Tag Archives: Ethan Hawke

The Kid (2019) Review

Time: 100 Minutes
Cast:
Ethan Hawke as Pat Garrett
Dane DeHaan as Billy the Kid
Jake Schur as Rio Cutler
Leila George as Sara Cutler
Chris Pratt as Grant Cutler
Adam Baldwin as Bob Olinger
Vincent D’Onofrio as Sheriff Romero
Director: Vincent D’Onofrio

In 1879 Rio (Jake Schur) and his teenage sister (Leila George) go on the run across the American Southwest to escape from their violent uncle. Along the way, Rio encounters the infamous outlaw Billy the Kid (Dane DeHaan) and the legendary lawman Pat Garrett (Ethan Hawke). He soon finds himself caught in the crossfire as Billy and Garrett square off in a deadly game of cat and mouse.

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I heard about The Kid for a little while, it was an upcoming western directed by Vincent D’Onofrio and stars Dane DeHaan, Ethan Hawke and Chris Pratt. It looked alright but I didn’t have a great desire to see it as soon as possible, I didn’t know when I’d actually see it. Then I found it on a plane so that’s how I watched it. The Kid isn’t great and it’s not nearly as exciting as the trailers made it look, but it’s directed pretty well and most of the performances are solid, bringing the movie up to a level just above average.

I heard that much of the movie is inaccurate to real life, but I’m not familiar with the real life Billy the Kid and Pat Garrett, so I’m just going to disregard all real life events for the time being and treat the movie as a fictional story. I should mention that what is shown in the trailer isn’t necessarily what the movie is focussing on (for example, Chris Pratt’s character isn’t a huge part of the movie), so it’s probably best not to watch it if you haven’t already. It’s a slow burn of a movie, which isn’t necessarily bad but it can feel like a drag at points, with some occasionally some bursts of reasonably entertaining moments. At a point I just stopped caring about the story and just watched it play out. As far as Westerns go it’s fine, but it doesn’t do enough to really separate itself from similar movies. The movie is an hour and 40 minutes long but it feels like at least 2 hours long.

This is probably Dane DeHaan’s best performance in a little while, here he plays Billy the Kid and it was great casting. Ethan Hawke is great as usual, here playing real life lawman Pat Garrett. If there’s a reason to see the movie, it’s for both of these actors giving solid performances. Chris Pratt this time plays a villain as the main characters’ uncle, he’s actually really convincing and I’d like to see him in more of these kind of darker roles. However he probably has less than 10 minutes of screentime, so don’t expect much of him. Jake Schur and Leila George are some characters who get caught between Billy the Kid and Ethan Hawke. I think it’s worth pointing out that Jake’s father Jordan is a producer on the movie, which is probably the only reason he was cast in this role. Jake’s character is really the protagonist of the movie, even when DeHaan and Hawke get the spotlight, Schur is in almost every scene, and unfortunately him and his story just wasn’t really interesting to me. On paper I saw what they were going for, but it was just difficult to care about that story. Actingwise, Schur has some okay moments but on the whole just didn’t quite work, especially when placed alongside Hawke and DeHaan. George fares a little better but you see less of her halfway through the movie.

The Kid is the first film I’ve seen from Vincent D’Onofrio, and he clearly knows his way behind a camera. Locations and production designs are appropriate for a western, and the violence and action scenes, while not very present, were handled well. Occasionally there are some parts of the directing that weren’t so great, the thing that stood out to me most is that Chris Pratt has an incredibly fake looking beard even though it is minor, just very distracting.

The Kid is a relatively okay Western but it’s by no means a must see. It moves at a snail’s pace, fails to keep your attention, and occasionally becomes dull. What makes it work is D’Onofrio’s direction of the whole thing, as well as the solid performances from DeHaan, Hawke and Pratt. If you were hyped from the trailer, you might be underwhelmed by the end result of the movie itself, but you still might be able to get something out of it.

First Reformed (2018) Review

Time: 135 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, suicide & content that may disturb
Cast:
Ethan Hawke as Reverend Ernst Toller
Amanda Seyfried as Mary
Cedric Kyles as Pastor Jeffers
Victoria Hill as Esther
Philip Ettinger as Michael
Director: Paul Schrader

A pastor (Ethan Hawke) of a small church in upstate New York spirals out of control after a soul-shaking encounter with an unstable environmental activist (Philip Ettinger) and his pregnant wife (Amanda Seyfried).

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I’ve been hearing some really positive things about First Reformed for a while. Paul Schrader is known as a writer, writing the scripts for such films as Taxi Driver, Raging Bull and The Last Temptation of Christ. However Schrader has been less successful in directing from what I can tell. One movie of his that I did watch was Dog Eat Dog which was decent but not much more than that. That cycle ended with First Reformed (which he also wrote), which is pretty great. With a great, dark and captivating script, led by an excellent performance by Ethan Hawke, First Reformed is one of the best films of the year.

First Reformed is just under 2 hours long and from start to finish it had me riveted, but you do need to know the kind of movie you’re going into. It is very slow paced and mostly consists of Ethan Hawke’s character talking to people. The comparisons to Taxi Driver are warranted and make sense (it’s not just because Paul Schrader wrote both or that both films are narrated by the main character). It’s a dark character driven story, with a dark and haunting vibe and a potentially unreliable narrator. First Reformed covers many topics, faith/religion (obviously), activism, religion in today’s society, environmentalism and much more with its main character played by Ethan Hawke. If there’s any noticeable complaint that could be made is that First Reformed tries to take on so many topics and themes, maybe too many. I’ll need to rewatch it to see if it manages to cover all of these themes successfully but from my one viewing I think it really worked. The ending is going to be something that people are going to feel divided over, because its either too insane, too unbelievable or too abrupt. Without spoiling anything, I’ll just say to not take things at surface value and try to look deeper. I think I know what the implications of the ending are but I know that a lot of people are going to have different opinions about it. I personally think the ending worked very well.

Ethan Hawke is absolutely fantastic, this is his best performance of his career, and for Ethan Hawke, that is saying a lot. He’s very subtle in his performance, it’s not very showy. His character of Ernst Toller is dealing with a lot of issues (even before the movie begins) and finds himself really conflicted after meeting this one person played by Philip Ettinger. You really get to see his transition and change over the course of the movie as he goes through his journey. First Reformed is also riding a lot on Ethan Hawke, there is not a scene that Ethan Hawke isn’t in, and thankfully Hawke did a masterful job. Although the main highlight is Hawke, the other actors do quite a good job in their roles as well. Amanda Seyfried was great in her role, Philip Ettinger in his limited screentime did very well in his scenes and Cedric Kyles (also known as Cedric the Entertainer) was also really good.

Paul Schrader’s direction of First Reformed is very effective. This film is shot in 4:3, pretty much like how A Ghost Story was shot, giving it an older and intimate feel to it, it makes the whole movie feel a lot more claustrophobic. There is one trippy sequence that happens in the second half of the movie that will probably take most people out of the movie, and yes it was very bizarre but I thought it was effective. There isn’t much music, but when it’s there it’s rather subtle and adds a lot to the movie. There is a really haunting vibe that First Reformed has from start to finish and that added a lot to it.

First Reformed has already shown itself to be not for everyone, it is slow moving, it’s quite dark, it is very different and at times bizarre but it really worked for me. I might need to revisit it, but from my first viewing I thought everything about it was great. Add on top of that a career best performance from Ethan Hawke, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic film, and one of the best of 2018. I feel like I’m going to like this movie even more the more I think about it and revisit it, it does seem like it would make repeat viewings interesting.

Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017) Review

Time: 137 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Contains fantasy violence
Cast:
Dane DeHaan as Major Valerian
Cara Delevingne as Sergeant Laureline
Clive Owen as Arün Filitt
Rihanna as Bubble
Ethan Hawke as Jolly the Pimp
Herbie Hancock as Defence Minister
Kris Wu as Captain Neza
Rutger Hauer as the President of the World State Federation
Director: Luc Besson

In the 28th century, special operatives Valerian (Dane DeHaan) and Laureline (Cara Delevingne) work together to maintain order throughout the human territories. Under assignment from the minister of defense, the duo embarks on a mission to Alpha, an ever-expanding metropolis where diverse species gather to share knowledge and culture. When a dark force threatens the peaceful city, Valerian and Laureline must race against time to identify the menace that also jeopardizes the future of the universe.

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Valerian was a movie I was curious about. I like some of Luc Besson’s films with Leon: The Professional and The Fifth Element. Also with the cast involved and it being based on a graphic novel that supposedly inspired countless sci-fi stories, I was intrigued as to what the movie would turn out like. Having finally seen Valerian, I feel a little conflicted. Valerian is a bit of a polarising movie, it does some things well but also has a lot of issues. Most of the main actors do quite well in their roles, I was interested in the world and the visuals were beautiful. However the writing is very flawed, from dialogue, to character, to story, there’s a lot of issues. It’s a bit of a mixed bag but I enjoyed it at the same time.

I’ll get this out of the way, the script has a lot of issues. Let’s start with the length, this movie is way too long, it is 2 hours 17 minutes. I don’t have an issue with Valerian being that long but if its going to be that way, the movie should be pretty engaging all the way through, and it really isn’t. This movie at many points could’ve been trimmed down quite a bit. For example, the first sequence with Valerian and Laureline on a mission is mostly decent but its way too long, especially a segment when Valerian’s arm stuck in a box-like device which I swear goes on for over 5 minutes (or at least feels like it). Because of the occasional dragging of the story, I wasn’t paying attention to the movie all the time, near the end it had my attention but for most of the movie it dipped in and out from having my interest to finding the movie to be a drag. Another issue is that this movie relies on way too much on exposition, there are so many moments when people just explain and information dump some things that the audience needed to know. It is hard to accuse this movie of being ‘too sci-fish’ as the graphic novel inspired so many sci-fi stories and movies. Although I gotta give Besson some credit for going all the way with the sci fi aspects, I think he went a little too far with it, and by that I mean the movie is a little weird, not necessarily a bad thing but there were some random moments at times, I didn’t know what was going on (maybe that was the intention). The humour was very hit or miss, and when the humour is a dud, you really feel it. Even though I was reasonably entertained by the movie, I found it hard to care about what was going on, it was predictable and I never felt worried about what could happen. The best part of the script is the world, the world is very interesting, I almost want the planned (and apparently already written) Valerian sequels, just to see more of this world. Overall, the script is a mess, a lot of the plot is fine and the world is nice but there are so many issues in the story, dialogue and pacing that really hold this movie back from being effective.

Dane Dehaan and Cara Delevingne were the leads of Valerian and they had good chemistry, however the writing between them is silly and cliché, it feels kind of forced and you don’t really buy the relationship between the two. Dehaan and Delevingne made the relationship between them somewhat work. Dane Dehaan, while good in his role, did feel a little out of place. I couldn’t tell whether it was the writing or if Dehaan was miscast. Delevingne on the other hand fits right into her role well, she was one of the stand outs of the movie. She has charisma, humour and you can buy her in the action scenes, she was one of the surprises of Valerian. Rihanna and Ethan Hawke are good in their short amount of screentime, very entertaining and fun to watch. There are a lot of brief weird characters and out of all of them, those two were the only ones I liked. The rest were just to random and pointless that I didn’t care for them. Clive Owen is a great actor but here he is wasted. He does try to act well but he’s not in the movie a lot and his role is very cliché and typical.

The visuals of Valerian are the best aspect of the film, its such a beautiful looking movie. The world of this movie feels huge and kinda intriguing. At times some aspects of the CGI did feel slightly off, but maybe its because so much CGI is on screen at the same time. The action itself is fast paced and very entertaining. As previously mentioned, this movie is very sci-fish (perhaps too much for its own good) but the designs for everything from the world to the aliens was great. The overall direction really immerses you in this very different world. The style is a little odd at times, but again, that might have been Besson’s intention.

Valerian is a very mixed bag. On one hand it has plenty of writing issues. On the other hand, I liked most of the main performances, the world was great and the visuals were nice to watch. Even though I like Valerian, I can completely understand people who hate it. Along with its many flaws, it is a very weird movie (however I almost kind of respect Luc Besson for going all the way with this movie). Honestly the only thing I can guarantee that everyone will think of the movie is that the visuals look good. Valerian isn’t one of Luc Besson’s best movies, its not even on the level of The Fifth Element but I’d say its better than Lucy. If you are curious enough, check Valerian out, just know that you are going to be watching a flawed, weird and beautiful looking sci-fi flick. And also know that there’s no guarantee that you’ll like it.

The Purge (2013) Review

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The Purge

Time: 85 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Ethan Hawke as James Sandin
Lena Headey as Mary Sandin
Adelaide Kane as Zoe Sandin
Max Burkholder as Charlie Sandin
Edwin Hodge as The Stranger
Tony Oller as Henry
Director: James DeMonaco

In 2022, the United States of America celebrates once a year “The Purge”, a 12-hour period when any crime is allowed including murder. The result is an economical growth and society free of homeless, sick and unproductive persons. James Sandin (Ethan Hawke) is a successful salesman that sells security systems for the houses. He lives with his wife Mary (Lena Headey) and his teenage son Charlie (Max Burkholder) and daughter Zoey (Adelaide Kane) in a house in the suburb. During the purge, James seals his house, however, Charlie sees a stranger (Edwin Hodge) fleeing from a group that is hunting him down and he disarms the security device and lets the man in. But the leader of the group (Rhys Wakefield) gives an ultimatum to James: if he does not deliver the man to the group, they would kill the whole family.

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At first glance, The Purge seems interesting, with the purge aspect potentially leading to an interesting plot if it’s handled right, however in this case it isn’t. These two elements are a bad mix which end up with an absurd and at times stupid movie with a badly written plot.

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The biggest flaw I feel is the actual idea behind the purge everyone says that the purge works but I just don’t get it. The way that many people on some news screens talk about, they seem to say that the reason crime exists is that we have to ‘release the beast’ that’s inside of us. I also can’t get how having a 12 hour crime free time works and everyone is going by the honours system and not committing any crimes. Another big flaw is that you can tell that this film could be a home invasion movie without this purge aspect, in fact it would’ve been better. They also take this thing seriously, if it was satire I could see how it would work but that’s not the case. Even the pacing isn’t that good. The first act isn’t interesting at all and the second act of the movie is the family looking for this one homeless guy with no tension. The characters make very stupid decisions, like when the daughter runs off further into the house when the lights go out (when the family should stay together). The villains are also just over the top goofy, they are just dancing and mucking around in front of the camera for about half of the movie and are apparently supposed to be ‘creepy’. I do wonder why they are focussing on getting this one guy, they have 12 hours to do pretty much do what they want but this guy is apparently so worth their attention. When they finally get into the house they become quite possibly the dumbest house invaders ever by just messing around. This film’s plot really does deconstruct itself and is one of the worst attempts at being smart.

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Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey do the best with what they have in this movie, however the kids weren’t that great. There is one redeeming aspect of this movie which is Rhys Wakefield as the leader of the gang. He tries so hard to act evil and his hammy performance is at least entertaining to watch.

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On the technical side, The Purge doesn’t really have any problems. The shots are well set up, the lighting is effective, and soundtrack is fine, but it isn’t enough to take away the flaws of the story.

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The Purge is a failed attempt at a cross between a smart film and a home invasion movie. The film is well shot and the soundtrack is fine but besides that, this movie didn’t work at all. The characters are poorly written and its very premise is flawed. I’ve heard that its sequel is better so at some point I’ll give it a chance but I can’t imagine it being that much better this film.

Boyhood (2014) Review

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Boyhood

Time: 165 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Offensive language
Cast:
Ellar Coltrane as Mason Evans Jr.
Patricia Arquette as Olivia Evans
Lorelei Linklater as Samantha Evans
Ethan Hawke as Mason Evans Sr.
Director: Richard Linklater

Filmed over 12 years with the same cast, Richard Linklater’s Boyhood is a groundbreaking story of growing up as seen through the eyes of a child named Mason (Ellar Coltrane), who literally grows up on screen before our eyes. Starring Ethan Hawke and Patricia Arquette as Mason’s parents and newcomer Lorelei Linklater as his sister Samantha, Boyhood charts the rocky terrain of childhood like no other film has before and is both a nostalgic time capsule of the recent past and an ode to growing up and parenting.

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Boyhood is an ambitious film, it’s a film that was shot over 12 years with the same actors every year to show the characters growing up without the need for alternate actors or CGI. Richard Linklater did a great job at directing this project, this film could’ve gone wrong in many ways but he keeps it all together with a well written script and a solid cast to deliver an overall great movie. I haven’t seen any of Linklater’s previous films but after watching Boyhood, now I want to.

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The film is shot over 12 years, so the actors in the film are aging, instead of just having different actors in different stages of their lives or using CGI. The 12 years of filming isn’t the only convincing thing, another convincing aspect that makes them look like they are aging is the writing, which is absolutely fantastic. It follows the characters for 12 years and there was not one moment that wasn’t convincing. The movie is 2 hours and 45 minutes but it is surprisingly interesting, it’s really the family scenes that are the most interesting. We really do follow the family on their lives, and it’s the little events that are shown. Some of these events appear and never come back to them again or get resolved (without spoiling anything), just like some events in real life. The film doesn’t have too much drama, it is a smaller film and doesn’t have many subplots that continue for the whole movie, but that really worked for the film. The dialogue is also well written for the characters in the different stages of their lives and it feels very natural.

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The great thing about this movie is that Boyhood’s characters are played by the same actors for the 12 years, so we really get to learn about and watch these characters throughout their lives as they grow up. All the actors, Ellar Coltrane, Lorelei Linklater, Ethan Hawke, Patricia Arquette and the rest of the cast are solid. As an audience, we become attached to these characters and they really feel human, and that’s because (along with the writing) of the acting and how genuine they feel.

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The look of the movie is also quite good, it isn’t one of the highlights of Boyhood but nonetheless despite it being nothing special, it is still set up well. Also the soundtrack should be mentioned, it really does fit in well with what was going on. The editing also is quite effective in putting everything in its place.

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Boyhood was one of the best movies of 2014, it’s an impressive and ambitious piece of cinema. Its remarkable 12 years of work on it was great enough to being with, the film also has brilliant writing and very good acting, resulting in my prediction that Boyhood will probably win best picture at the Academy Awards. I probably wouldn’t find myself seeing Boyhood again, the film doesn’t really have much rewatchability in my opinion, unless you are willing to study its many meanings but I think it’s still a necessity for everyone to see this film. See this movie as soon as you can, you won’t be disappointed.