Archive for the ‘Mickey Rourke’ Category

Pacific Rim Elysium (2013) Anchorman 2

There are some potentially great movies coming out this year. Go anywhere else on the internet and you will read about movies like PACIFIC RIM and ANCHORMAN 2 and THE WORLD’S END and ELYSIUM. I’m excited about those too. There’s also all the obvious nerd bait like STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS and HUNGER GAMES 2 and THOR THE DARK WORLD. Not really my thing, but it’s certainly understandable if those are the kind of titles that make your heart do a happy dance.

But step off the beaten path with me. Let’s take a moment to give some attention to the real weirdos out there. Let’s look at some of the movies of 2013 which no one in their right mind is looking forward to. I’m not talking about intentional cult items like MACHETE KILLS or ESCAPE PLAN. Those movies are that guy or girl at the party who’s trying too hard to be sexy and therefore failing big for exactly that reason. I’m talking about the ugly guys or girls who just don’t give a fuck what you think they look like. They just wandered in off the street because they got a whiff of the guacamole dip.

This isn’t about schadenfreude.  Well, not really. I mean, I’m no saint. There are a couple movies I wouldn’t mind watching crash and burn. In that category are ENDER’S GAME — written by a bigot, directed by the guy who made X-MEN ORIGINS: WOLVERINE; sure, no way that pairing could go wrong — and a pair of Vince Vaughn movies, one where he hangs out at Google for an entire movie and another movie where he plays a sperm donor, because no one learned anything from THE SWITCH and holy Lord do I ever not want to see or ever be asked to think about Vince Vaughn donating sperm.

But generally, my natural good nature wins out and I am a sweetheart who only wishes the best for everyone. Still, there are some movies coming up in 2013 whose very existence perplexes me. And that in turn makes me curious. Call me a a jerk, a creep, a kook, a contrarian, a nihilist, an anarchist — I’ve been called all of those things before and that was only this morning at the nunnery — but I like really bizarre movies that make no rational sense, and I like it even better when those movies turn out to be entertaining.  So the following bunch is a group I’ve got my eye on in 2013 (some are getting real close now!):

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Assault on Wall Street (2013)

ASSAULT ON WALL STREET (May 10)

Why It Could Be Cool:

It’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 meets WALL STREET!

Why It Probably Won’t Be:

It’s ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 meets WALL STREET!

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Java Heat (2013)

JAVA HEAT (May 10)

Why It Could Be Cool:

It’s the caveman version of HEAT!

Why It Probably Won’t Be:

Mickey Rourke may actually be an Al Pacino, but Kellan Lutz is no Robert De Niro. I mean, maybe he is. I’ve only seen him in ARENA. He did not come off too brightly there. Also, his name is Kellan Lutz.

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Robosapien

CODY THE ROBOSAPIEN (May 28)


Why It Could Be Cool: “From the producer of SPIDER-MAN, X-MEN, and IRON MAN…”

Why It Probably Won’t Be: …And the director of SOUL SURFER!

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Sinbad The Fifth Voyage (2010)

SINBAD THE FIFTH VOYAGE (May 31)

Why It Could Be Cool:

Pseudo-stop-motion-animated skeletons!

Why It Probably Won’t Be:

Skeletons aside, this looks impressively bad. Like ten dollars worth of stolen garbage. I bet you Sinbad doesn’t even do his MacDonald’s milkshake routine!

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After Earth (2013)

AFTER EARTH (May 31)

Why It Could Be Cool:  Will Smith! A clone of Will Smith! Space! Volcanoes! Monkeys!

Why It Probably Won’t Be: M. Night Shyamalan.

But that also means it could be as funny as THE HAPPENING. At this point, Shammy is probably done for as a serious director. But as a director of hilariously-solemn unintentional-comedies, he’s got a better shot than most.

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Axe Giant

AXE GIANT: THE WRATH OF PAUL BUNYAN (On DVD June 18)

Why It Could Be Cool:  Well, it’s a horror movie about the legendary giant lumberjack Paul Bunyan.  Ain’t a thing I can say I’ve ever seen before, and brother, I’ve seen plenty.  Also, while there are no signs from the trailer or the official site, there’s still a better-than-average chance of a cameo from Babe The Blue Ox.

Why It Probably Won’t Be: Actually, I have no reason to expect it won’t be amazing.

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Hammer of the Gods (2013)

HAMMER OF THE GODS (July 5)

Why It Could Be Cool: It’s a movie about Vikings!

Why It Probably Won’t Be: Vikings that say “Kiss my axe.”

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R.I.P.D. (2013)

R.I.P.D. (July 31)

Why It Could Be Cool: I’ll never not have hope for a movie that has Jeff Bridges and James Hong in it, and unlike most of the huge movies this summer, this one seems to have a sense of humor about itself.

Why It Probably Won’t Be: It’s trying way, way hard to be both GHOSTBUSTERS and MEN IN BLACK at the same time. See if you can spot the big, gaping difference.

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The Frozen Ground (2013)

THE FROZEN GROUND (August)

(No trailer yet.)

Why It Could Be Cool:  Cage versus Cusack. Hate to paraphrase myself so quickly, but: It’s like HEAT for weirdos.

Why It Probably Won’t Be:  This comes to us from 50 Cent’s production company, Cheetah Vision, and yes, 50 Cent co-stars in the film.  50 Cent’s movies are becoming an obsession of mine — not because they’re particularly awful, but because they aren’t particularly good, despite often tremendous casts.  Also, NOBODY KNOWS ABOUT THEM.  He’s so famous yet his movies are so under-the-radar.  But that’s a much longer conversation.  THE FROZEN GROUND is based on a true story.  John Cusack plays Robert Hansen, the notorious serial killer, and Nicolas Cage plays the Alaskan cop who hunts him down.  It’s no secret that Cage, once (and still) a tremendously gifted and unconventional actor, took a severe detour into mostly silly movies.  It’s less commented-upon that John Cusack has kind of done the same thing.  There’s an outside chance that a movie teaming the two of them could end up being great, but even if it doesn’t, it can still be colossally entertaining.

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Don Jon

DON JON (October 18)

Why It Could Be Cool:  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is one of the smartest actors around and this is the first movie he wrote and directed.  He seems to have brought his old accent from LOOPER along, and that was surely a fine movie.  Scarlett Johannsson, who is also great, is his co-star, and she looks particularly phenomenal in this trailer.

Why It Probably Won’t Be:  Well it still could be.  There’s a ton of major talent involved. But I have to admit, and you probably should also, that if it were anyone other than Joseph Gordon-Levitt making this movie, there’d be plenty of cause for agita.  It’s hard to escape the suspicion that JGL came up with this movie back when Jersey Shore was hot.  It’s tough not to notice that Scarlett is using one of her SNL accents.  It impossible not to consider that porn addiction is pretty difficult to make charming on film. And on top of all that, Tony Danza.

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The Butler (2013) The Butler (2013)

THE BUTLER (October 18)

Why It Could Be Cool: There are a lot of good actors in this movie.

Why It Probably Won’t Be: Watch the trailer. Listen to and look at all the shit those good actors are made to do, say, and wear. Listen to that music. Have you done all three? Great! Now your incontinence is cured!

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Gallowwalkers

GALLOWWALKER(S) (release date unknown, may actually have already been out for two years)

Why It Could Be Cool:

It’s exactly BLADE, but then also a Western!

Why It Probably Won’t Be:

I mean let’s be reasonable with our expectations here.

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Bookmark this page because I will be updating it as I discover more beautiful treasures!

@jonnyabomb

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Originally posted on 6-15-2009, this is a column I hope to resurrect one day soon.

 
 
 

By the time The Wrestler was released last year, my Netflix queue became scattered with random Mickey Rourke films of yesteryear.  I’ve always liked Mickey Rourke, and his filmography is a pretty damn interesting place to wander around.  The early, critically acclaimed pretty-boy stage is not short on underrated films with great Rourke performances (The Pope Of Greenwich Village, etc.), and between you and me, the trainwreck years were frequently insanely entertaining as well (Double Team, Bullet*, etc.)  Then you get into Sin City, where Rourke made a huge impression, and Domino, where he was the best thing about a tough movie, which leads us to The Wrestler and the full-on critical redemption.

 

Before The Wrestler though, Rourke starred in a movie that surely at one point had critical raves in mind – a film adaptation of a 1989 novel by the legendary crime master Elmore Leonard, directed by John Madden, the man who bested (or robbed, depending on who you ask) Saving Private Ryan at the 1998 Oscars for Best Picture with Shakespeare In Love.

 

Killshot is the story of a career criminal (Rourke) looking to make one last score, aided by an unruly young apprentice (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), but through an unfortunate wrong-place/wrong-time scenario, he becomes fixated on killing a couple who are in the process of separation (Diane Lane & Thomas Jane.)  Killshot was shot and intended for release in 2006, but didn’t make it to daylight until this year, when it stealthily snuck onto the DVD shelves. Silent but deadly. What happened?

 

Killshot opens with a terrific song by the band Low and crystal cinematography by veteran DP Caleb Deschanel (yes, Zooey’s dad), both of which indicate more energy than the rest of the movie ultimately brings.  That’s really the problem – Killshot is just dour.  It’s the kind of movie that makes you appreciate what other movies do right, in this case the fellow Elmore Leonard adaptations Out Of Sight and Jackie Brown.  What Steven Soderbergh and Quentin Tarantino, respectively, brought to the table was an attention to character and a firmer grasp of tone than Killshot director John Madden ultimately achieves.  Killshot is hardly unwatchable, but it doesn’t have the spark that we look for when Elmore Leonard’s name is involved.

 

Killshot might get the stone-faced killer angle down, but maybe that’s also what sinks it.  The movie carries very little of Elmore Leonard’s sly sense of humor, and that filters down to the usually-great cast.  Mickey Rourke can do badass in his sleep; he’s good enough here that you wish he’d have a similar role in a more light-hearted movie.  He does, however, have to labor under the burden of playing both Native-American and Canadian, an acting demand which no one can probably do in their sleep.  Gordon-Levitt is a good actor, but he plays his part at such heightened energy that it doesn’t fit the rest of the movie – he comes off as more annoying than not, which makes his character’s fate not a question of IF but of WHEN, if you catch my drift.  Lane and Jane are solid actors who have been given very little to work with here:  Scared and angry, respectively.  Pretty thankless.  (Although “Lane & Jane: Scared & Angry” is a good tagline for the poster.)  Rosario Dawson, as a prison guard with a Graceland obsession, is the only actor in the cast who seems to be fully aware that she’s in an Elmore Leonard adaptation.  I like Rosario a lot – no matter what quality the movie she’s appearing in, she’s always canny enough to strike the right tone.  Unfortunately, she only gets about two scenes in Killshot.

 

I don’t really understand why Killshot was doomed to such an invisible release – I see worse movies released nationwide every other week.  It may be a somewhat disappointing viewing experience, because you can see how all of the elements could have added up to a much snappier movie, but still, it’s very far from awful.  It’s surely worth watching if you’re enough of a Mickey Rourke fan, and for one other reason at least:  This movie gives you the vision of Diane Lane reaching for a shotgun, wearing a white tank top and panties on a cold night, and that’s really all you need to know to decide whether it’s worth risking your time on.

 

 

 

 

Got thoughts?  Share ’em:  @jonnyabomb

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

There are many worse things a man could do for himself than concoct a Walter Matthau film festival.  Here is what Matthau was up to in the 1970s:  The Bad News Bears, The Taking Of Pelham One Two Three, and today’s highlight, Charley Varrick.  Commonalities among those roles include Matthau’s characters favoring behavior that allows him to give everyone else shit, and to take none from them.

The key to Matthau’s appeal is an uncommon directness.  That way, even when acting abrasive, he was always accessible.  It’s what made him an unconventional leading man for a while there – unconventional by traditional Hollywood standards, and unconventional even by the upstart standards of the 1970s, where guys like Pacino, Nicholson, De Niro, Hackman, and Hoffman, guys with character actor faces, somehow became stars.  Matthau’s face was different than the rest, in that it was so much less prone to a smile, and on the rare occasions that one broke, it was always sly.  Matthau’s face defined the term “hangdog;” it literally resembled a well-worn catcher’s mitt.

A word about the “catcher’s mitt” thing:  This is a freequently-deployed critical cliché that had its most recent outbreak during the release of The Wrestler, but Mickey Rourke’s face doesn’t look like a catcher’s mitt.  Mickey Rourke’s face looks like Buffalo Bill wearing a Mickey Rourke mask.  Of all the actors to whom this cliché is applied, only Walter Matthau’s face truly looks like a catcher’s mitt, and his films were all the more refreshing for it.

Charley Varrick is a collaboration between Matthau and the great, eternally underrated director Don Siegel.  Siegel is best known for his work with Clint Eastwood, most notably on Dirty Harry, but he had a long career before and after Clint, which encompassed such disparate work as Invasion Of The Body Snatchers, The Shootist, and the Lee Marvin version of The Killers.  Screenplay is by Howard Rodman and Dean Riesner, who wrote on Dirty Harry and High Plains Drifter.  Cinematography is by Michael Butler who also shot Jaws 2 and real man’s classic Cannonball Run.  Score is by Lalo Schifrin, who needs no introduction if you’re serious.

It’s simple and straightforward as far as the set-up goes.  Charley Varrick and his crew pull off a small-time bank robbery that turns out to have a shockingly heavy yield – they’ve accidentally ripped off the mob and now they’re on mob radar.  Are they gonna get away or end up dismembered, is the question, and the movie’s answer is at least a little surprising.  The getting there is the rest of the fun.  I’m not revealing much else because this one is a strong recommend.

Charley Varrick was also apparently released under the amazingly cool title Kill Charley Varrick! but not under Siegel’s preferred title, Last Of The Independents (Charley Varrick’s front company), and it features a remarkable unpretty tough-guy ensemble, including:

Andy Robinson, Scorpio from Dirty Harry, who here plays Charley’s hophead sidekick whose boozing unpredictability edges closer and closer to blowing the whole getaway.

Norman Fell, best known as the only landlord who mattered, Mr. Roper on Three’s Company, but had a lesser-known side career as a tough guy in movies like The Killers and Bullitt.

John Vernon, forever Dean Wormer from Animal House, who here plays a relatively similar heel role to his part in Point Blank, the shady fixer who fucks up (and eventually gets fucked up for the error).

Most memorably, there’s the cool cowboy mob enforcer on the trail of the missing money, Joe Don Baker as Molly, a shit-kicking killer who calmly murders for money but refuses to fuck whores even when presented free of charge.  Man’s got his principles.

Charley Varrick can be seen or rented on Netflix, but it’d be worth watching next time it comes through your town on one of the many revival screenings set up by savvy crime flick aficionados.

theswitch_poster

I’m no marketing mastermind, but I think I have a possible partial explanation for why THE SWITCH wasn’t able to do Pixar-level business on its first week in theaters.  Have you seen those posters?  It’s possible that most people weren’t exactly intrigued at the image of co-star Jason Bateman turning up his nose as he tentatively sniffs at a cup full of Elmer’s Man-Glue.  There’s just GOT to be a better way to sell an artificial-insemination comedy (assuming that one has gone ahead with making one in the first place.)

I don’t know, maybe it’s not a great idea in general to center a romantic comedy plot around bodily fluid.  Can you imagine a movie high-concept based in doo-doo or pee-pee?  Because obviously I have a couple:

Luke Wilson Rosario Dawson Mickey Rourke

Luke Wilson is a down-on-his-luck promoter who has somehow booked a huge concert at Madison Square Garden starring a reunited rock supergroup whose lead singer has well-publicized substance abuse problems.  Rosario Dawson is the corporate insurance official who is responsible for making sure that the high-stakes show goes off without a hitch.  Luke has to make sure that the rock star stays clean for the show, Rosario is the one who has to be present at every piss test.  Throughout the inevitable hi-jinks, Luke and Rosario win each other’s hearts.  Mickey Rourke plays the rock star.  The movie is called

PISSED OFF

Or:

Tobey Maguire Jessica Alba 50 Cent

Tobey Maguire is a horse-drawn carriage driver in Central Park.  Jessica Alba is an up-and-coming advertising copywriter who is taking a ride with her douchebag fiancée, played by Hugh Jackman.  Unbeknownst to her at first, Alba loses the memory stick containing her presentation to bid for an upcoming account with Vitamin Water.  (The meeting is with Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson, in a surprise cameo.)  When she finally tracks down Maguire, they find the memory stick but then the horse swallows it.  Unfortunately, this particular horse (voice of Mickey Rourke) has chronic constipation.  As they work together to help the horse divulge itself of the necessary object, Maguire and Alba win each other’s hearts.  The movie is called

POOPED

Okay, so maybe I had a point the first time around.  Maybe it’s not the best idea after all.  THE SWITCH is based around an incident with male byproduct – I know that spunk has baby-making properties that the other offal I mentioned don’t possess, but that doesn’t mean that we need to see it onscreen, or to even think about it on a date night at the movies, when – not for nothing – we’re dipping our hands into popcorn buckets which are already drenched in a funky buttery substance.

The Switch

 

And it’s a shame, because apart from the unfortunate concept which was the reason for the movie getting made in the first place, THE SWITCH is actually a likable movie.  It’s certainly no worse than most modern romantic comedies, and it’s even better than a lot of them (such as pretty much everything that Sandra Bullock does).  The secret ingredient (woops) is the pairing of Jason Bateman and Jennifer Aniston, one of the more likable tag-teams I’ve seen in a movie like this in quite a while.  At this point, Bateman is a master criminal of comedy, having stolen every single movie he’s appeared in over the last decade – from DODGEBALL to STATE OF PLAY to SMOKIN’ ACES and so on and on and on and on.  He’s also a good enough actor to convincingly play a shlub with a decade-long crush on an unattainable woman – it definitely strains belief that a guy as hilarious and as quick with a quip as Bateman would have a problem telling a girl how he feels, but he makes it make sense.

And I’m sorry, but Aniston is my cup of tea entirely, and I don’t even drink tea, but I bet she does and I’d very gladly put my preferences on hold to take her out for tea.  Anyway, it’s not a stretch for her to play the unattainable woman who keeps a shlub hanging on to a decade-long crush.  Maybe I could relate to the situation.  Who knows.  It’s not really the writing or the direction that do much for the authenticity that THE SWITCH somehow manages to achieve at times.  It’s that relatability – most of us have been there (except for the whole artificial insemination subplot), most of us have yearned for someone we couldn’t bring ourselves to fully pursue – and the great work by both actors, not to mention the terrifically warm performance by the very young Thomas Robinson as their precocious progeny, that gives THE SWITCH its several genuine moments.

 

THE SWITCH

 

But it’s not good enough.  I think the reason is – besides the whole artificial insemination subplot, of course – that the movie dwells on Bateman’s perspective at the expense of Aniston’s.  It’s the same old American-movie hang-up:  Male filmmakers making movies from the male perspective, even when the story makes more sense and is more interesting from the woman’s side.  How does Aniston’s character really feel about Bateman’s?  How does she feel when he hijacks her pregnancy, for whatever reason?  Why did she want to get pregnant so badly in the first place?  What is her life like when she leaves town for seven years?  How does she feel when she finds out what her best friend did?  See, the real interesting questions are all on the female side of the story.  It’s fun to watch Bateman do what he does, and I personally get the guy perspective, but the better, bolder movie would’ve made Aniston’s character the protagonist rather than the dream girl.

Besides, the following image would have made a much better poster.  Again, I’m no marketing mastermind, but I know which billboard I’d rather be looking at.

Jennifer Aniston for Smartwater

@jonnyabomb