problems than just one miscast).  Thankfully, Chris Hemsworth got the part (and doubly thankful that Triple H didn’t), and as a heterosexual male, even I had to admit that dude was ripped.  He was Thor.  He also had a weird Heath Ledger in 10 Things I Hate About You accent going on for the whole movie, which was somewhat disorienting, but whatever, he was great.

Honestly, the entire movie was pretty great all around, visually stunning, great casting, super performances and a surprising amount of fun.  I might have truly loved it if I was completely familiar with Asgaardian stories and such, but let me just give it a solid thumbs up mark.

4 / 5