Archive for Jon Polito

Big Eyes

Posted in Drama, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 18, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Directed and produced by Tim Burton, BIG EYES is based on the true story of Walter Keane (Christoph Waltz), who was one of the most successful painters of the 1950s and early 1960s. The artist earned staggering notoriety by revolutionizing the commercialization and accessibility of popular art with his enigmatic paintings of waifs with big eyes. The truth would eventually be discovered though: Keane’s art was actually not created by him at all, but by his wife, Margaret (Amy Adams). The Keanes, it seemed, had been living a lie that had grown to gigantic proportions. BIG EYES centers on Margaret’s awakening as an artist, the phenomenal success of her paintings, and her tumultuous relationship with her husband, who was catapulted to international fame while taking credit for her work.

What people are saying:

“”Well-acted, thought-provoking, and a refreshing change of pace for Tim Burton, Big Eyes works both as a biopic and as a timelessly relevant piece of social commentary”. 3 1/2 stars

“Middling drama from Tim Burton, based on some real life art controversy. There’s some nice integration of pop art into the visuals and some evocatively cartoonish recreations of the era, but there’s something decidedly underwhelming about the film as a whole. Amy Adams is good as always if not always well served by the script, but Christoph Waltz can’t save a character that sadly descends into caricature well before the end. Not up to Ed Wood or even Big Fish standards (comparable as this is another rare film where Burton drops his gothic schtick – although you can clearly see that his animated fare owes something to the big eyed waifs featured in this). You can do worse. You can also do much better.” 2 stars

“Bright yet disturbing, Big Eyes is both an indicator of just how far women have come in the past 60 years and a comment on the commercialization of pop culture.” 4 stars

” It’s not a bad movie, but it is slow (I fell asleep twice). What to say… it’s an interesting story, but it’s just not told in a very riveting way. I wanted to like it more than I did, especially as I usually enjoy Amy Adams. But she seems to be somewhat “dialing it in” these days. I miss the performances of her early career. She amazed me in “Catch me if you can”, and again in “Junebug” (a rather odd little film but fascinating character study). This film can be summed up in one word: “Meh”. ” 2 1/2 stars

“Big Eyes certainly isn’t what you’re used to. It’s unique, it’s compelling, and its cast, led by Amy Adams and Christoph Waltz, make it entertaining from start to finish. As my girlfriend, Katie, said, “Some of it left me speechless.” Waltz plays the villain so well in every film, and especially in Big Eyes, where you do not realize he is the villain till later on. The story itself is fascinating, and unpredictable, and the “paint-off” at the end in court is the climax that the audience deserves. Although it is not perfect, it definitely shows glimpses of brilliance, which Tim Burton always provides the audience. It will certainly be remembered as one of Tim Burton’s most interesting and realist films, and will also be remembered when it comes to the topic of women’s rights and feminism. It is a sad story, made happy, and was a good film to start of my year at the movies.” 3 1/2 stars

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Revisited: The Crow

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , on December 20, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

On October 30, Devil’s Night in Detroit, Police Sergeant Albrecht (Ernie Hudson) is at the scene of a crime where Shelly Webster (Sofia Shinas) has been beaten and raped, and her fiancé Eric Draven (Brandon Lee) then died on the street outside, having been stabbed, shot, and thrown out of the window. The couple were to be married the following day, on Halloween. As he leaves for the hospital with Shelly, Albrecht meets a young girl, Sarah, who says that she is their friend, and that they take care of her. Albrecht tells her that Shelly is dying.

One year later, a crow taps on the grave stone of Eric Draven; Eric awakens and climbs out of his grave. Meanwhile, a low level street gang, headed by T-Bird (David Patrick Kelly), is setting fires in the city. Eric goes to his old apartment and finds it derelict. He has flashbacks to the murders, remembering that those responsible were T-Bird and his gang: Tin Tin, Funboy, and Skank. Eric soon discovers that any wounds he receives heal immediately. Guided by the crow, he sets out to avenge his and Shelly’s murders by killing the perpetrators.

The crow helps Eric locate Tin Tin; Eric kills him and then takes his coat. He then goes to the pawn shop where Tin Tin pawned Shelly’s engagement ring the year before. Eric forces the owner, Gideon, to return the ring and blows up the shop, letting Gideon live so that he can warn the others. Eric finds Funboy with Sarah’s mother, Darla. After killing Funboy, Eric talks to Darla, making her realize that Sarah needs her to be a good mother. He visits Albrecht, explaining who he is and why he is here. Albrecht tells him what he knows about Shelly’s death and that he watched as she suffered for thirty hours before dying. Eric touches Albrecht and receives from him the pain felt by Shelly during those hours. Sarah and her mother begin to repair their strained relationship. Sarah goes to Eric’s apartment and talks to him. She tells him that she misses him and Shelly. Eric explains that, even though they cannot be friends anymore, he still cares about her.

As T-Bird and Skank stop at a convenience store to pick up some supplies, Eric arrives and kidnaps T-Bird. Skank follows the pair and witnesses Eric killing T-Bird; he escapes and goes to Top Dollar, a top-level criminal who controls all the street gangs in the city. Top Dollar and his lover/half-sister Myca have become aware of Eric’s actions through various reports from witnesses. Top Dollar holds a meeting with his associates where they discuss new plans for their Devil’s Night criminal activities. Eric arrives looking for Skank. A gun fight ensures the deaths of nearly all present, with Eric succeeding in killing Skank. Top Dollar, Myca and Grange, Top Dollar’s right-hand man, escape.

Eric, having finished his quest, returns to his grave. Sarah goes to say goodbye to him and he gives her Shelly’s engagement ring. She is then abducted by Grange who takes her into the church where Top Dollar and Myca are waiting. Through the crow, Eric realizes what has happened and goes to rescue her. Grange shoots the crow as it flies into the church, making Eric lose his invincibility. Myca grabs the wounded crow, intending to take its mystical power. Albrecht arrives, intending to pay his respects to Eric, just after Eric is shot and wounded. Top Dollar grabs Sarah and climbs the bell tower as a fight ensues, with Grange being killed. The crow escapes Myca’s grip, clawing her eyes and sending her down the bell tower to her death. When Albrecht is wounded, Eric climbs to the roof of the church on his own. There, Top Dollar admits ultimate responsibility for what happened to Eric and Shelly. In their fight, Eric gives Top Dollar the thirty hours of pain he absorbed from Albrecht; the sensation sends Top Dollar over the roof of the church to his death. Sarah and Albrecht go to the hospital, and Eric is reunited with Shelley at their graves.

REVIEW:

In the early-mid 90s, there was a movement to be moody and depressed…goth if you will. One of the films that came out and helped strengthen this movement was The Crow. In the years since then, there has been a cult classic status has been achieved by this picture, but I wonder if it is really worth it.

What is this about?

Exactly one year after young rock guitarist Eric Draven and his fiancée are brutally killed by a ruthless gang of criminals, Draven — watched over by a hypnotic crow — returns from the grave to exact revenge.

What did I like?

Sting. In the late 90s/early 2000s, I became a fan of professional wrestling for a second thanks to the likes of The Rock, Stone Cold Steve Austin, Goldberg, and Sting. Why do I bring this up? Well, the first couple of times I watched this film, I didn’t really pick up on the similarities, outside of the face paint, but watching it tonight, I noticed the dark avenger persona Sting has been using in WCW, TNA, and now WWE comes from this film. You may scoff at that being a part of its legacy, but take a minute and think about how global wrestling is and to think that Sting has kept his character, which was based on this film, going for so long blows the mind!

Who you gonna call? Ernie Hudson never really got a chance to do anything in the Ghostbusters movies, but in everything else I’ve seen him in, the man has really shown he has some acting chops. It makes you wonder what kind of ectoplasm was holding him down in those classic films, doesn’t it? I like that, in this picture, he plays a cop with a heart of gold. A man who will do anything to protect his beat. In this day and age when police officers are just randomly beating, shooting, and killing anyone that looks at them wrong, it is a breath of fresh air to get that from a boy in blue. Shame that the real police can’t follow suit!

I am the night. 99% of this film takes place in the night. Why is this important? Well, think about the character of the crow. Does this look like someone who would do well in the middle of the day? No, but in the middle of the night and he flourishes. Unlike all 5 Spider-Man movies, the filmmakers knew what the time frame our hero works best in is and they used that to his advantage.

What didn’t I like?

Scum and villainy. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again, a good hero needs a good villain. The Crow, at least in this outing, doesn’t have one. I’m not saying he needs a name villain such as the Joker or the Kingpin, but someone who poses a threat to more than just a neighborhood block. The antagonist we are given is nothing more than a bully who happens to have hired thugs. Honestly, the thus are more intimidating than him. If he didn’t have the long hair, I doubt he’d even have been the one in charge! Ha!

Bye, Ling. Funny thing, Bai Ling is actually a normal character. Something must have happened to cause her to lose a few screws because everything of note that she has been in after this, the woman has been muy loco en da cabeza! Take Crank: High Voltage as an example! That isn’t why I bring her up, though. She seems to be learned in some sort of mysticism, but we never see that, other than her knowing the significance of the crow.

Candyman. Tony Todd is an intimidating presence, both in terms of his looks and stature, as well as his deep, booming voice. So, tell me why is it that this man is relegated to being a right-hand man? I would say this is one of his early film roles, which would allow me to forgive his lack of leading man ability, but this man been around since Platoon, if not longer! Maybe the filmmakers should have had a crossover, especially considering Todd’s success in Candyman. Can’t you see it? The Crow vs. Candyman? Fight to the…whatever it is that comes after death.

So, what is my final verdict on The Crow. To be honest, I don’t really see the lasting appeal, nor do I see why everyone is so in love with this picture. That being said, I appreciate the performance given by Brandon Lee, it is just too bad that we never got to see how far his star was going to rise. The action here is enough to appease those that don’t want to just watch someone brood for 2 hours. I feel as if the mother/daughter relationship as well as some more back story on our titular character would have added a little something to the picture, but that’s just me. Overall, I do think this was a decent picture and I would recommend it to those that are interested.

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

The Last Godfather

Posted in Comedy, Independent, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , on June 13, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

When he discovers that hapless Younggu may be his son, an aging American mob boss decides to groom the blundering lad to succeed him as the family’s next godfather. But with Younggu holding the power, organized crime may soon descend into chaos.

REVIEW:

Independent films tend to mostly be dramas and horror flicks, but every now and then a comedy will show up. Do indie comedies stand out from the crowd, though? Well, in the case of a film like The Last Godfather that could be true, but not for the right reasons.

Did I like anything?

Mob. I love mob flicks. As insane as this flick was, it has all the prerequisites of the mobster flick. The only thing missing was an Italian wedding!

Jay. It is good to see Jason Mewes doing something post-Jay. I was actually quite impressed with him, to be honest with you. He still doesn’t know when to shut up, but he does seem to have taken some acting lessons since I last saw him in Bitten.

Harvey. While I wonder why in the world he is even in this film, I can’t knock the fact that he is trying his darndest to give in a grand performance. He just suffers from a mediocre script and subpar costars.

What didn’t I like?

Younguu. First off, this guy looks to be about the same age as Harvey Keitel. Second,  he just seems to be out of place, and not in a good “fish out of water” kind of way. Lastly, are we supposed to believe he accidentally credited the Big Mac, beehive, and mini skirt? WTF?!?

Conspiracy. I half expected there to be some kind of conspiracy between Younguu and the guy who was the Don’s right hand man all this time. There was some, but not as much as one would expect. He was just hesitant, is all.

Length. A film like this did not need to be 1 hr 40 minutes. They easily could have cut a good 10-20 minutes out and it would have been 100x better, if you ask me.

The Last Godfather doesn’t really have anything going for it. If you’ve never heard of this flick and are wondering if you’ve missed anything by not seeing it, don’t worry. There is a reason this wasn’t released in American theaters (I think it was just a Korean release, but don’t quote me). I do not recommend this film. There are better things you can do with your time, like watch the grass grow.

2 out of 5 stars

Blankman

Posted in Action/Adventure, Comedy, Movie Reviews, Spoofs & Satire, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2010 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Darryl Walker (Damon Wayans) is a clumsy nerdy appliance repairman, who is a gifted genius and blessed with a pure heart and optimstic Pollyannish personality. He is childishly naive to the realities of living in an inner city neighborhood that is gradually decaying, political corruption, and the police are on strike. It takes the murder of his grandmother, an avid supporter of Alderman Marvin Harris’ anti corruption campaign for Mayor, by members of mobster Michael Minelli to awaken him to the realities of his city’s urban decay.

He expresses his frustrations by forcefully protecting an elderly transit passenger from being mugged, and by ranting about the general corruptible state that the city has become. He was so pure and shielded from reality presumably because of his inventing that he doesn’t even realize that there is a “crackhouse in front of our flat”, and is so oblivious to the dangers that such an environment poses that he tries to storm into it and rebuke the gang members

This new awareness to social issues, inspires Darryl to become Blankman. He uses his technical expertise to create weapons and gadgets. His brother Kevin, a tabloid news cameraman, goes along with this fantasy believing that it’s Darryl’s way to deal with the murder of his grandmother from an insane act of violence. He demands an audience with the police commissioner, but the police are not impressed with his actions, ridicule him, and arrest him for disturbing the peace. Darryl is released on orders to see a shrink. The shrink calls Darryl normal, but a geek, infuriating Kevin, who the shrink then attempts to psychoanalyze. After Darryl is nearly killed protecting a prostitute from her pimp, Kevin tries to get him to tone his activities down, advising and assisting him with a neighborhood watch. After he delivers a woman’s baby in an elevator, he is asked fo his name. Darryl just stares, and Kevin replies, “He’s gone blank, ma’am.” Both the lady and the reporters interpret this as a name: Blankman. Over time, he protects various other people in the community, building up a reputation and inspiring both the town and other superheroes, such as Gay Man and Midget Man. Kevin, hoping to win the affections of Kimberly Johns, a reporter at his TV station, begs Darryl to allow her to interview him. He relents, on the condition that she wear a carnation. He brings her to his secret hideout, an abandoned subway station, and they talk about how he took up his duties to memorialize his grandmother and prevent crime from happening to others. Impressed by his heroics and modesty, Kimberly immediately falls in love with Darryl and she even kisses him, causing an embarrassing reaction.

Mayor Harris, who refused Minelli’s attempts at bribery, attempts to bring in outside money to pay the IOUs the city has been giving its workers. He also asks that Blankman be there to protect the people and receive a special award. As the money is released, Minelli’s henchmen storm the bank and take the mayor hostage, threatening to detonate explosives. At the police chief’s request and the crowd’s chants, Blankman attempts to save the mayor, but is unable to disarm all the bombs. He reveals his identity to the mayor and tells him his grandmother truly believed in him. Mayor Harris wishes him well and warns him to run, saying he will give Blankman’s grandmother his love. Blankman runs out screaming as the bank explodes. The crowd, seeing his failure, turn on him, chasing him down the street. Darryl then gives up his heroic works for a normal life, getting a job at McDonald’s.

Wanting a great story, Kevin’s boss Jason Stone, a tabloid news junkie, manages to contact Minelli and trades knowledge of Blankman’s love for Kimberly in exchange for an exclusive interview. While doing research on Minelli and their grandmother’s death, Kimberly calls Kevin with the news. As Kevin answers, Minelli takes Kimberly hostage. Minelli issues a verbal threat to Kevin (thinking he is talking to Blankman), telling him he will kill Kimberly if Blankman doesn’t show up. Kevin rushes to Darryl’s workplace with the news, but Darryl refuses to help, wanting a normal life. Kevin finally convinces him with the news that Minelli had their grandmother killed and that he will wear the costume Darryl designed for him. The two rush to Darryl’s underground lair where Darryl once again becoms Blankman, and Kevin becomes his new sidekick but without a name. So he just goes by “Other Guy”. The two heroes then rush to the TV station.

After shooting the reporter interviewing him, Minelli becomes fed up. While threatening Stone, Blankman and Other Guy crash through the window and attempt a rescue. The two engage in a fight with Minelli’s goons, losing. They are placed in a lottery water tank and left to slowly drown. Stone and Kimberly are chained to desks and left to die as Minelli has hidden bombs in the building. At this point, Blankman calls in J-5, his robot assistant, to save them. J-5 drills hole in the tank and the pair kick their way to freedom at the last minute. The duo then search for the bombs, finding them in a ladies’ bathroom. Activating J-5’s “bomb disposal mode,” Blankman stuffs the explosives inside and frees Kimberly. Stone is left behind, a joke Other Guy wants to play on his boss. Once outside, the explosives detonate, destroying J-5. Distraught, Blankman threatens revenge.

Tracking Minelli to his hideout in a factory, the two prepare for the final battle. Other Guy, however, is overconfident and is wounded due to the fact that his costume isn’t bulletproof like Darryl’s. Blankman then defeats Minelli’s goons with his electric nunchucks. Just when Minelli is about to kill Other Guy, Blankman activates his jet-powered roller blades and captures Minelli and delivers him to the police. Blankman is once again acknowledged as a hero (this time, along with Other Guy) by the people, receiving the Mayor Harris Award for outstanding community service at a ceremony in their honor. Other Guy receives a Blankman t-shirt (much to Kevin’s disgust).

After the ceremony, Kevin introduces Kimberly to “Darryl.” The two make light conversation until Kimberly pretends to see a purse snatcher, putting Darryl on alert. Kimberly then reveals she knows that they are Blankman and Other Guy, and she kisses Darryl to prove it. Darryl then gets the same embarrassing reaction he had the first time.

Darryl falls to the ground in pain from his reaction with Kevin and Kimberly laughing at him. The film ends with a shot of a banner that reads “We Love You Blankman…and the Other Guy”.

REVIEW:

Before the superhero craze of the 2000s, everyone tried to be one in the early 90s. This is how we get Blankman.

Damon Wayans is a member of the super talented Wayans family. They just have good comedy genes (though I wonder if the gene pool is fading after seeing their last few films). The past month, I’ve been catching him on My Wife & Kids reruns. Watching him in this today, coupled with seeing his last show, really made me remember that this guy is a true talent.

As far as his character goes. It kind of grinded on me. I think this has a lot to do with me being such a fan on In Living Color. Blankman/Daryl sounded a lot like Anton mixed with Mr. Handi. For those that never watched the show or can’t remember, then this isn’t an issue, but for me it was a detracting, albeit a minor one.

David Alan Grier seems to always be playing the straight man. I guess if it works for you, why change it, right? There really isn’t much to say about him here, other than he does come off as a bit overbearing as the bigbrother, but that’s to be expected.

Robin Givens has never been lovelier than she is here. Something about the innocent reporter role she plays that really worked for her, and her acting chops weren’t too bad, either.

The action in this film is comic book-esque, but what do you expect? Its a superhero film, and they were fans of the old Batman TV show. Some scenes even have the sound effects written across the screen, which I thought came across as a nice touch.

Every good hero needs a villain. Jon Polito as Michael “The Suit” Minelli is Blankman’s. I would have liked for him to be a but more anti-Blankman. What I mean by that is, if Blankman has no powers and uses technical know how, then why couldn’t Minelli be driven mad by some sort of accident that gave him all kinds of wonderous powers? That’s just me, though.

Polito does what he can as a mob boss. If I’m not mistaken, this is a role he does often, so it’s almost instinctive.

Now, as I sat here watching this, haf of me was like WTF?!?, but the other half was quite entertained. Why, you may ask? Well, if you’ve ever seen Damon Wayans and David Alan Grier on In Living Color, then you know that they have awesome chemistry and comedic timing together. This isn’t the greatest film, but for what it is, it’s not too shabby. I think if Jim Carey would have been thrown into the mix, it might have been that much better. Sure, I think you can check it out, but don’t have too lofty of expectations. This is just a fun film, nothing more, nothing less.

3 out of 5 stars