Entries in Bryan Cranston (3)

Friday
Jan112019

THE ODD COUPLE OF THE UPPER EAST SIDE // A FILM REVIEW OF "THE UPSIDE"

BY MATEO MORENO

THE UPSIDE, the new remake of the 2011 French mega hit Les Intouchables, has been on the shelf since 2017. Not because of any content the movie had but because it was collateral damage in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein scandal. It eventually found a January release date (never a great sign if you’re not an action film), and we can finally get to see Kevin Hart go toe to toe against Bryan Cranston in a dramedy that’s “sort of” based on a true story (at least the original was). This American remake hits basically the same beats as the original film, but changes up the story a bit.

The story itself is about an ex-convict named Dell Scott (played by Hart) who needs to find a job, or at least look like he’s trying to find one, so that he can bring the proof back to his parole officer. He shows up to the mansion of Phillip Lacasse (played by Bryan Cranston) who is a billionaire quadriplegic who needs a caretaker. Yvonee Pendelton (Nicole Kidman) is giving the interview and she’s not impressed. But Phillip sees something that he likes, something that’s different, and hired Dell. At first, Dell isn’t interested in the job, until he hears the salary and he jumps at the opportunity immediately. Now begins an odd couple dramedy where the young black ex con teaches the billionaire white man how to live with his heart, and the billionaire white man teaches the black ex con how to live with his head. Stop me if you’re starting to cringe.

 

Why Director Neil Burger decided to remake this film, and why Hart and Cranston (and even Kidman) decided to jump on board is a mystery. The film plays, much like the 2011 French film did, like a movie that was made in the 1980’s and feels way outdated in the gender and racial politics of today. But yet, it wasn’t. The film is new, but no idea is. Stereotypes abound the film and even though Hart and Cranston both give solid performances, the film is a flopping, offensive mess. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not so offensive that you’ll want to walk out of the theatre. But it's just offensive enough that you'll be upset that you're not seeing something that's more clever. Or actually funny. Unless you like catheter humor or enjoy how Dell can’t say the word “penis.” Monty Python watch out. This is comedy gold.

 

MATEO'S GRADE: D

BASED ON THE FILM "LES INTOUCHABLES" WRITTEN BY  Éric Toledano, Oliver Nakache SCREENPLAY BY Jon Hartmere DIRECTED BY Neil Berger STARRING Kevin Hart, Bryan Cranston, Nicole Kidman. Now playing in cinemas.
Thursday
Sep282017

NYFF 2017 // A FILM REVIEW OF "LAST FLAG FLYING"

BY MATEO MORENO

For a dialogue driven film, there's no one better at it than Richard Linklater. He of the BEFORE SUNRISE/SUNSET/MIDNIGHT, WAKING LIFE, & BOYHOOD. The man who tackles head on into any genre he feels like telling a story in. And so he takes on the buddy road film and a War retrospective with the somber LAST FLAG FLYING. We follow Larry "Doc" Shepherd (played with a quiet authority by Steve Carell) as he revisits two old buddies from the war (that war being Vietnam): Sal Nealon (a foulmouthed and drunken Bryan Cranston) and Richard Mueller (a humble now preacher Laurence Fishburne). They share between them a lot of good memories, and a lot of nightmarish ones as well. Doc has a favor to ask them, and he simply can't take no for an answer. And that answer is what sends the three of them on a road trip together.

 

Doc's son enlisted in the Marine Corps after high school and subsequently died in Baghdad. The military described it as an ambush and Doc needs to bring his boy home. So, he enlists the help of his old war buddies to help build up the courage he needs to get this done. And through this long overdue reunion, each of the three men find themselves, even though they didn't realize they were searching for anything at all. Linklater stages the entire affair grounded in a somber tone but flourishes it with light and humor. He makes you feel like these men need each other, at least for now they do. Last Flag Flying is also a spiritual sequel, if you will, to the 1973 Hal Ashby film The Last Detail which starred Jack Nicholson. It was based on a novel by Darryl Ponicsan and the sequel to that book is the basis of this film. The names aren't the same, nor are the events, but the feeling is, as is the mix of tone. Last Flag Flying is a thought provoking film, sometimes warm, sometimes meandering and sometimes heartbreaking. You don't have to have been in a war to know that it's hell, and these men have certainly seen hell. It's the living moments that happen after that are truly the hardest, and even if the film doesn't always land completely on solid ground, it shines a lot of life into the moments in between and warmly invites you on the journey.

 

 

VERDICT: SEE IT

WRITTEN BY Richard Linklater and Daniel Ponicsan DIRECTED BY Richard Linklater STARRING Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Laurence Fishburne. Playing as part of the 2017 55th Annual New York Film Festival. https://www.filmlinc.org/

 

Friday
Sep162011

HIGHWAY TO HELL // A review of the film Drive

BY MATEO MORENO

There’s a heartbeat to every movie, an inner working that demands to be heard.  A great script screams it, a great director dictates it, and a great cast wills it into being.  Unfortunately, all three are not always on the same page, and the movie will suffer for it, feeling uneven and unpolished.  Sometimes a movie will want to pay tribute to an era or a style and if done right, it won’t look like a carbon copy but an original piece paying homage to a past work like an honor.  The new film Drive doesn’t only have everything in place with the exact working order; it does so in such a way that you’ll absolutely feel transported to another place just by watching it.  And that’s just the beginning of this review.

Ryan Gosling plays “Driver,” which isn’t his name, only his occupation.  Yet since we never learn his name, this also substitutes nicely.  He drives for the movies, as in he’s the stunt man who gets thrown hundreds of feet into the air and walks away ready for the next take.  He’s an extremely quiet, detached man.  Doesn’t relate to the human race well, only to his friend and manager, Shannon (Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston turning in a wonderfully layered performance), but when a young woman named Irene (Cary Mulligan) keeps appearing in his life, he takes notice and decides to actually make a human interaction.  All of this, however, is only his life on the surface.  The real money comes from heists and thefts.  He’s the getaway driver, as we learn in the very first intense scene, and as long as you don’t take more than five minutes, he’ll do anything for you.  Suffice to say, as the picture moves along, things get very complicated with literally everything in Driver’s life, but to give any of that away would be a disservice to your experience in seeing the film.  The less you know about the full on plot, the better.

Drive is probably the most unique American action film I’ve seen in some time, mostly because it’s not made like the typical “full throttle” action film we tend to spend our well earned money on here.  Instead, Danish director Nicolas Winding Refn (who also made the excellent Pusher films and the equally excellent Bronson, plus won Best Director for this film at this year’s Cannes Film Festival) treats the film in a slow, independent European style, showcasing the choices and feelings each character goes through, mostly without the use of much dialogue at all.  In fact, Driver speaks less in the entire film than most lead action stars speak in the first 30 minutes of their films.  And although the movie is set in modern day, the look, feel, and music (hell, even the “type” on the opening credits) scream the 1980’s.  Without relying on the typical action sequences, car chases, or over the top action moments, the film instead becomes a psychological study of a withdrawn man and the people surrounding him.  Gosling is fantastic in the role, mixing the character’s “Dexter Morgan” vibe with a caring and strong-willed character.  He’s a man with a good deal of darkness and doesn’t care much about money, but he does care about people keeping their word.  Even in his silences, Gosling brings such a full on menace to the role, yet keeps you on his side throughout the process.  He’s very much an anti-hero, as he isn’t exactly a good guy at all.

The showy supporting cast turns in great moments as well.  Carey Mulligan has a quiet sweetness to her that seems entirely genuine.  Albert Brooks and Ron Perlman steal scenes left and right as a pair of shady business partners who seem to be getting into the racing business.  Oscar Isaac (the one good thing in SuckerPunch) and Christina Hendricks (Mad Men) both bring fire to their small supporting turns, and Cranston brings a scared yet mysterious man to light in unique and impressive ways.  Also to be mentioned is a true shining star in this process, Newton Thomas Siegel, who is the film’s cinematographer.  He’s so gifted in the way he presents shots and angels that you fall in love with every single one of them.  The pacing is great, the action scenes (which, as a warning, are beyond extremely violent) are amazing, and the slow and steady approach definitely wins the race here.  Plus, the stylish 1980’s vibed music by Cliff Martinez (Contagion) is so good you’ll immediately want the soundtrack so you can play it alongside all of your actual 80’s music.

There are a lot of action films that turn into a forgettable option, but Drive turns all of your expectations and preconceived notions on action films and spins them, rolls them, and spits it right back to you.  I turned to my buddy after seeing the film and wondered out loud how the film will do at the box office being that it’s so unique in its style and hook.  To be sure, Drive is a stylish, sleek, sexy, ultra-violent foreign film that happens to be bow tied into a star studded Hollywood affair.  Let’s hope the box office is great because we need more original thrillers like this one being created on American turf.

Screenplay by Hossein Amini Based on the novel by James Sallis Directed by Nicholas Winding Refn Starring Ryan Gosling, Carey Mulligan, Bryan Cranston, Albert Brooks, Ron Perlman, Oscar Isaacs, Christina Hendricks Rated R (for adult language, adult situations, Nudity, Graphic Violence) Now playing nationwide

Mateo’s Grade: A

Bottom Line: It’s just great.  Gosling fully earns his place as the new leading man who can actually act, and the director fully fleshes out a slick and intriguing new film that’s just as much of an accomplishment of a film as it is a challenge to all others.