Tag Archives: James Caan

Bottle Rocket (1996) Review

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Bottle Rocket

Time: 91 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] contains violence & offensive language
Cast:
Luke Wilson as Anthony Adams
Owen Wilson as Dignan
Robert Musgrave as Bob Mapplethorpe
James Caan as Abe Henry
Lumi Cavazos as Inez
Andrew Wilson as Jon Mapplethorpe/Future Man
Director: Wes Anderson

A group of friends hatches a plan to pull off a simple robbery and go on the run. However, their ensuing escapade turns out to be far from what anyone expected.

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I had been meaning to watch all of Wes Anderson’s films for some time, I’ve only seen about half of his filmography, and recently I decided to watch through all of it from the very beginning, starting with Bottle Rocket. Wes Anderson has one of the most distinct filmmaking styles that I’ve seen from a director, and I was interested to see how he has evolved over the years. Bottle Rocket really wasn’t what I was expected, even as his debut movie, but I really liked it. It was enjoyable, entertaining, and I’m glad that I watched it.

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The script written by Wes Anderson and Owen Wilson works pretty well. The story was probably the weakest part of the movie, even though it’s reasonably decent for what it is. Bottle Rocket is an hour and half minutes long, for the most part it is paced well, and does well enough to keep you invested throughout. The first and third acts are pretty strong. However, it does slow down quite a bit in the middle section, and there’s a romance subplot that it focuses on quite a lot, which didn’t have me that interested. Although the plot does involve heists, it was about the characters first and foremost, and the movie definitely benefited from that. The dialogue is well written, and definitely was partly key to making the movie work as well as it did. Much of the writing isn’t quite what you’d expect from a Wes Anderson movie, and that’s especially when it comes to the dialogue. However, you can see certain elements that would later evolve into some of his trademarks, with the comedy, quirky characters and the like. The comedy is particularly great, with perfect timing and executions, making it quite a fun movie to watch.

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The cast all worked really well in their roles, they interacted with each other really well, and had wonderful comedic timing. Luke Wilson and Owen Wilson are the main actors of the movie and they are great, with really believable on screen chemistry. Owen Wilson was particularly great, and you can clearly see why he collaborated with Wes Anderson so much (and he was even involved with the writing along with Anderson).

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Like I mentioned earlier when it comes to the writing, if you watch Wes Anderson’s other movies and then look at Bottle Rocket, they very clearly don’t seem at first that similar, and that extends to the direction too. His familiar trademarks aren’t quite on display, for example the framing and editing of the shots, and the very distinct style that he has in films like Grand Budapest Hotel and Moonrise Kingdom isn’t quite there yet. However, you do seem some glimpses of that in this movie, such as some of the use of colour and the great music choices. With this being his first film, you can tell that Anderson is that this point still figuring his own style out, however it’s pretty great for a first film.

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I feel pretty confident in calling Bottle Rocket Wes Anderson’s weakest film even though I admittedly haven’t seen all of his movies yet. However, it’s still a pretty good movie as it is. Anderson’s writing is really good, his direction was solid and showed promise, the cast were all great in their parts, and really I had a fun time with it. It is worth watching for sure, especially if you are a fan of Wes Anderson’s films.

The Godfather (1972)

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The Godfather

Time: 175 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence
Cast:
Marlon Brando as Don Vito Corleone
Al Pacino as Michael Corleone
James Caan as Sonny Corleone
Richard Castellano as Clemenza
Robert Duvall as Tom Hagan
Sterling Hayden as Capt. McCluskey
John Marley as Jack Woltz
Richard Conte as Barzini
Diane Keaton as Kay Adams
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

“Don” Vito Corleone (Marlon Brando) is the head of the Corleone Mafia Family. His younger son Michael (Al Pacino) has returned from the war and is the only family member not involved with the mafia. Things however change when the family is threatened by a rival. The film is based on the bestselling novel by Mario Puzo.

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The Godfather is one of cinemas all time classics but you’ve probably heard this many times before. It is a brilliant crime drama that doesn’t just focus on the crime business but also on the characters occupying it. It has great acting, well written dialogue, developed characters and an atmosphere that really invested me in the story.

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Pacing-wise, this movie does take its time, it took a second viewing for me to really like this movie because of how uninterested and slightly bored I was the first time I watched it – especially in the middle section. On the second viewing I noticed how the pacing is actually well set up; it starts out slow as the events unravel over time. Also great is the fact that the characters are contrasted and are really well developed. Interestingly, some of the characters are sympathetic and relatable, despite this technically being a gangster movie. There are so many characters that it is kind of hard keeping track of everyone; fortunately for most people including myself, I managed to keep track of the main characters.

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The best thing about the movie is the acting. Marlon Brando manages to personify Vito Corleone strongly and turns in one of those rare performances where they are a presence, even when they aren’t on screen. He is very subtle in his role as well as making him feel genuine and realistic. He also manages to act older than he does, which is helped with the great makeup. Al Pacino is also worth mentioning as he is the character that arguably goes through the most change throughout the story; his character’s transformation is so great because Pacino manages to make the changes very subtle. Other performances from actors like James Caan, and Robert Duvall are also great.

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The cinematography is also well done; it is beautifully photographed and is well suited to the era; a great example is the opening which is about a few minutes of a man – over those minutes the shot is being zoomed out. The lighting is also great; the opening again is a good example of this. The movie was also well edited, the best example of the scene is the baptism scene; while a baptism is happening a lot of events are happening at the same time and are fit in well – in my opinion it is the best scene in the movie. Another thing worth mentioning is the score by Nino Rota. Every time one of the songs from that core was playing I felt the presence of the godfather – that’s how the score is to me.

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If I was advising someone to watch the movie, the first thing I’d suggest that they should walk into the movie without the ‘greatest movie of all time’ hype as it may affect your first viewing – that happened with me. Just go into the movie expecting it to be good without expectations that would possibly end up disappointing the movie for you. For me, although it is a gangster movie I don’t usually view it as that – I view it as a complex family drama. Even as a gangster movie, I still prefer Goodfellas or Casino but there is no denying how much of an impact The Godfather has made on cinema. Overall the movie is a masterpiece and a great example of how great movies can be.