Tag Archives: Matt Dillon

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.

Crash (2005) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Contains violence and offensive language
Cast:
Sandra Bullock as Jean Cabot
Don Cheadle as Det. Graham Waters
Matt Dillon as Sgt. John Ryan
Jennifer Esposito as Ria
Brendan Fraser as D.A. Rick Cabot
Terrence Howard as Cameron Thayer
Ludacris as Anthony
Thandie Newton as Christine Thayer
Michael Peña as Daniel Ruiz
Ryan Phillippe as Officer Tom Hansen
Larenz Tate as Peter Waters
Director: Paul Haggis

Writer-director Paul Haggis interweaves several connected stories about race, class, family and gender in Los Angeles in the aftermath of 9/11. Characters include a district attorney (Brendan Fraser) and his casually prejudiced wife (Sandra Bullock), dating police detectives Graham (Don Cheadle) and Ria (Jennifer Esposito), a victimized Middle Eastern store owner and a wealthy African-American couple (Terrence Dashon Howard, Thandie Newton) humiliated by a racist traffic cop (Matt Dillon).

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I had been meaning to do a review for Crash for a while. I remember hearing about the movie for the longest time, mainly with it being widely considered the worst pick for Best Picture at the Academy Awards and I had always wondered what about it sparked such a negative reaction outside of it beating out Brokeback Mountain. Having seen it, I can understand why it’s been receiving so much hate, and I have to say that it’s pretty well deserving of it. It’s more than that it’s just a somewhat okay movie that got more praise that it deserved, at best it’s well intended but clunky, at worst it’s horribly misguided and borderline offensive.

Crash is one of those award movies where a bunch of characters’ plotlines are all mixed together and crossover at different points. While there are some coincidences that I bought, other moments felt so ludicrous that it was hard to take things seriously (and the rest of the movie didn’t help that much). Most of the plotlines weren’t that particularly interesting, and the ones that were tended to be because the acting was great or something along those lines. Crash is very questionable in how it takes on racism, it’s very blatant and has no subtlety at all. Now it isn’t required to be subtle, but when it handles the topic poorly, the ham fisted feel to it make it feel worse. People don’t act like normal people, if they’re not stereotypes, they’re random characters meant to deliver a message through random character changes. I’ll use Sandra Bullock’s ‘arc’ as an example, she nearly gets robbed, which leads to her being racist against her caretakers, then she falls down some stairs, then the caretakers help her, leading to her not being racist (not even kidding, that’s her role in this movie). There are some admittedly pretty good individual scenes. For example, there’s a payoff scene between Matt Dillon and Thandie Newton which when seen out of context is great. However, in the context of the film, it just feels gross (more on that later). Some of the plotlines have very mixed messages. I guess they are at least tried to be fair with their treatment of people by ethnicities, so they’re showing good and bad people in each ethnicities, except for Asian people for whatever reason, they aren’t particularly portrayed very well here to say the least. Crash is also very questionable in some of its plotlines and decisions. There are way too many plotlines and characters to recall, but one of which is about the racist traffic cop played by Matt Dillon, and I can’t convey how poor some of these messages are without revealing things, if you don’t want to know about it before watching the movie, then skip ahead to the next paragraph. Long story short, Dillon pulls over a couple (Thandie Newton and Terrence Howard, and molests Newton’s character. A few scenes later he responds to a car crash, and it happens to be Newton’s character, and he saves her from the car before it explodes, which I guess is supposed to be him redeeming himself by actually doing his job. Make of that how you will.

Crash has an unbelievably large and talented cast, with the likes of Sandra Bullock, Don Cheadle, Matt Dillon, Brendan Fraser, Terrence Howard, Ludacris, Thandie Newton, Michael Pena, William Ficthner and many others all involved. The cast is by far the best part of the movie, most of whom deliver decent performances. The problem is that many of the characters don’t feel like real people, some of them being cartoonish, others being rather unlikable. Matt Dillon for example is pretty good in his role but it’s hard to think highly of his performance considering how the movie treats him, going from one end of the spectrum to the other, with very little time to actually show his ‘change’.

The direction by Paul Haggis is fine, nothing special. It’s shot well, edited well, the music was fine enough, there’s not much to really say about that honestly.

I found this movie personally really bad on its own, but even if you don’t compare it to Brokeback Mountain, I’m not sure how it got nominated for anything. There are a few scenes that are pretty good and some of the actors are able to give some good performances but that’s it. None of the characters feel like real people, the attempts of taking on racism is misguided at best, offensive at worst, and the end result is just. I won’t say not to watch it, I know that some people still like Crash, and you might end up liking it. Check it out for yourself and make up your own mind on it.

 

The House that Jack Built (2018) Review

Time: 155 Minutes
Age Rating: 79a0443c-3460-4500-922d-308b655c1350[1] Graphic violence, sadistic cruelty and sexual violence
Cast:
Matt Dillon as Jack
Bruno Ganz as Verge
Uma Thurman as Lady 1
Siobhan Fallon Hogan as Claire Miller – Lady 2
Sofie Gråbøl as Lady 3
Riley Keough as Jacqueline – “Simple”
Jeremy Davies as Al
Director: Lars von Trier

In five episodes, failed architect and vicious sociopath Jack (Matt Dillon) recounts his elaborately orchestrated murders — each, as he views them, a towering work of art that defines his life’s work as a serial killer in the Pacific Northwest.

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Having watched Lars von Trier’s past few films (Nymphomaniac, Melancholia and Antichrist) recently, I had been meaning to check out The House that Jack Built. It’s yet another controversial film from the polarising director, with his next movie following a serial killer. With the movies I’ve seen by him, I can usually appreciate and like them, but there’s something about them which I couldn’t bring myself to love or get on board fully with. The House that Jack Built however managed to be the exception to the rule and really was a real surprise of a film. Entertaining, fascinating, full with ideas and led by a fantastic performance by Matt Dillon, The House that Jack Built is one of the best films of the year.

The House that Jack Built is 2 hours and a half and when it comes to watching this movie, you have to really be prepared to sit yourself down to watch all of it. It’s divided into 5 ‘incidents’ as well as an epilogue and is basically a dive into the mind of a serial killer. The incidents all sounds very repetitive on paper, even with Jack finding new ways to kill his victims, however they do make sure that each of these killings have their own significance to Jack. It’s pretty clear that these aren’t the only murders that he has committed, it’s just the 5 instances that he decides to talk to a voice named Verge (Bruno Ganz) about. Speaking of that, the movie isn’t just about killing, a big part of the movie is Jack narrating talking with Verge, while some of their discussions are about his actions, their discussions can also range to art, icons in history, architecture and plenty of other things as well. Like with some bits of the discussions in Nymphomaniac, it can be a little too self indulgent at times but most of the conversations were interesting to listen to. There’s even a moment when they’re talking about art and it shows on screen some of Lars von Trier’s own movies. There is a real self-awareness to this movie which I think benefited it, and that’s possibly why I enjoy watching this one more than his others, Lars seemed to be genuinely having a good time making this movie and you could feel it. I think something that will surprise everyone is the effective dark comedy that is used. For example, the first two incidents are mostly hilarious. An example is in one of the incidents where Jack has murdered someone and is trying to leave a crime scene but because of his OCD keeps thinking that there’s still blood left behind and keeps having to go back inside the house to clean up the non-existent blood, even when the police can be heard coming closer. The movie is not a laugh riot from beginning to end though, there are some particularly grim moments, incidents 3 and 4 stand out as being that. Now the movie has an epilogue that is so far removed from the rest of the movie. It could polarise some but I personally loved it, it worked to tie together the whole story and the ending was really the only way the movie would’ve ended. Side note but I think a large part of watching the movie is that it’s probably Lars von Trier reflecting on himself and his work, he even said that out of all the characters that he wrote, Jack is the closest to himself. Going into the movie knowing that made things more interesting but I’m sure you could watch the movie perfectly fine not knowing too much about the reviled director.

Matt Dillon gives one of the best performances of the entire year as Jack. Whether The House that Jack Built would work as a movie relied on a number of things (it could’ve easily turned out to be a disaster), and one of the most critical things was the performance of the titular Jack character. I haven’t seen Dillon in much outside of Crash but he did a fantastic job here. He is great at showing Jack’s development over the 12 years, especially how he starts off not being that great as a killer, and then him becoming much more unstable, experienced and more willing to take risks as the film progresses. He also showed great range, going from being awkward and hilarious and intimidating in the next. The supporting cast which includes Riley Keough and Uma Thurman were all pretty good, though usually just limited to one scene appearances. The standout supporting actor was Bruno Ganz who voices Verge, who Jack speaks to. I didn’t mention this before but I feel like Verge was essential to this movie working, as during the narration portions when they are talking, they conflict and debate a lot. Without Verge, we would just be watching Jack discuss his killings and talking about his perception about art without being challenged at all. The film needed some sort of moral centre and it certainly wasn’t going to be Jack’s victims who get like 10 minutes of screentime max. On top of that, Verge calls out Jack for a bunch of things, whether that be his misogyny, arrogance or his ego. Because of this, I highly disagree with all the criticisms of this movie glorifying serial killers or being misogynistic, the movie is pretty much condemning Jack throughout.

Lars von Trier’s direction is great and had a really good look to it. His previous movies do this but they have that weird unnecessary cutting in scenes, I’m used to it by now though but I can see other people finding it rather distracting. Overall though the editing really helped and added to the movie. The third act is vastly different from the rest of the movie, and without spoiling anything has some stunning visuals, it truly is a spectacle to watch. I pretty much loved everything they did with the movie. Now to deal with the elephant in the room: the violence. I heard much of the scenes of violence before going in. With the violence, they go the more realistic route rather than the bloodbath approach, I’d say that less blood was seen here than in American Psycho (to compare it to another serial killer movie). I know it’s a weird thing to say but honestly I found the violence to be way tamer than I thought it would be (not to say that most people will be perfectly fine with the violence in this movie). I’d say honestly its more about what exactly happens that’s disturbing than how it’s portrayed. That’s not to say however that there aren’t scenes that aren’t hard to watch (again primarily in incidents 3 and 4), but they are careful not to be too gratioutous with what happens. For example there’s a moment when Jack can be seen cutting off a body part (at least in the director’s cut) and it only lasts for like one second, and that was one of the more graphic moments of the film. There are two versions of the movie, the director’s cut and the theatrical cut, I managed to watch the director’s cut. I have a feeling there’s a slight difference regarding the violence, with some cuts to slightly tone it down a bit. However, if you’re really questioning which version to watch, I don’t think it would be a major difference honestly (I still think the director’s cut is the way to go). I will say this though, if you could stomach von Trier’s Antichrist, then I don’t think you will have too much of a problem with this film.

The House that Jack Built won’t be for everyone, along with the violence and the fact that it’s about a serial killer, it is quite an ‘arty’ movie and has a lot more going on with it. People just expecting a simple serial killer movie will be let down. To me, it’s one of the best films of the year. Along with its great direction, its darkly hilarious, fantastically made and features one of the year’s best performances by Matt Dillon. I have a feeling that this is von Trier’s last film, given some of the things that happen in the movie as well as the ending, if that’s the case then he’s ending on a high note.