Tag: Jack Nicholson

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FOREIGN LANGUAGE WEEKEND*** Infernal Affairs (2002)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous syas: “I’ll definitely be watching the two sequels (prequels?).”

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The main reason I started this blog was to make me watch more movies, and to vary the kinds of movies I watched.  The first part of that has been well and truly accomplished with me watching hundreds of movies for the first time, instead of falling back on old favourites over and over again.   But l’m not sure if I’ve varied my selections enough.  I still watch mainly American movies, with directors, writers and actors that make them a pretty safe bet. So this year, I’m forcing myself to seek out more international movies.  With Foreign Language Weekends, every weekend(ish) during 2016, I’ll review two(ish) non-English language movies.

“Remember this, if you see someone doing something but at the same time watching you… then he is a cop.”

As a wannabe movie nerd, I know there’s a real hole in my knowledge of and appreciation for Hong King cinema, specifically Hong Kong action cinema.  I think before now, John Woo’s Hard Boiled might have been the total extent of my Hong Kong viewing.  And even then, I was a little underwhelmed by what I’m lead to believe is a bit of a bench mark in the genre.  Maybe I’d seen too many derivative American knock offs to really appreciate what Hard Boiled had to offer, but it didn’t compel me to see more.  What did compel me to see more was knowing that Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was a remake of the Hong Kong movie, Infernal Affairs.


Tony Leung is Chan Wing-yan, a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of triads, he’s the Leonardo DiDacprio of Infernal Affairs.  Andy Lau is dirty cop Lau Kin-ming, on the payroll of the same triads, let’s call him, Matt Damon.  Their shared triad boss is Eric Tsang’s Hon Sam, AKA Jack Nicholson.  If you’ve seen The Departed, you know this is a cat and mouse game where Leung and Lau are both constantly cat and mouse at the same time.  Each is hot on the other’s trail, trying to uncover their deception, while all the time knowing they’re also being pursued by one another.  It’s an ouroboros, snake eating its own tail kind of deal. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Reds (1981)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “Snippets of real life people sharing their real life memories made me care more about the characters and the story more than anything between Beatty and Keaton.”

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“Jack dreams that he can hustle the American working man, who’s one dream is that he could be rich enough not to work, into a revolution led by his party.”

In 1979, Warren Beatty was personally nominated for two Oscars for his work on Heaven Can Wait.  That’s nothing short of amazing.  What’s even more amazing, is that he backed up and did it again just a couple of years later.  But while Heaven Can Wait was well made fluff, the following year’s movie to get Beatty all of that Oscar attention was nothing less than an epic.  A passion project he’d been trying to get off the ground for almost 20 years.  The three hour biopic, Reds.


It’s 1915, and radical journalist John Reed (Beatty) is giving a lecture based on his radical ideas.  A lecture attended by rich and married socialite, Louise Bryant (Diane Keaton).  Blown away by his ideas and realising how wasteful her life has been, Louise throws it all away to be with Reed.  Once together, Louise starts to discover her own love of writing.  Together, they get deeper and deeper in politics and activism.  They also become close with playwright Eugene O’Neill (Jack Nicholson).   Close enough for Louise to have an affair with Jack.  But John convinces her that their love is too strong to be harmed by the odd infidelity, which is handy, because he’s been rooting around too. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***FLOP WEEK 2*** Mars Attacks! (1996)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “There’s a mean, casualness to the deaths and violence of Mars Attacks! that makes the harmless, dumbness a little hard to swallow.”

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“We know they’re extremely advanced technologically, which suggests – very rightfully so – that they’re peaceful. An advanced civilization, by definition, is not barbaric.”

Jack Nicholson, Pierce Brosnan, Sarah Jessica Parker, Annette Benning, Glenn Close, Danny DeVito, Jack Black, Michael J Fox, Martin Short, Natalie Portman, Rod Steiger, Pam Grier… All directed by Tim Burton.  It has to be really, really hard work to take a cast like that, and make a movie that bombs so hard, it’s more famous now for bombing than it is for its enormous, A list cast.  Sure, some of those people weren’t as famous in 1996 as they would become later.  But Nicholson is Nicholson, Brosnan had just taken over as James Bond, and Burton’s Ed Wood had won a couple of Oscars just two years earlier.  So how did so much promise, result in the monumental bombing that was Mars Attacks! ?


Opening on the horrific sight of a herd of cattle, on fire, running down a country road, a flying saucer is also spotted leaving the scene.  When that ship doesn’t make it back to its home planet of Mars, a fleet of hundreds more are dispatched, headed for Earth.  When their approach is uncovered, US president James Dale (Nicholson) alerts the nation, and tries to keep his citizens calm, by saying that he believes the contact is friendly. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Witches of Eastwick (1987)

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“I think… no, I am positive… that you are the most unattractive man I have ever met in my entire life. You know, in the short time we’ve been together, you have demonstrated every loathsome characteristic of the male personality and even discovered a few new ones. You are physically repulsive, intellectually retarded, you’re morally reprehensible, vulgar, insensitive, selfish, stupid, you have no taste, a lousy sense of humor and you smell. You’re not even interesting enough to make me sick.”

You wanna talk about an eclectic career? In the 60s, George Miller was a doctor, in the late 70s, he decided to become a film maker, and made one of the most iconic Australian movies of all time, Mad Max. In the years since, he’s made hugely successful, family friendly franchises, like Babe and Happy Feet, prestige stuff like The Year My Voice Broke and Lorenzo’s Oil. And just this year, at 70 bloody years old, he pretty much redefined what action movies can be, with Mad Max: Fury Road. But amongst that wide ranging career, one movie stands out as the most perplexing to me. A silly little 80s piece of puff about love, loneliness and the devil. A movie called The Witches of Eastwick.


In the sleepy, idyllic town of Eastwick, three local broads have a problem. A lack of man problem. Alexandra (Cher) is a single mother of one, after the death of her husband. Jane (Susan Sarandon) is a single mother of none after her inability to have kids lead to a divorce. While Sukie (Michelle Pfeiffer) is a single mother of six after her husband ran off. One night, over a few wines, the three women wish for the perfect man to save them from singledom. The next day, an eccentric millionaire arrives in town, buying a mysterious local mansion that has been empty for years. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #21. Chinatown (1974)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
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“Course I’m respectable. I’m old. Politicians, ugly buildings, and whores all get respectable if they last long enough.”

Film noir of the 40s and 50s is one of the most quintessentially American contributions to cinema.  But 30 years after its peak, it took a little Polish fella directing and one of the leaders of the American new wave starring, to make what might be one of the best examples of film noir, with Chinatown.


A former cop and now PI in 1930s Los Angeles, Jake Gittes (Jack Nicholson) is fresh off finding one cheating spouse when he’s commissioned to find another.  Evelyn Mulwray (Diane Ladd) is sure her husband Hollis is cheating, and she pays Jake to find the truth.  Tailing Hollis first leads to a town meeting where he opposes the construction of a new dam to help supply the drought ridden LA with water.  Eventually, Jake spots Hollis with a young woman, snaps a few photos and they end up on the cover of the paper the next day. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Prizzi’s Honor (1985)

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“Charley, you swore an oath of blood, my blood and yours, that you would always put the family before anything else in your life. We are calling on you to keep that sacred oath.

John Huston is a legendary director who I don’t know nearly enough about and whose movies I haven’t seen nearly enough of. Jack Nicholson is an actor who I generally enjoy, but I would never see him as a reason to see a movie. Kathleen Turner and Angelica Huston are two broads who I don’t really get. But the combination of all of these random people was intriguing enough for me to watch Prizzi’s Honor without knowing a single thing about its story.


Charlie Partanna (Nicholson) is a hitman for the New York Prizzi crime family. At a mob wedding, he sees Irene Walker (Turner) and is immediately obsessed. Tracking her down in LA, Irene initially claims to be some sort of financial adviser. But Charlie soon learns that like him, Irene is also a killer for hire. This only makes his interest in her stronger, and soon, the two have eloped and married. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***AFI WEEKEND*** #33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975)

“The American Film Institute’s list of the 100 Greatest Movies was selected by AFI’s blue-ribbon panel of more than 1,500 leaders of the American movie community to commemorate 100 Years of Movies”. Every weekend(ish) during 2015, I’ll review two(ish), counting them down from 100 to 1.
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“In one week, I can put a bug so far up her ass, she don’t know whether to shit or wind her wristwatch.”

Books being adapted into movies rarely seem to live up to the source material according to fans of that source material.  And in the case of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, original author Ken Kesey thought the adaptation was so off the mark at script stage, he refused to even watch the finished product.   But here’s the thing, books and the movies they inspire are two totally different things.  There are different rules, different tropes, different things that work and don’t.  I’ve read Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, and it’s great.  I’ve seen Milos Forman’s One Flew over the Cuckoo’s Nest and it’s great.  Just in a different way.


Thinking it will be easier than working on a prison farm, small time crook and general fuck up RP McMurphy (Jack Nicholson) fakes minor insanity and is admitted to a State Mental Hospital.  Once there, he meets a variety of inmates, from the uptight and impotent Dale (William Redfield), the delusional Martini (Danny DeVito), the young, stuttering Billy Bibbit (Brad Dourif) and the supposedly deaf mute native American, Chief Bromden (Will Sampson).  On the other side of the glass is the hospital staff, including head doctor Spivey (Dean R Brooks), and the despotic nurse who really runs the ward, Nurse Ratched (Louise Fletcher). (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Passenger (1975)

The Passenger
How do you get on board with a movie when the protagonist has almost no redeeming qualities?  It’s hard to get invested in a story when you don’t really care about what happens to the main character.  I don’t mean a situation where you don’t like them, that can be just effective as making sympathetic character.  I mean what happens when you just don’t care about that person?  Do they reach their goals?  Do they live or die?  Do they grow or develop as a character along the way?  In the case of The Passenger, director Michelangelo Antonioni seemingly ignores all that gets you on board by giving a master class in the technical side film making.

Jack Nicholson plays David Locke, a journalist in Africa making a documentary about various troubles faced by the post-colonial continent in the form of war lords, rebel armies and general unrest.  After being almost stranded in the desert, he cracks a bit of a tantrum back at his hotel room.  His tantrum happens to coincide with finding the dead body of his hotel neighbour, an English journalist named Robertson.  And because he’s a big sook who’s decided he doesn’t like his life, wife or any other regular stuff the rest of us go through every day, he swaps identities with the dead man and reports to hotel reception that in fact, he, David Locke has died.

I think that’s what bugged me most about Nicholson’s character, we never saw any real motivation for going to such extreme measures.  Anywho, he does and the movie rolls on.  In Robertson’s belongings, Locke finds an appointment book and decides to go method with his performance and actually show up to the meetings scheduled in the book.  It turns out the real Robertson was involved in some pretty shady shit and Nicholson’s Locke is dragged into it too.

Along the way, his wife becomes suspicious that maybe Locke isn’t quite so dead and heads off to follow him on his European sightseeing sojourn.  On which he has met a saucy young university student played by the saucy young Maria Schneider.  The basis of their quickly flowering relationship is given about as much attention as the basis of Locke deciding to throw is whole life away in the first place.

But here’s the good bit, none of that matters.  The Passenger is the kind of movie you could watch with the sound down and still be blown away.  From Africa, to England, to Spain, the locations all look absolutely gorgeous.  And Antonioni’s camera captures it all perfectly.  Always in motion, the camera is more active in telling the story than any other movie I can think of.  And if you do turn the volume up, you get a really solid Nicholson performance that‘s worth watching, even if his character barely is.

Antonioni definitely saves the best for last.  The final scene, a seven minute single take that starts in a hotel room until the camera somehow moves through a grated window, into a courtyard and around the cavalcade of characters who have all descended on the climax.  I haven’t said many good things about the story, but it really does pay off when you get this amazing ending.  Too bad most of The Passenger’s amazingness comes from the technical film making skill on display, not from any empathy for the characters.

The Passenger
Directed By – Michelangelo Antonioni
Written By – Mark Peploe, Michelangelo Antonioni, Peter Wollen

MOVIE REVIEW | Infernal Affairs (2002)

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As a wannabe movie nerd, I know there’s a real hole in my knowledge of and appreciation for Hong King cinema, specifically Hong Kong action cinema.  I think before now, John Woo’s Hard Boiled might have been the total extent of my Hong Kong viewing.  And even then, I was a little underwhelmed by what I’m lead to believe is a bit of a bench mark in the genre.  Maybe I’d seen too many derivative American knock offs to really appreciate what Hard Boiled had to offer, but it didn’t compel me to see more.  What did compel me to see more was knowing that Martin Scorsese’s The Departed was a remake of the Hong Kong movie, Infernal Affairs.


Tony Leung is Chan Wing-yan, a cop who goes undercover to infiltrate a gang of triads, he’s the Leonardo DiDacprio of Infernal Affairs.  Andy Lau is dirty cop Lau Kin-ming, on the payroll of the same triads, let’s call him, Matt Damon.  Their shared triad boss is Eric Tsang’s Hon Sam, AKA Jack Nicholson.  If you’ve seen The Departed, you know this is a cat and mouse game where Leung and Lau are both constantly cat and mouse at the same time.  Each is hot on the other’s trail, trying to uncover their deception, while all the time knowing they’re also being pursued by one another.  It’s an ouroboros, snake eating its own tail kind of deal.

Co-directors Wai-keung Lau and Alex Mak really know how to turn the screws on a story and wring out every drop of tension in a given scene.  Even though I’d seen The Departed and knew where the story was ultimately headed, I couldn’t help getting caught up in the suspense of it all.  Every time one cop almost caught the other, I was genuinely invested in and excited by what came next.

For a movie that seems so reliant on its Hong Kong setting, characters and history, it’s amazing how faithful Scorsese’s Boston centric remake was.  The Departed really is a beat by beat remake with only a few changes.  The most obvious being the pacing.  If you thought The Departed crammed a lot of plot, twists and turns into 151 minutes, you might get whiplash watching Infernal Affairs tell the same story in just over 90.

In The Departed, we see Damon’s character as a young boy when he meets Nicholson’s for the first time.  We see DiCaprio introduced to Nicholson’s gang, we see him stuck on the edges of the gang, we see him gradually earn the trust and acceptance of the gang.  Infernal Affairs starts with Leung already ten years into his undercover assignment and Lau already working for Tsang.  We’re dropped in the middle of this thing and expected to hit the ground running.

As faithful a remake as The Departed is, having already seen Scorsese’s version in no way means the shine has been taken of Lau and Mak’s original.  In fact, having seen The Departed so many times made me appreciate Infernal Affairs even more.  It’s really interesting and entertaining to see how another culture approaches a story like this, the different rhythms and techniques of film making lead to a really unique film, even if the plots are almost carbon copies.  I’ll tell you this much, I’ll definitely be watching the two sequels (prequels?) that come with the Hong Kong original.

Infernal Affairs
Directed By – Wai-keung Lau, Alan Mak
Written By – Alan Mak, Felix Chong

MOVIE REVIEW | Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired (2008)

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During World War II, Roman Polanksi’s mother was killed while a prisoner at Auscwhich.  In 1968, Roman Polanski directed the modern classic Rosemary’s Baby.  In 1969, Roman Polanksi’s pregnant wife, Sharon Tate, was murdered by Charles Manson’s followers.  In 1974, Roman Polanski directed the modern classic Chinatown.  In 1977, Roman Polanski was arrested for the sexual assault of a thirteen year old girl.  In 1978, Romani Polanksi fled to France to avoid imprisonment for the sexual assault.  In 2002, Roman Polanski won the Best Director Academy Award for The Pianist.  Yep, all that happened in real life, to one dude.

Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired is an impressively dense and thorough documentary that manages to cover a lot of this stranger than fiction life with surprising detail in its economical 99 minute running time.   While around half of it is devoted to the sexual abuse trial, the other half really does give an in depth overview of what came before, with a brief prologue of what has happened since.

With a story so divisive, Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired manages the tough job of never seeming to really take a side.  At no stage did I get the impression that director Marina Zonvich sees Polanksi as a persecuted, artistic genius, or as a sickening paedophile who escaped justice to live the good life in France.  It couldn’t have been easy to not take a side and show even a little bias in a story this polarising.

Having said all of that, it did make me feel a little more sympathy for Polanski.  Not for what he did that night to a 13 year old girl in Jack Nicolson’s house, but for his decision to flee to Europe.  Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired intricately lays out the trial, piece by piece, including interviews with lawyers from both sides, and exposes the judge as being more interested in the fame he might achieve, than he was in the case itself.

Unfortunately, this documentary was made before Polanksi’s 2009 arrest in Switzerland and the US prosecutor’s unsuccessful attempt at extradition.  So that major, recent addition to the bonkers story of Polanski’s life doesn’t get a mention, but that might be for the best.  I can’t see how Zenovich could have found room for such a huge new chapter in this story.  Maybe that’s a topic covered in 2011’s Roman Polanksi: A Film Memoir (although based on the trailer, it looks like a bit of a puff piece, wank job).

If you know anything at all about Polanski and the sexual assault case, you probably already have a firm opinion on the matter and I don’t think Roman Polanski: Wanted and Desired will change that, no matter which side of the fence you fall on.  What I do think it will do, is make you understand Polanski’s actions after the trial a little better.  Has he been adequately punished for his crimes?  This documentary isn’t interested in answering that question.  And it’s that kind objectivity that makes it so interesting and effective.

Roman Polanksi: Wanted and Desired
Directed By – Marina Zenovich
Written By – Marina Zenovich, Joe Bini, P.G Morgan

MOVIE REVIEW | Room 237 (2012)

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If you’ve ever seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, you probably thought you’d seen a pretty good (but kind of overrated) horror movie about a dude going nuts, a son who can read minds and a wife who tries to keep this crazy family together.  If you’ve never seen Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining, you probably just know it for the iconic sight of Jack Nicholson cutting his way through a door with an axe before delivering his demonic take on “Here’s Johnny”.  Whatever you think this movie is about, all I have to say is, you’re wrong dummy, stop being so dumb you big dumbo.  Because Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining is obviously about the genocide of the native American Indians, faking the moon landing and Nazis.  So many Nazis.


For Room 237, director Rodney Ascher assembles a group of obsessives who have their own interesting takes on what The Shining really means.  It’s an impressive effort from Ascher, because it couldn’t have been easy finding time for them to record their thoughts on the movie in between long, sustained bouts of picking peanuts out of their own crap.  To reiterate, these guys are pretty nuts.

Through voiceover, five nut bags are given the chance to tell their story and give their interpretations of The Shining.  We never see them, only hear their voices.  Maybe their respective mental institutions allowed tape recorders but not video cameras.  As they draw their dangerously long bows in making connections between their wack job theories and The Shining, Room 237 meticulously shows the portions of the film they’re referring to.  Even with zoom ins, slow motion replays and sometimes even frame by frame presentations of their “proof”, every one of those theories comes across as more unlikely than the last.

None of that is to say however, that Room 237 isn’t fascinating.  Watching a few seconds of The Shining broken down and analysed in the most intricate detail, to show you all the (possible) references to the Holocaust is amazingly compelling.  Somehow, something as simple as showing that a chair that’s visible in the background of one shot is missing when the camera cuts back to the same shot seconds later, is really interesting when backed up by the ramblings of a mad man.

And while I love a playful romp about genocide and the Holocaust as much as the next guy, these theories are pretty tame next to the assertion that The Shining is actually Kubrick’s admission that he helped fake the moon landing.  The best proof of which is that in one shot of The Shining, we see a key ring that says “ROOM No 273”.  If you rearrange those letters and ignore a couple, it says “moon”.  Wow, I just got goose bumps typing that.

Whether you love The Shining, think it’s just an OK horror and that everyone should just settle down, or have never even seen it, Room 237 is really entertaining.  The crazier the wing birds and their theories get, the more entertaining it is to listen to them clutching at straws to their barely there connections.  I can’t wait for Ascher’s follow up, when some wackadoos pull apart City Slickers 2: The Search for Curley’s Gold, to prove how it’s all a prescient allegory for the Global Financial Crisis and 9/11.

Directed By – Rodney Ascher
Written By – Rodney Ascher