Tag: sean penn

MOVIE REVIEW | Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)

In a nutshell, Bored & Dangerous says: “A modern classic in a genre that is so easy to dismiss because so much deserves dismissal.”

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“All I need are some tasty waves, a cool buzz, and I’m fine.”

Teen movies generally have a pretty short shelf life.  They’re normally so of the moment and so concerned with what’s cool then, that they date themselves while they’re still playing in theatres.  But there are a few great teen movies that still hold up decades later, and not just nostalgically for the people who saw it at the time, but for new generations as well.  These teen movies live on because they tackle universal, timeless issues that effected teens then, now and forever.  Movies like Fast Times at Ridgemont High.

Following a school year in the life of half a dozen or so school kids, Fast Times covers all the obvious character bases.  There’s Stacy (Jennifer Jason Leigh) and Linda (Phoebe Cates) the two hot girls obsessed with growing up as fast as they can.  Brad (Judge Reinhold), the goofy older brother trying to figure out what life will mean from outside of high school next year.  Mark (Brian Backer) and Mike (Robert Romanus), the two dweebs who want to be cooler than they are.  Charles (Forest Whitaker) the jock, and Spicoli (Sean Penn) the stoner.  Those descriptions are clichéd, I know.  But part of the genius of this movie its ability to start with clichés, then flesh them all out in believable, real ways. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | The Falcon and the Snowman (1985)

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“The moment you accepted money, you became professionals. It’s just beginning.”

The Falcon and the Snowman isn’t a title that conjures up ideas of serious film making, or gritty storytelling.  Maybe I’m just too much of a Burt Reynolds fan, but all my life, it’s always just made me think of Smokey and the Bandit.  So, when I finally decided to watch it, without ever bothering to look into to what it was about, who was in it, or when it was made, I was surprised to discover and 80s made, 70s set, Cold Wear spy thriller starring Sean Penn.  Now that is a description that would have made me watch The Falcon and the Snowman long ago.


Getting a cushie job for a private defense contractor, Christopher (Timothy Hutton) spends his days in an ultra secure office with two other people.  Left to their own devices, that means a lot of day time drinking and not much else.  One day though, Christopher notices a communique come through from the CIA, possibly by mistake.  Highlighting the CIA’s intentions to have the Australian Prime Minister overthrown, Christopher begins to get a little disillusioned with his government.  Being the 70s, the Cold War is still firing on all cylinders.  So disillusionment with the government leads to selling secrets to the Russians. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | ***REMAKE WEEK*** All the King’s Men (2006)

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“Listen to me, you hicks! Lift up your eyes and look at God’s blessed and unfly-blown truth. This is the truth! You’re a hick. Nobody ever helped a hick but a hick himself.”

2006, a time when America was balls deep into the reign of a president in the pockets of oil companies and any other corporation who might be able to make a few bucks out of war in the Middle East.  I’m sure for the movie studio, making a movie about political corruption, based on a famous novel that had already been turned into a classic movie, seemed like a sure thing.  Add to that an all star cast, and I’m sure it surprised more than a few people when it ended being a $42million loss.  Well, it turns out, All the King’s Men is better than the box office receipts would have you believe.


Sean Penn is Willie Stark, an altruistic everyman who only wants the best for his state of Louisiana.   When the current administration, represented by Tiny Duffy (James Gandolfini) notice he’s gaining grass roots support, they decide to embrace his popularity and make him one of their own.  One step ahead, Willie double crosses Duffy and sweeps the next election, becoming the most popular Governor in the state’s history…  For the time being. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Casualties of War (1989)

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“Man, that boy was bagged and tagged the minute they cut his orders to this place. They should’ve just shot him at home.”

As far as Vietnam War movies go, the big ones are Apocalypse Now and Platoon. With good reason, they are the two that got plenty of critical acclaim and box office at the time, and have endured well in the years since. But there’s another Vietnam War movie that I saw once, on TV in the early 90s, that I still remember vividly. I would have been maybe 12 or 13, so probably not old enough for the horrific stuff the movie addressed and depicted. But in the more than 20 years since, I have never forgotten the impact of this movie. Which is why I think it’s unfair that Casualties of War isn’t on the same pedestal as Coppola and Stone’s Vietnam classics.


Riding on a metro train sometime in the late 60s, Errikson (Michael J Fox) sees a young Vietnamese woman and starts flashing back to his days in ‘Nam. Three weeks into his first tour of duty, he’s saved during a firefight by his sergeant, Meserve (Sean Penn).   Like the rest of his platoon, Meserve has been hardened by the war, and while Errikson is a little put off by their actions, he can’t help but realise that their ruthless attitude is a big part of why they have survived so long. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Colors (1988)

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“There’s two bulls standing on top of a mountain. The younger one says to the older one: Hey pop, let’s say we run down there and fuck one of them cows. The older one says: No son. Let’s walk down and fuck ’em all”.

Dennis Hopper began his directorial career in style. With Easy Rider, he made one of the most influential, iconic and revered movies of the last half century. Over the next 40 years, he only made eight more, and none came anywhere near the critical or audience success of his debut.


For someone who started with something so ground breaking, and who seems to have one of the most unique points of view in Hollywood (and who was never afraid to express it), I’m surprised by how anonymous the rest of his filmography as a director is. In fact, when I decided to watch Colors, it was based on the two lead actors. I had no idea Hopper directed it until his named popped up in the opening credits. (more…)

MOVIE REVIEW | Carlito’s Way (1993)

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A movie starring one of my favourite actors of the 70s.  A movie made by one of the most interesting directors of the 80s.  A movie with the kind of crime storyline that usually has my interest immediately.  This movie had a lot of reasons for me to have seen it long before now, but somehow, it had evaded me.  Maybe the bearded Pacino on the poster always made me assume it was Serpico.  Whatever the reasons, before watching it, I had no idea what to expect from Carlito’s Way.


Al Pacino is Carlito, and ex New York heroin kingpin who just got out of a 35 year jail sentence after only five years, thanks to his lawyer, Kleinfeld, an almost unrecognisable Sean Penn underneath an awesome jewfro.  Once free, Carltio swears he’s on the straight and narrow.  He just needs to make $75,000 so he can buy into a car rental business in Miami and leave the criminal world forever.  Which is good, because in movies, every time a con, or ex-con, decides to go on the straight and narrow after one last job, they always get to live happily ever after.

But like Pacino’s more famous criminal trying to go straight in The Godfather Part III, every time Carlito thinks he’s out, they drag him back in.  Buying into what should be a straight business and running a nightclub, he’s almost immediately surrounded by the people and the world he’s trying to avoid.  But the worst influences aren’t the criminals and street hoods from his past, the worst influence is the increasingly manic and coked up Kleinfeld.  But honor bound after his early release from prison, Carlito feels like he can never say no to any favour his lawyer asks, or sometimes begs.

The glass half full, happily ever after future of Carltio is represented by Gail (Penelope Ann Miller), a ballet dancer and his girlfriend until he cut her off while in the joint.  Now back on the street, they pick up where things left off and she becomes his major motivation for getting out of New York and into his boring, but legit life, in Miami.

Pacino copped a bit of flack for his over the top Cuban accent in Scarface and I wonder if that made him a little gun shy for Carlito’s Way.  Because while references are made quite often to the fact that he’s not playing an Italian-American in this movie, his accent slips into tough guy, mobster Italian quite often.

Carlito’s Way is no way one of the genre’s best, in no way one of Pacino’s best and in no way one of DePalma’s best.  But it is still a pretty cool and more than serviceable street crime action / drama.  The biggest and best surprise was Penn.  He doesn’t normally go in for genre fare like this, and he doesn’t often do these big, over the top characters.  So if for no other reason, it’s worth watching just to him to chew the scenery and act as big as he possibly can.

Carlito’s Way
Directed By – Brian DePalma
Written By – David Koepp