Tag Archives: Linda Cardellini

Capone (2020) Review

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Capone

Time: 116 Minutes
Cast:
Tom Hardy as Fonse
Linda Cardellini as Mae
Matt Dillon as Johnny
Al Sapienza as Ralphie
Kathrine Narducci as Rosie
Noel Fisher as Junior
Director: Josh Trank

The 47-year old Al Capone (Tom Hardy), after 10 years in prison, starts suffering from dementia and comes to be haunted by his violent past.

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I was curious about Capone, it had been announced and made a while ago, and finally we get to see what it is. Fonzo (retitled to Capone for commercial purposes)) would be director Josh Trank’s next movie after Fant4stic, a movie that was infamously known for having a lot of studio interference. Trank had a lot to prove after that, and decided to set his sights on a movie about Al Capone in his last year of his life. With him having made like 1.5 movies, I was expecting something more conventional, but it turned out to be something quite different. The response to the movie has been rather mixed, but I’m glad to be on the side of people who liked it.

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There’s a lot of things that you need to know before watching Capone. First of all, despite the title, don’t expect a full on Al Capone movie. I heard that Josh Trank had issues with renaming Fonzo to Capone, and watching the movie I can see why. Along with the lead character generally being referred to as “Fonze” or “Fonzo” over the course of the movie, with the new title, it really gave the impression that this would be at the very least a straightforward biopic. It’s a biopic in the loosest sense of the word, as I said earlier it is about Capone’s last year of his life as he is suffering from dementia and syphilis, and that’s pretty much all that happens in that movie. There’s a subplot whereby Al Capone hid some money and forgot where it was, and another where the FBI is surveying him because the suspect that he might be faking his illness, but those are only small parts of the plot. For a movie that’s seemingly intended on being more psychological than a full on biopic, those aspects feels tact on, however I know that it was needed as that probably what happened in real life. Probably my biggest disappointment of the movie is that while it does have some unusual stuff, it does feel like it is consciously partly a biopic, and does at times seem to be going through the motions to meet that. Those previously mentioned subplots feel obligatory, as it’s pretty clear that Trank is a lot more interested in other aspects. Capone suffers from hallucinations, and storywise that interested me the most in the movie. There is a specific section around halfway through that was the highlight, as Capone goes through an extended nightmare/dream sequence that is something straight out of a haunted house movie like The Shining or something.

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Another thing that is worth noting is that it is a slow movie and not a lot happens, although I was still on board throughout (that first act does drag quite a bit however). It’s not particularly pleasant to watch either, the very few scenes of violence that are there are brutal, and you are basically watching the main character succumb to dementia further over the course of the film. So for those hoping for a straightforward biopic of Al Capone, there are no doubt other representations of him on the big screen that might better suit what you’re looking for. If you want to know more about him this certainly isn’t the movie for you. Now the question is what the point of the movie is. If it’s to watch a man who has done horrible things being haunted with such things while suffering from illnesses, then Trank succeeded in that, but otherwise I’m not really sure. What kept me on board for the whole thing was the directions that he decided to take the movie. If it was meant to be a character piece or something, I feel like it was missing something. We see him declining, and we see some visions of what happened while he was in his prime, but we don’t really learn anything about him at the same time. Nonetheless it was interesting to watch.

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The acting is generally quite good. The supporting cast is good with Jack Lowden, Noel Fisher and Kyle MacLachlan doing well in their smaller roles. Linda Cardellini and Matt Dillon were the standouts among the supporting cast. Dillon makes the most of his screentime as an associate of Capone, and Cardellini provides the closest thing to an emotional centre of the movie as Capone’s wife, which was needed considering who the protagonist of the whole movie is. However it is absolutely the Tom Hardy show, and he gives his most insane and crazy performance of his entire career as the title character, and that’s saying a lot considering he was in Bronson and Venom, I can certainly say it’s the most acting he’s done in a single performance. Before watching the movie, there was a couple of clips I saw before the movie that certainly gave me pause, he was unintentionally hilarious in them, and he’s kind of like that throughout much of the film. It works better when you watch the movie in its entirety. However it still takes you a while to settle in, especially with the makeup making him look like a demonic vampire and his voice sounding like a mix of Donald Duck, Nick Nolte, and Danny Devito’s The Penguin. Some of his outbursts still were unintentionally funny, but it worked better in the weird tone of the movie. Overall while I can say that I liked his performance, his over the top ‘acting’ moments didn’t work quite as well as the comparatively ‘quieter’ moments for me. He is definitely putting everything into this performance (for better and for worse) and was one of the stand out parts of the film.

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I already knew this from his work on Chronicle, but Josh Trank has shown himself to be a capable director. It’s shot and filmed well generally, but for the most part the technical side is just competent and nothing special. Interestingly, the editing is done by Trank of all people, no doubt wanting to ensure that he wouldn’t be caught in another Fant4stic situation. With that said, it is a little disjointed, and while I get that part of it was purposeful with this being from the perspective of a man slowly losing sense of everything, I’m not sure that was necessarily intentional all the way through. Where the film shines is when it leant into the weirdness, mainly with the hallucinations and dream sequences. The aforementioned dream scene halfway into the movie was a shining aspect, and had Trank committed to more of those sorts of scenes, I think that it could’ve been better.

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Capone won’t work for all people, in fact it won’t work for most people. There are aspects that are unpolished and messy, it might be too gross and gnarly for some people, and I don’t think it quite sticks the landing in what Josh Trank intended. However, despite its flaws I think the movie is decent. The acting is good, with the performance from Tom Hardy being a highlight, and I liked the places that it was taken. As weird as the movie got at points, I kind of wish it went further, as those were definitely the best parts of the movie. What this shows is that Trank has a talent and a vision, and Chronicle wasn’t a fluke. I’d love to see what he does next, especially if he’s not tied down with adapting anything this time.

Green Book (2018) Review

Time: 130 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Coarse language
Cast:
Viggo Mortensen as Frank “Tony Lip” Vallelonga
Mahershala Ali as “Doc” Don Shirley
Linda Cardellini as Dolores Vallelonga
Director: Peter Farrelly

Dr Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is world-class African American pianist, who is about to embark on a concert tour in the Deep South in 1962. In need of a driver and protection, Shirley recruits Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen), a tough-talking bouncer from an Italian-American neighbourhood in the Bronx. Despite their differences, the two men soon develop an unexpected bond while controlling racism and danger in an era of segregation.

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Green Book still is one of the surprise Oscar frontrunners, both for the lead performances and for the actual film. I actually first really heard of the movie from the backlash that has been developing against it, with people comparing it to Driving Miss Daisy and criticising its attempt at taking on racism, which is surprising considering that at the same time it has been quite the crowd pleaser. I had been hearing some contrasting reactions, some really liking it, others hating it, so I really didn’t know how I was going to feel going into it, and I ended up really liking it, even if I don’t necessarily consider it to be Best Picture worthy or anything like that.

While racism is a big part of the movie, Green Book at its core is a road trip movie, and as that type of movie, its really good. Something that often happens with some road trip movies following two people who are completely different from each other that don’t get along and then become best friends, is that the change is sudden and unbelievable, usually just because of a certain event. Green Book however develops it gradually, and scene by scene we get to see the relationship change over time instead of having it occur suddenly. Despite the director’s past movies, the humour of the movie comes more from the situations and the characters interacting and doesn’t seem forced. The movie is genuinely funny throughout, even hilarious at times. Racism definitely plays a notable part of the movie, but Green Book isn’t necessarily trying to tackle it as its main focus. It’s not BlacKKKlansman or anything, again it’s a road trip movie set to the backdrop of the racist deep south. Its examination of race is pretty surface level to be honest, but at the very least its because they weren’t trying to do it. Its not romanticising the racism either (in fact from what I remember I think Driving Miss Daisy was much more so), it is critical of racism when its present. By the end of the movie, it’s pretty clear that racism isn’t solved, and it’s definitely not trying to claim that they have. While I’m at it, no, Green Book is not a white saviour movie like some people have claimed it is. Tony Lip (Viggo Mortensen) is established as a naive racist, ignorant at many points and leaves room for him to be criticised. The only way he really ‘saves’ Don Shirley (Mahershala Ali) is that he’s his bodyguard, which is part of the reason he was hired to begin with. Green Book recognises the flaws with both people but at their core is a deep humanity, and they both learn from each other, so in a way they both sort of help each other. While it can be seen as an Oscar bait movie, it doesn’t feel like it was made to be, despite some scenes feeling like they were written to tick the boxes for people to want to nominate it for awards. It does get a little sappy towards the end but considering what type of movie it is, it’s appropriate and is fitting. Now with every movie based on a true story, there are questions as to whether what was said is actually accurate. Some might’ve noticed that Don Shirley’s family came out against this movie for some inaccuracies. The problem with fact checking this movie is that the story is so unknown and intimate that not many people would’ve known. Also, one of the writers is the son of Tony, who apparently got all his information from his father and apparently Shirley as well. So you may need to take this movie with a grain of salt but I think generally it’s accurate, even if some areas might’ve been tweaked as what tends to happen to true life stories turned into movies. Also while it’s a bit of a minor issue, I think it wasn’t the best idea to call this movie Green Book. On top of it just being an easily forgettable title (and easy to confuse with Green Room), it actually has very little to do in the movie. The Green Book if you didn’t know (and most people today don’t know) is basically a guide for black people travelling through the deep south for safe places they can go to. While it is interesting and does play a little bit of a role in the movie, it gets probably 2 minutes focus tops. Not only that but it gives the impression that it’s going to be from the African American viewpoint and/or have a heavy focus on racism, which it isn’t. Even Driving Dr Shirley would’ve been a better title. In terms of other actual problems, I feel like Green Book was a little too sanitised and clean for the subject matter. Not that they needed to go into R territory but going a little less sanitised may have been better.

The two leads Viggo Mortensen and Mahershala Ali are really great in the roles of Tony Lip and Don Shirley and they are great together. Both Tony and Don are very different from each other and yet despite all the odds, over time they form this unshakable bond together. Viggo Mortensen as Tony could’ve easily just fallen into a complete Italian stereotype, and at first he seems like he is. Throughout the movie he does a lot of the cliché Italian things with the accent and the things he says but despite that, he still manages to deliver the character very well. Tony is a very simple man, he’s not the smartest of people (he’s flat out dumb at some points) but Viggo makes him work and plays him really well. Mortensen is known for being a really committed and serious actor but here he seems very loose and free and is actually quite great at the humour. Mashershala Ali gives yet another fantastic performance here. Shirley is a more complex role compared to Lip, with him being very closed off and having a lot of nuances to him, he only really opens up later on and you get to learn more about why he acts and does what he does. While I get that some people wanted to see the movie from Don’s point of view, when it comes to this story, Tony is a more open, talkative and laid back character, so it’s natural that he’s placed more in the forefront and that the much more reserved Don would be explored later on.

Peter Farrelly is one half of the Farrelly brothers, and while I haven’t seen any of their movies yet, I know that they made comedies like Dumb and Dumber and There’s Something About Mary, so this is definitely a departure from his previous work. While his direction of his first drama (or dramedy) isn’t anything special, it is competent enough and serves the story quite well. The costume design, production design and music all fit the 1960s era. Personally, I think the most interesting technical aspect of the movie is the fact that they managed to make Mahershala Ali look like he’s playing the piano. They actually had someone else playing the piano so the fact that they somehow made Ali look incredibly convincing is impressive.

Green Book is an entertaining and heartwarming road trip movie featuring two great performances from some of the best actors working today. It’s not a complex exploration of racism in the deep south in the 1960s, it’s meant to be an uplifting movie about a bond between two people despite all the seemingly overwhelming odds around them, and as that I thought it was really good. It’s nothing groundbreaking and I’m not exactly sure why it’s becoming a huge awards contender outside of the lead performances, but for the movie its trying to be, its good. I know that some might be put off by the backlash and some of the things that they heard about it, but I recommend at the very least checking it out for yourself, you may end up really liking it.