Posts Tagged ‘Sean Penn’

Being John Malkovich – Minute Movie Review

Dienstag, April 20th, 2010


Out-of-work puppeteer John Cusack is forced by wife Cameron Diaz to get a regular job, so he starts working in filing on floor 7½, where he discovers a portal that leads right into the head of John Malkovich. Together with love interest Catherine Keener he decides to exploit it for financial gain, but before long things get really strange. Perennial mind-fuck favourites Spike Jonze and Charlie Kaufman first teamed up for this film, creating a very amusing comedy about human identity that’s not nearly as profound as it thinks it is.

Random Observations:

Being John Malkovich at the IMDb

Best thing about the film? Catherine Keener, who is pretty much great in everything she does, but very rarely recognized for it. In this case, though, she at least got an Oscar nod out of it.

John Cusack with long hair, scruffy beard and glasses is barely recognisable.

The whole film suffered a lot towards the end, when it had to somehow resolve all plot lines while attempting to tell a coherent and sensible story.

Fast Times at Ridgemont High – Minute Movie Review

Montag, März 29th, 2010


Based on the book by screenwriter Cameron Crowe, the film details the adventures of a bunch of High School people during one year. The film almost single-handedly founded the genre known as teen comedy, with the ever popular themes like sex, drugs and rock & roll surviving to this date. It doesn’t really have much of a plot, but it is an often funny look at teenage life that manages to entertain for the most part.

Random Observations:

Fast Times at Ridgemont High at the IMDb

First film role for Nicolas Cage, who for the one and only time is credited with his birth name. He’s also on screen for about half a second.

It’s really strange to see Sean Penn as a surfer/stoner, considering the roles he has taken lately.

Minute Movie Review – The Thin Red Line

Donnerstag, Mai 21st, 2009


Set during the battle for Guadalcanal in 1942, the film has little plot but focuses on single scenes to show that war is a very personal experience. It is a very odd film that takes the time for long, almost still, shots of natural beauty or animals as well as repeated flashbacks. Yet it feels also incredibly sloppily cut, with many scenes not allowed to fully play out and many unresolved issues. Add to that voice-over narration straight from a platitude-a-day calendar and all subtlety that the amazing cast introduces is lost.

Random Observations:

The Thin Red Line at

If you can trust the internet, the first cut was six hours long. That would certainly explain why so many scenes in the three hour cut seem unfinished and why top talent like George Clooney is on screen for less two minutes while Adrien Brody only has two lines and is seen in the background in a couple of scenes.

The film was released in 1998 and was only ever described as the “other WWII movie”. It may be a mess, but it is an extremely ambitious one and in many ways superior to Saving Private Ryan.

The film has many good ideas, but only uses very few of them. For example, the one guy who has a wife back home and who constantly thinks back to the times they spend together finally gets a letter from her telling him that she fell in love again and wants a divorce. Now this is largely predictable, yet it would still have made for a good chance to examine the nature of war-time relationships or whatever. But no, all we get is three minutes of the guy walking around looking sad (I’m being flip here, the scene is actually quite good), and after that, he acts exactly as he has before, but with a sad gleam in his eye.

The film in many ways is a great character study of different people during war. Combined with great performances from Nick Nolte, Elias Koteas, Sean Penn and the like, it could easily have been a great film. The combat scenes are also extremely well made and while they are not as gruesomely realistic as those of the other 1998 WWII movie, they nevertheless manage to give the viewer a sense of how hard it can be to take a single hill. It’s almost painful to think of the many great aspects of this film, because the overall result is not nearly as good.

My Favourite Contemporary Actors

Freitag, März 27th, 2009

As I said before, everybody loves Top Ten Lists. Especially me. So I thought I’d start a new, sort of regular, feature here, where I make Top Ten Lists of things I like. Now, the usual way to go about that would be to make lists like “The Ten Best Actors Working Today”, but even I don’t consider my opinion so important as to call it objective. So I will make lists like “My Favourite Ten Actors Working Today”, even if that title is a little longer. And so, without further ado, here are the ten actors whose body of work I enjoy so much, that just their participation in a film means that I want to see it, in reverse order. If you know all ten of them, congratulate yourself on having good taste. (weiterlesen …)

Minute Movie Review – The Wrestler

Dienstag, März 10th, 2009


Randy “The Ram” Robinson knows how to do just one thing: wrestle. But his glorydays are long over and he is barely scraping by, ruining his health and his chance at another life. “The Wrestler” examines the life of a man that has lost his place in the world and is desperately trying to find it again. Hauntingly realistic and often unexpected, lead actor Mickey Rourke embodies the story of a man lost in a different world.

Random Observations:

The Wrestler at

Mickey Rourke was nominated for a Best Actor Oscar along with Brad Pitt, Richard Jenkins, Frank Langella and Sean Penn. Having seen all of the performances but Jenkins, I can now conclude that Penn shouldn’t have won for Milk, but rather Langella for Frost/Nixon.

As much as I enjoyed the movie, the biggest joy it brought me was offering Rourke a comeback. His acceptance speeches at award festivities and his interviews are frequently hilarious.

Evan Rachel Wood played the wrestler’s daughter. I wish I knew where I had seen her before.

I definitely need to check our more of director Darren Aronofsky’s work. I have only seen Requiem for a Dream so far.

The Oscars are today! Did you know?

Sonntag, Februar 22nd, 2009

Later tonight, the prestigious Academy Awards will be handed out at the 81st Oscar ceremony. After the dismal television ratings last year, the Academy promised to revamp the show this year, make it more interesting for “common” people. So they got rid of a comedia hosting, who would only crack inside jokes that nobody not obsessed with Hollywood would get. So they promised to reduce the running time from three and a half hours to under three hours. So they got rid of the ban for commercials for upcoming movies. And then they completely forgot to nominate the most popular movie of the year.

Ever since The Dark Knight was wrongfully overlooked by Academy members, the predictions have been that nobody would care about the Oscars anymore. And to some extent, that is true. Advertising rates in the US are significantly lower than last year and for every Oscar buffy predicting a better show you can find three predicting that nobody will see that show.

For my part, I have kept mostly quiet about the award season, which comes to a close today, this year. Not because I didn’t care, but because there are so many people writing about it on the internet that I didn’t feel a need to write more of the same. So this is just a quick note to offer some of my predictions for tonight – that the Oscars are all about politics and not about quality should be universally known already. How else would The Reader have gotten in?

I would also like to offer my thoughts on who *should* win, but I can’t. There is only one category where I have seen all nominees and I would consider it unfair, just for example, to Mickey Rourke if I said that Frank Langella should win Best Actor. So now, without any further ado, some predictions:

Slumdog Millionaire is going to sweep the awards. Best Picture, Best Director (Danny Boyle) and Best Adapted Screenplay(Simon Beaufoy) are sure to win – Cinematography, Score and Original Song also seem likely. Maybe they all deserve it, but I would bet my life that the movie wouldn’t have stood a chance of even being nominated without the current economic climate.

Mickey Rourke will win Best Actor for The Wrestler. The only other nominee given serious chances is Sean Penn for Milk, which didn’t impress me and hence will also not impress Academy voters. And besides, the comeback of the year wouldn’t be complete without this win. Golden Globes and Independent Spirit Awards be damned.

Kate Winslet will win Best Actress. And sadly, not for Revolutionary Road, but for “The Reader”. And even though I have seen neither film and thus can’t really judge the performances, I strongly feel that this is wrong on too many levels. But hey, at least Winslet finally gets an Oscar.

Heath Ledger will win Supporting Actor for The Dark Knight. I think if you were to bet on this, you would not make any money – everybody expects this. Heath Ledger was great in the film and the nomination is certainly deserved, but one cannot help to feel that it is also an award for all the movies he will never make.

Penelope Cruz will win Supporting Actress for Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Nothing to say here, except that this is apparently the consensus.

Man on Wire will win Best Documentary. It’s the only one I and the rest of the world have seen and this is one category, where Academy members have to see all five nominees to vote, so a surprise is not unlikely, but which film would win instead nobody can say.

WALL-E will win Best Animated Feature. For sure. They even tried to get it nominated as Best Picture. Almost as certain as Heath Ledger’s win.

Waltz with Bashir will win Best Foreign Language Film. Certainly better than The Class and The Baader Meinhof Complex. Better than the Italian entry Gomorra and not nearly as good as the Swedish film that wasn’t eligible, Let the Right One In.

I have no idea who will win in the technical and shorts categories. I’m not that obsessed…

Minute Movie Review – Milk

Sonntag, Februar 22nd, 2009


Harvey Milk was the first openly gay man elected to a public office in the United States – as a supervisor in San Francisco. He was assassinated while in office, along with the mayor of San Francisco, by another supervisor. The film tells the story of the last eight years of his life, from leaving New York to get a fresh start until his death (and the reaction it provoked). The film is very well made and the message is as simple as it is resonant (and repeated over and over again): There is nothing wrong with being gay. Harvey Milk did a lot to convince the public of that, this biopic will certainly do some more today.

Random Observations:

Milk at

Josh Brolin received an Oscar nomination as Best Supporting Actor for this film – James Franco is the one, who actually deserved it.

The actors look eerily similar to the real people they portray – it’s amazing what a new hairdo and some prosthetics can do.

Many of the people close to Harvey Milk were involved in the making of the film. Some of them even took on small roles.

The second of three Best Picture nominees for the Oscars I have seen and my favourite to win so far.

The Ten Best Movies of 2008

Mittwoch, Januar 7th, 2009

Everybody loves Top Ten Lists, right? You can never get enough of them, correct? If you read one to the end, you want nothing more than start looking at the next one, or am I wrong? In any case, I like Top Ten (or basically any other number) Lists. I know they are silly and arbitrary and highly subjective, but they are still fun – even if one just reads them to poke fun at the author(s). So to start my own habitual list-making off, I hereby offer you the TEN BEST MOVIES OF 2008!

(weiterlesen …)

Minute Movie Review – Into the Wild

Samstag, Februar 2nd, 2008


Into the Wild, based on a book that is based on a true story, follows young Christopher McCandless on his journey away from his family, civilization and materialistic needs into the wild. A compelling story that everyone can somehow relate to, beautifully shot pictures and an amazing soundtrack help create a cinematic masterpiece that is even enjoyable after two and a half hours, which often are strangely disjointed.

Random Observations:

Into the Wild at

Director Sean Penn continues his unusual approach (for an actor) of not appearing in his own movies.

The movie got two Oscar nods – for editing and Hal Holbrook as best supporting actor. I personally thought the editing was often annoying and the performance by Holbrook wasn’t all that great – though the fact that I was forced to watch a dubbed version (Argh!) might have been partly responsible for that.