Jonah Hex – A Movie Review

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Jul 042010

Jonah Hex is a scarred drifter and bounty hunter of last resort, a tough and stoic gunslinger who can track down anyone… and anything. Having survived death, Jonah’s violent history is steeped in myth and legend, and has left him with one foot in the natural world and one on the “other side.” His only human connection is with Lila, whose life in a brothel has left her with scars of her own. Jonah’s past is about to catch up with him when the U.S. military makes him an offer he can’t refuse: in exchange for his freedom from the warrants on his head, he must track down and stop the dangerous terrorist Quentin Turnbull. But Turnbull, who is gathering an army and preparing to unleash Hell, is also Jonah’s oldest enemy and will stop at nothing until Jonah is dead.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Science Fiction/Fantasy, Western and Adaptation; Running Time: 84 min.; Release Date: June 18th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence and action, disturbing images and sexual content.

Starring: Josh Brolin, John Malkovich, Megan Fox, Michael Fassbender, Will Arnett, Micheal Shannon

Directed By: Jimmy Hayward

Lay was most interested in seeing this movie, so we went last weekend.

If you’re prone to make jokes that you lose interest in a movie if something isn’t blown up in the first five minutes of whatever they’re watching?, Well, you have any problems with the opening of Jonah Hex. There are two huge explosions, a shootout, and a robbery in the first fifteen minutes of the film.

Before I go any further, let me be the first to point out that I didn’t read the Jonah Hex comics. So this is purely from a moviegoer’s standpoint. Jonah Hex is so focused on getting revenge for his family that he’s really kind of boring other than the occasional wise remark . He can apparently talk to dead people, which is kind of interesting. Animals tend to have a thing for him, too; horses, dogs, a huge murder of crows.

Megan Fox brings mostly eye candy to her role as a promiscuous woman who has a soft spot for Jonah Hex and has a decent action scene towards the end of the film, but adds little to her repertoire as far as acting goes. John Malkovich as the main villain supports that theory, but his character is also pretty dull. He lost the thing he loved most in this world thanks to Jonah Hex and the military, so he’s decided to kill innocent bystanders and destroy the United States.

If you ever saw (and enjoyed) the old Wild West TV show or movie, you’ll probably like Jonah Hex. They sure seemed to have a lot of really neat technology back in those days. I enjoyed the movie. It’s not going to be up for for any Oscars, but it’s worth renting.

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W. – A Movie Review

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Feb 232009

W Movie PosterW. takes viewers through Bush’s eventful life — his struggles and triumphs, how he found both his wife and his faith, and of course the critical days leading up to Bush’s decision to invade Iraq.

Genres: Comedy, Drama, Biopic and Politics/Religion; Running Time: 2 hrs. 11 min.; Release Date: October 17th, 2008 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for language including sexual references, some alcohol abuse, smoking and brief disturbing war images.

Starring: Josh Brolin, Elizabeth Banks, James Cromwell, Ellen Burstyn, Thandie Newton

Directed by: Oliver Stone

Produced by: Elliot Ferwerda, Albert Yeung, Matthew Street

Lay and I watched this movie at home on DVD last weekend. It was more interesting than I expected. The film hopscotches through Bush’s life in an effort to compile all the seminal moments. Because of the number of “events” the film attempts to chronicle, this just all happens too fast.

Brolin, though he doesn’t look that much like W., creates a memorable character that might be W. with vitality in his certitude and confusion. The same goes for Cromwell, playing H.W. Bush,  who catches the patient, patrician nature of a family scion. Richard Dreyfuss is scary good as a Machiavellian Cheney. Wright’s Powell and Toby Jones’ Karl Rove are dead-on. Yet Glenn doesn’t quite get the smugness of the former secretary of defense. Ellen Burstyn doesn’t seem to know what to do with Barbara Bush, but has only one or two minor appearances.

We come into the story with a bull session in the Oval Office with speechwriters and top advisers that produced W.’s “Axis of Evil” speech about Iran, Iraq and North Korea.Here we are introduced to  Brolin as W., Dreyfuss’ as a dark  Dick Cheney lurking in the corner, Thandie Newton’s Condoleezza Rice, Scott Glenn’s Donald Rumsfeld and Jeffrey Wright’s Colin Powell. They all hit their parts well as they act, bluster and argue just like we thought they would — only they seem like figures in a wax museum. As one reviewer put it, “It comes perilously close to a Saturday Night Live sketch.”

A critic for the Hollywood Reporter wrote:

“W.” is not really a political movie per se; rather, it’s a movie about a man who went into politics but probably shouldn’t have. It’s about how a father can misread a son, how a son can suffer in the shadow of a famous dad and how temperament gets molded by events both internal and external.

I loved reading the viewer reviews on Yahoo Movies. Clearly people viewed the movie through the lense of their political persuasion. The user reviews had titles like: “Pointless Leftist Drivel;” “The liberal dumbocrats at it again;” and my personal favorite:

How Dare HE!
I cannot believe that a man would openly mock a sitting president, and a christian one at that!!!

Stone put up a website listing his sources for the events portrayed in the film, and I thought that W.’s “to-the-manor-born” arrogance came through well enough for me the find the film believable. And if the wingnuts are so up in arms about it, I’m guessing it hits too close to home for them, so I like the politics.

What I would say is that it showcases some decent acting with a mediocre script. It probably want have a lot of historical significance, as it will be many years before the final truth of this man and his administration comes out. Until then, we’ll have to settle for some “truthiness.”

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Dec 272008

His life changed history. His courage changed lives. In 1977, Harvey Milk was elected to the San Francisco Board of Supervisors, becoming the first openly gay man to be voted into public office in America. His victory was not just a victory for gay rights; he forged coalitions across the political spectrum. From senior citizens to union workers, Harvey Milk changed the very nature of what it means to be a fighter for human rights and became, before his untimely death in 1978, a hero for all Americans. Milk charts the last eight years of Harvey Milk’s life. While living in New York City, he turns 40. Looking for more purpose, Milk and his lover Scott Smith relocate to San Francisco, where they found a small business, Castro Camera, in the heart of a working-class neighborhood. With his beloved Castro neighborhood and beautiful city empowering him, Milk surprises Scott and himself by becoming an outspoken agent for change. With vitalizing support from Scott and from new friends like young activist Cleve Jones, Milk plunges headfirst into the choppy waters of politics. Bolstering his public profile with humor, Milk’s actions speak even louder than his gift-of-gab words. When Milk is elected supervisor for the newly zoned District 5, he tries to coordinate his efforts with those of another newly elected supervisor, Dan White. But as White and Milk’s political agendas increasingly diverge, their personal destinies tragically converge. Milk’s platform was and is one of hope–a hero’s legacy that resonates in the here and now.

Genres: Drama, Biopic and Politics/Religion; Running Time: 2 hrs. 8 min.; Release Date: November 26th, 2008 (limited), December 5th (expands)

Starring: Sean Penn, Allison Pill, Josh Brolin, Emile Hirsch, James Franco

Directed by: Gus Van Sant

We had kept watching the movie theaters for this movie to show up. We finally went to see it last week, but had to drive nearly to Clearwater for a theater showing the movie. I don’t know why it wasn’t being shown at Veterans 24 or Westshore, but it wasn’t. There was a good crowd for the showing, and I was impressed that there were many straight couples there, including some older folks.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but this was a GREAT movie. Now I admit you probably need to take my review with a grain of salt. Let’s be clear, I’m gay and liberal, and Harvey Milk’s politics is a nice fit for me, so I enjoyed the movie from that perspective.

But much more than that, it was a great story that was well made and well acted. All the actors did a great job, but Sean Penn (someone I’ve grown to respect a lot) just did an outstanding job. He looked and sounded so much like Milk it was uncanny. I just can’t imagine anyone else playing the roll, and this was definitely an Oscar-worthy performance. But Penn was beautifully and expertly supported by the other actors as well.

Van Sant did an outstanding job pulling together the film. He had a lot of material to cover, and it did it well. He capture the feel of the time and place perfectly, and his use of actual news footage was blended perfectly, and didn’t feel at all out of place. Again, it was an Oscar-worthy story told by an Oscar-worthy director.

On an related point, I’d like to note how I found Milk to fit in today with the recent passage of all the anti-gay initiatives. There are many things that have made it difficult to organize a sustained and effective opposition to these initiatives, but I think one of those is the lack of a central unifying figure. There are many people activists today (paid and volunteer) that do a wonderful job for gay rights. This is not meant to take anything away from their efforts, but I can’t name a single activist today that has the national profile of Harvey Milk. Barney Frank probably comes closest in terms of visibility, but he’s just not the electrifying force that was Harvey Milk. Our movement would be better off if someone like Milk emerged today.

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No Country for Old Men-Reviewed

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Mar 292008

No Country For Old MenSet in West Texas, a man on the run with a suitcase full of money is pursued by a number of individuals.

Director: Joel and Ethan Cohen

Genres: Drama, Thriller, Western and Adaptation

Running Time: 2 hrs. 2 min.

Cast: Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Josh Brolin, Beth Grant, Garret Dillahunt

For the first nine-tenths of the movie, this has it all, a good story line, great acting, and drama that holds your interest. Then ten minutes before the end, it seems to wander aimlessly, unsure of its next move. This ending will disappoint most movie-goers…and with good reason. Maybe they are setting it up for a sequel. Either way, its no way to finish.

Acting-wise, I have nothing but admiration for every member of the cast, including those who played Chigurh’s victims. But the pairing of Jones, Bardem, and Brolin is brilliant. Jones, like John Wayne before him, plays one note so well that it doesn’t need to change it. And yet he allows us to really look into this disillusioned lawman who cannot understand what he sees to be a more violent world evolving away from his ideas of civility. If I could, I would nominate both Brolin and Bardem for Best Actor. Bardem would easily win since his character has more to play with, more charisma, and more interest. But I loved how Brolin allowed his character to come off as fully dimensional without saying much. Special mention must be made to Garrett Delahunt who plays the thankless part of Jones’ deputy. He’s partially comic relief, but not at the expense of the character as so many deputies in films.

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