Tag Archives: John Malkovich

Con Air (1997) Review

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Con Air

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Violence & offensive language
Cast:
Nicolas Cage as Cameron Poe
John Cusack as U.S. Marshal Vince Larkin
John Malkovich as Cyrus “The Virus” Grissom
Steve Buscemi as Garland “The Marietta Mangler” Greene
Ving Rhames as Nathan “Diamond Dog” Jones
Colm Meaney as Agent Duncan Malloy
Mykelti Williamson as Mike “Baby-O” O’Dell
Rachel Ticotin as Guard Sally Bishop
Director: Simon West

Cameron is a wrongly convicted prisoner who is going to be released when his plane is hijacked by other criminals. While they seize control of the plane, he attempts to wrest control and return home.

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When it comes to the 90s and especially for Nicolas Cage, Con Air is one of the quintessential action movies, even if I wouldn’t consider it one of the all time best. I rewatched it after many years after seeing it for the first time, and it was even more enjoyable than I remembered it being. It is absurd, yet thrilling, and constantly entertaining from beginning to end.

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One thing that everyone will say is that Con Air is very over the top and ridiculous, it is almost insane that this movie was made at all. It just runs with whatever ridiculous happens, no matter the absurdity, and it just keeps escalating and escalating. Its very noisy, and nothing about the movie is subtle. It is helped by a light tone and the simplicity of the plot, which is basically Die Hard on a plane. Nicolas Cage is a prisoner going home on a plane full of convicts, and the convicts take over the plane. This movie is always moving, with rarely a dull or boring moment. I also love how confident this movie is, there is an earnestness to the movie, even with the tongue in cheek and self-aware moments, which gives it a real personality. There are even certain choices that are played completely straight, but come across as unintentional comedic, and that adds to the movie if anything. Its really hard to criticise the writing of the movie because any negative you could find in it also serves as a positive (on an entertainment level at least). What I will say without spoilers is that once everything with the plane is done, there is a final action segment to conclude the movie. It is still enjoyable, but does feel a little tact on.

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There is a stacked cast with plenty of recognisable names here, and everyone delivers in their parts. They know what kind of movie they are in and are committed to the film despite the goofiness. Nicolas Cage leads this movie with long hair and a wonky Southern accent. Even though its not one of his all time best action roles, its one of his most memorable. He’s likable, easy to follow, and has some memorable moments and delivers some fun one liners. John Cusack is also good as a US Marshal who helps Cage along the way. The standout is John Malkovich as a menacing and great villain, I really don’t think the character and movie would’ve worked as well without Malkovich. Supporting villains including Ving Rhames and Danny Trejo are solid, and Steve Buscemi is a scene stealer.

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Something that also helps the movie is the direction by Simon West. Its so overblown yet well filmed, stylistically it is the epitome of 90s action cheese. The action is entertaining and intense, the camera movements are great, and everything from the fight scenes to the shootouts are crafted well. The score is wonderfully bombastic, and is operating at the right tone and feel for this movie.

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Con Air is the most Michael Bay movie that isn’t directed by Michael Bay. It has the right amount of absurdity, earnestness, and self-awareness, made even better by Simon West’s solid direction, and an ensemble of enjoyable performances led by Nicolas Cage. It is a lot of fun, and is a great candidate for the ultimate popcorn movie. If you like action movies especially those which are incredibly over the top, I think Con Air is worth checking out.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile (2019) Review

Time: 108 Minutes
Cast:
Zac Efron as Theodore “Ted” Bundy
Lily Collins as Elizabeth “Liz” Kendall
Kaya Scodelario as Carole Ann Boone
John Malkovich as Judge Edward Cowart
Jeffrey Donovan as John O’Connell
Angela Sarafyan as Joanna
Dylan Baker as David Yocom
Brian Geraghty as Dan Dowd
Jim Parsons as Larry Simpson
Haley Joel Osment as Jerry Thompson
Director: Joe Berlinger

A courtroom frenzy ensues and sweeps 1970s America when a young single mother (Lily Collins) reluctantly tips the attention of a widespread manhunt toward her longtime boyfriend, Ted Bundy (Zac Efron).

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Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile was a movie I was curious about. With it being a movie about Ted Bundy, and with the cast involved (especially with Zac Efron playing Bundy) I was interested, but wasn’t really sure how the movie would be. Having seen it, I can say that the performances were very good and it was kind of interesting to watch, however doesn’t quite reach its fullest potential.

First thing to note is that the director Joe Berlinger directed earlier this year Conversations with a Killer: The Ted Bundy Tapes, a Netflix series about Ted Bundy. I’ve never seen it but it seems that the film is helmed by someone who knows a lot of the subject matter. It is worth knowing going in that Extremely Wicked is mostly a court case sort of movie, and the court case scenes start much earlier than expected. You don’t actually see Efron’s Bundy kill anyone (for the most part), you do hear about some of his crimes but that’s it. The first half of the movie was alright, as it shows Ted with his girlfriend Liz as suspicions about him being a serial killer build up over time. I did feel like it dragged a little bit and didn’t have me fully invested. The second half is where the movie picks up, as it heads towards the main court case, with John Malkovich as the judge and Jim Parsons as the prosecutor. From there it’s much more interesting to watch what is happening. The thing that probably let down the movie mostly was the weak script. I think one of the biggest problems is that the movie from the beginning seems to intend on seeing Bundy through his girlfriend’s perspective. However, he gets arrested pretty early on and we don’t really get to spend much time with the two of them together before or during this period, and the movie breezes right through it. The second half of the movie almost abandons this approach, with the majority of it being a bunch of court cases and then once in a while cuts to Liz hearing about what’s going on. It’s like they really didn’t know what approach they should take and so tried to do everything. A lot of people were worrying that the film was going to glorify Bundy but I’m not sure how anyone could think that after watching the movie. In fact, I think it played much of the movie way too safely, like it deliberately feels caged in and restricted to avoid controversy. As I don’t know much about Ted Bundy, I was reasonably interested watching the movie but come to think of it I don’t think I’ve learned a whole lot more about him than I did before watching it. I feel like people who already know a lot about him or have watched The Ted Bundy Tapes won’t get anything more out of it, outside of the acting.

Zac Efron gives his career best performance as Ted Bundy, he is great here. Efron effortlessly conveys Bundy’s charm and you can see why so many people could be tricked by him and got away with so much. The first half of the movie you really just see Efron’s charismatic side and it’s a while before you really get to see the darker aspects. In the second half though you really get some glimpses of Bundy’s more serial killer side, even without showing any killings on screen, and he’s excellent in the last 20 minutes. I do feel like Efron wasn’t really able to fully embody Bundy as the movie only shows certain sides to him. It was good for what we got though, and at the very least it shows that Efron is more than up to the task for playing much more challenging roles. Lily Collins was also really good as Bundy’s girlfriend Liz and considering that the character really wasn’t handled the best in the story, Collins elevated the role with her performance. It’s a little difficult to buy their relationship as in the early stages of the movie, their moments together are just shown in montages and we don’t really get a chance to see it unfold, so some of the relationship isn’t fully convincing. Not that they have bad chemistry or anything, both of them work together on screen well, it’s just that we didn’t get enough of it. The rest of the cast, which consists of Kaya Scodelario, John Malkovich, Jim Parsons, Haley Joel Osment and more also played their roles well.

Joe Berlinger directed this movie fine enough, there’s nothing wrong with how he handled the movie, the cinematography, editing and all the rest are competent enough, just nothing special or noteworthy worth mentioning.

Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile is a decent enough movie but isn’t as great as it could’ve been. The movie didn’t seem to know what angle it was going to take on the story, whether it be from the perspective of the girlfriend or to be a court case movie, and it’s a little messy all round. Weak script aside, from what I can gather, you’ll get a lot more out of it if you don’t know a lot about Bundy beforehand, as it doesn’t show or reveal a whole lot about him. As someone who really didn’t know much about him beforehand, I liked it but I can see how others didn’t get much out of it. With that said, it does pick up with the second half, and Efron and Collins give some really good performances and I think that’s enough to make the movie worth watching. If you have Netflix and you are curious about it, then definitely give it a watch.

Velvet Buzzsaw (2019) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Cast:
Jake Gyllenhaal as Morf Vandewalt
Rene Russo as Rhodora Haze
Toni Collette as Gretchen
Zawe Ashton as Josephina
Tom Sturridge as Jon Dondon
Natalia Dyer as Coco
Daveed Diggs as Damrish
Billy Magnussen as Bryson
John Malkovich as Piers
Director: Dan Gilroy

After a series of paintings by an unknown artist are discovered, a supernatural force enacts revenge on those who have allowed their greed to get in the way of art.

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Velvet Buzzsaw was one of my most anticipated movies of 2019. Nightcrawler was one of the best films of 2014, and writer/director Dan Gilroy and actors Jake Gyllenhaal and Rene Russo are returning from that for Gilroy’s third film, which would be a horror movie in the art world. I was wondering how this movie was going to be. It has a great setup and premise and a good cast involved, however I heard that Gilroy’s second film (Roman J. Israel) wasn’t all that great, so I didn’t know what to expect. Velvet Buzzsaw wasn’t quite the homerun that Nightcrawler was, yet I still liked it, more than other people at least.

I should start by saying not to watch the trailer to Velvet Buzzsaw if you haven’t already. First of all, it shows too much, particularly some key scenes including some deaths. Second of all, it’s being marketed as a full on horror movie, and that’s not really what it is. The movie really is a mix between a satire on the world of art and a campy horror b-movie. Its strongest parts is whenever are satirises the world of art. The first half is pretty much the whole satire bit, even the dialogue that sounds off and flatly written seems oddly deliberate and is genuinely hilarious at points. However, even with some interesting ideas and potential, it barely scratches the surface of what it could’ve been, it doesn’t go much further than the setup. There are also some subplots and some characters that seem to lengthen the runtime and don’t fit into the movie entirely and don’t even get fully resolved. Like I don’t even remember why John Malkovich was in the movie. Despite being an hour and 50 minutes long, it can drag and feel dull at some points. I think a rewrite or two might’ve smoothed out parts of the script. Over time it leans more into the horror aspects and it’s really not effective at the horror parts. I don’t mean that as it didn’t scare me because most horror movies don’t scare me. I’m meaning that I never felt tense throughout the whole movie. By the end it felt like something was missing from the story, like there was a payoff that was supposed to happen but it doesn’t actually come.

There is a great cast involved in this movie, while all of them are good, only some of them stand out. Jake Gyllenhaal is basically the lead of the movie, playing the role of an art critic so pretentious that his name is literally Morf Vandelwalt. It’s not one of his all time best performances but it’s still a great performance very unlike any performance he’s given before and ranks among his strangest roles alongside his parts in Okja and Nightcrawler. Other standouts are Rene Russo, Toni Collette and Zawe Ashton, who are also great in their roles. The rest of the cast including Natalie Dyer, Daveed Diggs, Billy Magnussen and John Malkovich are good in their roles and play their parts, however are very much supporting roles and don’t get to shine like Gyllenhaal or Collette.

While I’m not sure yet whether Nightcrawler was just a fluke when it comes to writing for Dan Gilroy, Velvet Buzzsaw shows that he is a good director at the very least. With the movie being about the art world it’s got such a great look throughout and unsurprisingly the cinematography was done by Robert Elswitt, who shot Nightcrawler (which Dan Gilroy also directed). It is such a stunning looking movie, and really all the technical elements were handled greatly. It has some Final Destination like death scenes (some of which were unfortunately shown in the trailer). While they aren’t scary in the slightest, they are visually creative at the very least.

Velvet Buzzsaw isn’t going to work for everyone. It doesn’t really achieve what it sets out to do, it’s a little clunky and it falls flat at some of the aspects, especially the horror elements. However, I still think there are some good things here. The acting is good, it’s well directed, and some parts of the story worked and I really like the premise. If you’re the least bit interested in it and you have a Netflix account, I’d say give it a chance.