Tag: Bobby Cannavale

MOVIE REVIEW | ***CLOSING DOWN WEEK*** The Station Agent (2003)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Charming and tragic are the best way to describe everything that works in this movie.”

Station 1
Recently, in my neighbourhood, I saw something that’s all too common these days.  A video shop that was closing down.  They had a big sign out the front, “4 movies for $10”.  I looked in my wallet, saw $30 and decided I wasn’t leaving that shop until I found 12 movies I thought were worth having on my DVD shelf.  Some were movies I’d seen before.  Some were movies I had a vague idea about and thought would be worth the $2.50 gamble.  Some were oddities I’d never even heard of, but they looked interesting enough.  So, thank you, Network Video Brunswick West.  I never rented anything from you or even had a membership, but I did find some cool, interesting and mysterious things on your almost empty shelves.

“It’s funny how people see me and treat me, since I’m really just a simple, boring person.”

I remember when The Station Agent came out over ten years ago.  It was one of those movies that made a splash much bigger than its budget and cast would have indicated.  It was a festival hit, it was a small indie that punched way above its weight, and it was the kind of thing movie snobs love.  It also proves that sometimes, the movie snobs are right.


Being a dwarf means that Fin (Peter Dinklage) has been noticed his entire life, and he’s obviously over it.  He does his best to avoid people whenever possible and seems to only have one friend, his boss at the model train shop where he works.  His friends list shrinks to zero when his boss dies, leaving Fin an old railway station house and some land in New Jersey.  At first, the station house seems a perfect for Fin.  He’s a little isolated and away from prying eyes, and it’s the perfect place to pursue his hobby of train spotting. (more…)

***2015 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Ant-Man (2015)

ant man movie 2015

“Sorry I’m late, I was saving the world. You know how it is.”

As the Marvel movie juggernaut rolls on, seemingly unstoppable, they have to dig deeper into their comic book roster of characters top populate this ever expanding world.  With mega popular characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four tied up with other studios, last year Marvel took a gamble on the little known Guardians of the Galaxy, and it paid off big.  I was skeptical of that movie, then found it amazing fun.  But even with that hindsight, and even with the always delightful Paul Rudd in the lead, I found it hard to look past the corny premise in the lead up to Ant-Man.


Scott Lang (Rudd) is released after a few years in jail for some Robin Hood style embezzling from big business to pay back exploited employees.  With a young daughter as his inspiration, Scott is determined to stay on the straight and narrow and find straight work.  But when his record as a felon makes that impossible, he takes one last job as a cat burglar so he can make the cash he needs to gain visitation rights with his kid.  He robs the house of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and finds a mysterious suit locked away in a heavy duty safe.  When curiosity gets the better of him, he tries the suit on and discovers it gives him the power to shrink to the size of an ant. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Ant-Man (2015)

ant man movie 2015

“Sorry I’m late, I was saving the world. You know how it is.”

As the Marvel movie juggernaut rolls on, seemingly unstoppable, they have to dig deeper into their comic book roster of characters top populate this ever expanding world.  With mega popular characters like the X-Men and Fantastic Four tied up with other studios, last year Marvel took a gamble on the little known Guardians of the Galaxy, and it paid off big.  I was skeptical of that movie, then found it amazing fun.  But even with that hindsight, and even with the always delightful Paul Rudd in the lead, I found it hard to look past the corny premise in the lead up to Ant-Man.


Scott Lang (Rudd) is released after a few years in jail for some Robin Hood style embezzling from big business to pay back exploited employees.  With a young daughter as his inspiration, Scott is determined to stay on the straight and narrow and find straight work.  But when his record as a felon makes that impossible, he takes one last job as a cat burglar so he can make the cash he needs to gain visitation rights with his kid.  He robs the house of Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and finds a mysterious suit locked away in a heavy duty safe.  When curiosity gets the better of him, he tries the suit on and discovers it gives him the power to shrink to the size of an ant. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Spy (2015)

Spy

“You really think you’re ready for the field? I once used defibrillators on myself. I put shards of glass in my fuckin’ eye. I’ve jumped from a high-rise building using only a raincoat as a parachute and broke both legs upon landing; I still had to pretend I was in a fucking Cirque du Soleil show! I’ve swallowed enough microchips and shit them back out again to make a computer. This arm has been ripped off completely and re-attached with this fuckin’ arm.”

With Bridesmaids, Paul Feig made one of the funniest movies of the last decade.  Yet, with all that goodwill, it still took me a long time to get around to watching The Heat.  And it turns out, with The Heat, Paul Feig made another really funny movie.  The premise was bigger and broader, but he proved to be up to the task of combining comedy and action.  So this time around, when Feig had another movie in the cinemas, I put my reservations about the seemingly goofy premise aside, and was quick to see Spy.


While handsome CIA spy and man of mystery Bradley Fine (Jude Law) gets to wear the tux and infiltrate the high society parties of international super villains, his desk bound partner, Susan Cooper (Melissa McCarthy) does just as much work while receiving none of the glory.  But when Fine is shot and it’s revealed that the real identities of every major CIA spy has been revealed to the bad guys, Susan’s anonymity becomes an asset.

Much to the chagrin of super spy Rick Ford (Jason Statham), Susan is chosen to go into the field to track down some missing nukes.  With Rayna Boyanov (Rose Byrne) in her sights, and the lascivious Italian Aldo (Peter Serafinowicz) as her ally, Susan goes after Sergio De Luca (Bobby Cannavale).   Then it’s a globe trotting adventure of intrigue and action as Susan takes on the bad guys, while proving she’s up to the task of taking on bad guys.

Here’s the thing about Spy, Paul Feig has made a proper, actual spy movie.  There are gadgets, and action, and shoot outs and plenty of really cool set pieces.  But the problem is, all of that spy and action stuff leaves very little room for Spy to be funny.  It made me laugh more than few times, but they were individual moments that were basically just standalone, random jokes.  They were jokes in spite of the movie, not a part of it.

There was one unexpected aspect of Spy though that I really liked.  Susan isn’t an inept character who succeeds despite her ineptitude.  There’s no dumb luck or hilarious misunderstandings that lead to unlikely victories.   Susan is a smart, capable character who succeeds because she’s smart and capable.

While I love Ghostbusters, the news of Paul Feig making an all women reboot, starring McCarthy hasn’t really made me care either way.  I know he’s a good enough writer and director that it won’t be terrible.  I just don’t think it needs to exist.  The ho-hum blandness of Spy makes my anticipation of the new Ghostbusters even more ambivalent.

Spy
Directed By – Paul Feig
Written By – Paul Feig

MOVIE REVIEW | Adult Beginners (2015)

adultbeginnerslarge

“Um… You can basically take the last three years of my life and light them on fire.”

Some materialistic, ruthless asshole has it all, living the high life in the big city.  Until some sort of humbling forces them to run home with their tail between their legs.  Back to their suburban or rural roots, where they gradually learn that there’s more to life than money and possessions.   That’s a pretty common story convention and sounds like a movie that in no way needs to be made yet again.  But maybe it’s such a common story convention because when done well, it works.  And when it’s done well, you get a movie like Adult Beginners.


After one small mistake, Jake (Nick Kroll) goes from New York tech investment genius to sleeping on a blow up mattress in his sister’s (Rose Byrne as Justine) spare bedroom.  As his suburban sister and brother in law (Bobby Cannavale as Danny) look for ways to improve their own financial situation, they decide to hire Jake on the cheap as a nanny for their three year old son, Teddy (Caleb and Matthew Paddock).  Jake’s obviously been gone from his childhood suburban surroundings a long time, and was happy to embrace his Manhattan dickishness as long as he could afford it. (more…)

***2013 RECAP*** MOVIE REVIEW | Blue Jasmine

CN_BlueJasmine_0
So it’s return to form time again for Woody Allen.  Except it’s only been two years and two movies since his last return to form, the Oscar winning Midnight in Paris.  Before that, it was 2008’s Vicki Christina Barcelona.  And before that, Match Point in 2005.  What I’m getting at is, is it really a return to form if you have one every couple of years?  Or is it just solid, consistent work, with the odd clunker (which even those, I tend to like) that’s inevitable when you’re as prolific as Allen?  Whatever it really is, according to the press, it’s another return to form for Woody Allen with Blue Jasmine.

Kate Blanchet is the Jasmine of the title.  A widow after her husband Hal, played by Alec Baldwin, killed himself on jail where he was serving time for some 2008ish, Global Financial Crisis type malfeasance.  Now she’s totally hit bottom and is forced to move in with her all but estranged sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in her small San Fan Cisco apartment.

Jasmine also has to contend with Ginger’s ex-husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), and current boyfriend, Bobby Cannavale, as the blue collared Chilli.  While a lot Blue Jasmine is built on the class struggles and clashes between the haves, like Jasmine and Hal, up against the have nots, Ginger and her circle of friends, it’s not really about a spoiled rich bitch receiving her comeuppance and learning there’s more to life than money. There are hints of that, but those without money are just as guilty of financial prejudices as those with it.

Cutting back and forth between the story of Jasmine’s old life falling apart, and her attempts to build a new one, Blue Jasmine does a great job of planting all sorts of assumptions about its characters in your mind, before totally flipping them on their heads and making you question who the heroes of the movie might actually be.  It takes a certain kind of skill as a writer and director to make a character played by Andrew Dice Clay the one you sympathise with the most, but Allen somehow manages it.

All the talk around Blue Jasmine is that Kate Blanchet is currently the front runner for the Best Actress Oscar.  Having now finally seen it, after months of praise surrounding her performance, it really did live up to the hype.  The way she plays the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, the occasional moments of questionable sanity, the stuck up snob looking down her nose, the few moments of happiness, the sad helplessness, the vindictive acts of sabotage…  Blanchet is all over the shop in this, but it’s never jarring or inconsistent.  You totally believe it when she goes form one extreme to the other.

As amazing as Blanchet is, credit has to go to everyone else around her as well.  Woody Allen’s always had a knack for building great ensembles, and here Clay, Carnnavale, Baldwin and Hawkins all play off her perfectly.  As well as Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K who also show up for small, but integral roles.

Blue jasmine isn’t a return to form for Woody Allen.  It’s just another reminder that he’s a really great writer, director and story teller, who, after almost fifty years and almost as many movies, still somehow has great stories to tell.

Blue Jasmine
Directed By – Woody Allen
Written By – Woody Allen

MOVIE REVIEW | Blue Jasmine (2013)

CN_BlueJasmine_0
So it’s return to form time again for Woody Allen.  Except it’s only been two years and two movies since his last return to form, the Oscar winning Midnight in Paris.  Before that, it was 2008’s Vicki Christina Barcelona.  And before that, Match Point in 2005.  What I’m getting at is, is it really a return to form if you have one every couple of years?  Or is it just solid, consistent work, with the odd clunker (which even those, I tend to like) that’s inevitable when you’re as prolific as Allen?  Whatever it really is, according to the press, it’s another return to form for Woody Allen with Blue Jasmine.

Kate Blanchet is the Jasmine of the title.  A widow after her husband Hal, played by Alec Baldwin, killed himself on jail where he was serving time for some 2008ish, Global Financial Crisis type malfeasance.  Now she’s totally hit bottom and is forced to move in with her all but estranged sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) in her small San Fan Cisco apartment.

Jasmine also has to contend with Ginger’s ex-husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay), and current boyfriend, Bobby Cannavale, as the blue collared Chilli.  While a lot Blue Jasmine is built on the class struggles and clashes between the haves, like Jasmine and Hal, up against the have nots, Ginger and her circle of friends, it’s not really about a spoiled rich bitch receiving her comeuppance and learning there’s more to life than money. There are hints of that, but those without money are just as guilty of financial prejudices as those with it.

Cutting back and forth between the story of Jasmine’s old life falling apart, and her attempts to build a new one, Blue Jasmine does a great job of planting all sorts of assumptions about its characters in your mind, before totally flipping them on their heads and making you question who the heroes of the movie might actually be.  It takes a certain kind of skill as a writer and director to make a character played by Andrew Dice Clay the one you sympathise with the most, but Allen somehow manages it.

All the talk around Blue Jasmine is that Kate Blanchet is currently the front runner for the Best Actress Oscar.  Having now finally seen it, after months of praise surrounding her performance, it really did live up to the hype.  The way she plays the constant feeling of being overwhelmed, the occasional moments of questionable sanity, the stuck up snob looking down her nose, the few moments of happiness, the sad helplessness, the vindictive acts of sabotage…  Blanchet is all over the shop in this, but it’s never jarring or inconsistent.  You totally believe it when she goes form one extreme to the other.

As amazing as Blanchet is, credit has to go to everyone else around her as well.  Woody Allen’s always had a knack for building great ensembles, and here Clay, Carnnavale, Baldwin and Hawkins all play off her perfectly.  As well as Peter Sarsgaard and Louis C.K who also show up for small, but integral roles.

Blue jasmine isn’t a return to form for Woody Allen.  It’s just another reminder that he’s a really great writer, director and story teller, who, after almost fifty years and almost as many movies, still somehow has great stories to tell.

Blue Jasmine
Directed By – Woody Allen
Written By – Woody Allen