Thursday, January 28, 2016


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Whoa, this screenshot makes the movie look
WAY crazier than it actually is
By the late 90’s Sean Connery was starting to get old.  And what I mean by that is the way he moved on screen.  He had visibly looked like an old man at least since the early 80’s.  But what I’m talking about is his ability to convince you that he could pull off the action sequences in his films.  And in 1999 he seemed too old to make you think he could genuinely do the shit you see on camera.  He was never the most agile guy but miraculously he looked mostly capable in The Rock a few years earlier.  I honestly don’t know how to account for that (editing?  How he was shot?).  But anyway, why am I bringing this up?  Because Connery’s lack of believability adds a level of humor to Entrapment that makes for a better watch than would otherwise be the case.

This aging grandpa thief, Mac, pulling jobs off with the hot young up-and-comer, Gin (Catherine Zeta-Jones (The Phantom)), with the two sorta falling in love (more on that in a minute) isn’t charming or convincing.  But it sure is fun, ridiculous, kinda dumb and even a little funny (unintentionally however). 

Their escapades around the globe only increase in scope as the movie progresses.  Gin starts off by stealing a Rembrandt in a NYC high rise, then the two team up to steal a bejeweled mask in Scotland and finally they plan to nab eight billion dollars from a bank in Malaysia.  Of course the multi-billion dollar heist is the most spectacular by having it take place on the eve of the new millennium and in the largest building(s) in the world at the time, the Petronas Towers.  As I’m sure anyone can predict, things go sideways and the two thieves have to run all around the towers and evade a swat team in order to escape.

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Even this screengrab supposes this thing
has more style than it really does
And throughout all of it Connery looks like a lost man that can’t quite keep up with what’s happening around him.  Make no mistake that the movie tries its hardest to assure you that Connery has still got the touch but that only makes his senior age more apparent.  Like when he drinks his scotch he does it in one big gulp or he’s able to disappear impossibly fast without anyone seeing or hearing him like Batman or some shit.  He couldn’t just be a wise old thief that gives guidance or whose physical abilities are minimized.  No, he had to be on top of his game, mentally as well as physically.  But I’m glad they didn’t scale Connery back because it looks so silly.  I kinda love it.

At least the filmmakers knew where to mostly draw the line when it came to getting romantically involved with Catherine Zeta-Jones.  Connery is thirty nine years older than Zeta-Jones (69 vs 30 at the time) and it very much shows.  So to curtail this plot point they have Gin fall in love with Mac and want to fuck him but Mac refuses.  You know, it’s pretty lame that they couldn’t just have a professional working relationship where they both respect and admire each other and the sexual tension is left out.  Not every action/adventure/thriller needs to have a romantic aspect.  This one definitely didn’t.

And before we get off the topic of sex the filmmakers do tend to ogle Zeta-Jones all throughout the picture.  There are two scenes of her lying totally naked in bed and there are those infamous shots of her ass as she does her laser-dodging routine.  Even Mac gives an audible “mmm” to himself as he watches.  They do not give Connery the same treatment by the way.  No camera is all over his ass in tight spandex. 

The actual heist sequences are amusing with plenty of outrageous crap that you pretty much have to accept or futilely fight against.  Yea they got implausible doohickeys for everything and their schemes to pinch the goods are either absurdly simple (it only takes twenty four hours to come up with and execute a plan to rob eight billion dollars) or absurdly complicated (moving blindly through a large room filled with dozens of invisible laser beams to steal a mask).

In terms of tone this is family friendly action adventure.  Even though Mac is an asshole to Gin half the time he’s got a heart of gold and Gin is eager to get involved and start stealing shit.  Body count is zero with almost no one getting injured.  Writing that last sentence seems odd because it doesn’t feel as light weight as that when you’re watching it.

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There we go, that's more like it
Like the two main characters in the film Connery and Zeta-Jones were at the same respective points in their acting careers.  Entrapment was the third to last thing Connery did while this was the first starring feature for Zeta-Jones.  Now neither one does a particularly good job but surprisingly Zeta-Jones is the one that feels more off.  She plays it too perky and amateurish.  I thought she did fine in The Mask of Zorro the year before so I’m not sure what happened here.  She’s very giddy, whiny and borderline immature at times.  She does not convey the image of a larger than life master thief in the slightest.  But if you combine that with some other dumb aspects of the picture it becomes one more thing to marvel and laugh at.

I like this movie.  It has a sense of adventure which I dig, moreover the globetrotting, Connery himself and the scope of the robberies makes the film feel big which is definitely a plus in this case.  If you like your movies on the dumb side sometimes you’ll probably get a kick out of this.

Oh and in case you were wondering, entrapment never actually takes place in the film.  Everyone does what they want of their own accord and no one is tricked into committing an act they weren’t going to go through with anyway.

One more interesting thing of note, this is rated PG-13 but there are actually two “fucks” said here.  Both are uttered by Ving Rhames (ThePeople Under the Stairs) and that second one technically should’ve bumped this up to R.  Other than that this feels PG-13 all the way.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Mish Mash 9 (A Perfect Murder, Weekend at Bernie’s Music, Die Hard 2, Temple of Doom & Young Sherlock Holmes, Uncle Buck “Dildo”)

A Perfect Murder

Image result for a perfect murder 1998I’ve always enjoyed this 1998 remake of Dial M for Murder.  Michael Douglas (The Jewel of the Nile) is superb as always, Gwyneth Paltrow (Malice) is well cast as the ditsy but mostly innocent wife and Viggo Mortensen (G.I. Jane) may be monotone here but has good presence and you can tell there’s a nice healthy layer of scumbag just under the surface.  Dial M is the better film but A Perfect Murder is kinda more entertaining and so for me falls into the category of movies that aren’t better than the original (or first installment, if a sequel) but would rather see over the original most times.

Anyway, what I really wanted to bring up is how Gwyneth in this picture is the most unlucky woman in the world.  She not only married a total piece of shit (Douglas) who can’t manage his finances and wants to murder his wife, but she also falls in love with some asshole that’s playing her for her money.  Ok, yes, she fooled around on her husband which she probably shouldn’t have done but the fact remains that the two main men in her life want to kill her and steal her dough.  That’s a pretty shitty situation to be in.
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Even if you take out the cheating aspect Michael Douglas was probably gonna try to have her offed anyway.  He was on the brink of financial ruin so he was gonna find a way to get to his wife’s money.  And murder is his only option if he wants it all.

It’s a solid thriller.  Not anything great but I’d still recommend it.   

Weekend at Bernie’s Music
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Andy Summers, guitarist from The Police, wrote a song called “Hot & Cold” (performed by Jermaine Stewart) which featured in Weekend at Bernie’s.  I couldn’t find out if it was written specifically for the film or not but this single inclusion landed a “Music By” credit for Andy Summers in the movie.

I guess I’m bringing this up because it’s not just a weird credit for anyone of any stature to have (although I would gladly have my name presented for any credit on Bernie’s I or II) but it’s also not very accurate.  The soundtrack is made up of a collection of pop tunes and not original songs written for the picture by Andy Summers or anyone else.  I wonder if Andy ever got shit for that movie’s gross exaggeration.

Die Hard 2

Dies Hard 2 is a helluva lot of fun.  It’s definitely dumber than its predecessor and successor (for the most part anyway) but still offers a great time all around.  And watching the movie this time made me really appreciate the little touches that are sprinkled throughout.  Here are a few I’d like to comment on:

McClane gets hit on by the rental car chick.  Why did the filmmakers feel the need to throw that in the picture?  It’s never established that McClane cheats on his wife or even thought about cheating on his wife so there isn’t some character struggle that he has to overcome on top of the terrorist plot.  It seems they just wanted to acknowledge Willis as a sex symbol within the movie for some odd reason.  I dunno.

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The introduction of Colonel Stuart (William Sadler (Rush)) doing naked martial arts alone in his hotel room right before he does some terrorizing.  I don’t think I need to elaborate on that.

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It may not seem obvious at first but a lot of innocent people die in this movie.  I think that’s because there are only two scenes where this occurs and they’re spaced out pretty far apart.  The first is that old proprietor of the church that Colonel Stuart and his men take over for their base of operations.  The second is an entire fucking plane completely full of people.  We’re talking about a minimum of two hundred people who get murdered here, probably more like three to four hundred.  Shit man.

There’s that moment after McClane takes out a slew of terrorists at the Annex Skywalk and the villainous Colonel Stuart calls the control tower, including Fred Thompson (In the Line of Fire), to discipline them.  During this dialogue Thompson has the line, saying quietly to himself, “try me face to face and we’ll see”.  I guess either the filmmakers or Thompson felt the character needed to appear a little tougher and threw in that line?  I like it because even though the bad guys don’t hear his jab that little extra toughness lets you know that all of the good guys, and not just McClane, are riled up and want to fight back.

Have you ever noticed the ad for Lethal Weapon 2 on the back of a magazine the old lady is reading on the plane next to Holly?

Temple of Doom & Young Sherlock Holmes

Image result for young sherlock holmes posterIn my review of YoungSherlock Holmes that I did ages ago I omitted a part where I talked about a scene that’s almost identical to one in IndyJones and the Temple of Doom.  All these years I’ve always wanted to mention it so I figured this is as good a time as any.

The scene I’m referring to in Holmes is when Sherlock and co. discover a secret cult carrying out a human sacrifice.  In Temple Indy and co. also witness a human sacrifice, right?  Well the similarities are astounding actually.  Both parties hide in an area higher up towards the back so they can get a whole lay of the land and watch the ceremony unobstructed, each group contains three people of two guys and one gal (Indy, Short Round, Willie; Sherlock, Watson, Elizabeth), the sacrifices are done in a grandiose production with sets and costumes and chanting, both sacrificial humans are burned alive (one by fire, the other by acid), both protagonists sneak down to the main floor to steal something, both scenes occur about an hour into each film (in terms of running time for Indy it’s halfway, for Holmes it’s a little more than halfway) and both movies end up coming back to this sacrifice room to kick off the finale but eventually move on to other locations.
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Since Temple came out a year earlier Holmes appears to be the imitator here.  However, Spielberg produced Holmes which makes more sense why we have this duplicate scene.  I just wonder if it was at his insistence or if writer Chris Columbus (yes, that Chris Columbus) liked the Temple scene so much that he wanted to include it in his script.  Or a third possibility is the screenwriters for Temple (Willard Huyck and Gloria Katz) were brought in to do uncredited rewrites and put this scene in.

Whatever the reason, it’s an interesting connection.  And by the way this movie’s still great, you should definitely try to get to it at some point.  

Uncle Buck “Dildo”

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Unexpectedly, the word “dildo” is used in Uncle Buck.  It’s in the scene when the hungover clown shows up to Miles’ birthday party.  He boasts that if they need any “dildo jokes, I’m your guy!”  It’s funny and certainly surprising for a family friendly comedy.  Boy how times have changed.  Just for the record I don’t think “dildo” is a bad word really but these days I couldn’t imagine it being used in a Fast and Furious movie let alone a comedy for all ages.