Tag Archives: Sean Penn

The Tree of Life (2011) Review

Time: 139 Minutes
Age Rating: 120px-OFLCN_-_PG.svg[1]
Cast:
Brad Pitt as Mr. O’Brien
Sean Penn as Jack O’Brien
Hunter McCracken as young Jack
Jessica Chastain as Mrs. O’Brien
Tye Sheridan as Steve
Kari Matchett as Jack’s ex
Joanna Going as Jack’s wife
Director: Terrence Malick

In this highly philosophical film by acclaimed director Terrence Malick, young Jack (Hunter McCracken) is one of three brothers growing up as part of the O’Brien family in small-town Texas. Jack has a contentious relationship with his father (Brad Pitt), but gets along well with his beautiful mother (Jessica Chastain). As an adult, Jack (Sean Penn) struggles with his past and tries to make sense of his childhood, while also grappling with bigger existential issues.

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Tree of Life was a movie I was curious about. I wanted to see a couple of Terrence Malick movies before seeing his latest film (Song to Song), so that I could get used to his style beforehand, so I decided to start with one of his most well known movies, Tree of Life. I expected to see an unconventional, arty film which is visually beautiful, and I really wouldn’t know how to feel about it afterwards and indeed that’s the movie I ended up with. I was left polarised and confused by the end of the movie but yet I think I like the movie. It’s very difficult to describe my experience with the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easy movie to describe, I think the best way to describe all this is to tell how I felt during the movie. This movie is unconventional to say the least. The first 10 minutes focusses on Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain and Sean Penn, during this I didn’t know what to think. I couldn’t really tell what was going on. 20 minutes in, there is a 10 minute segment which pretty much featured the universe being created (there’s no better way of describing it). It focusses on random aspects, stars, meteors, nature, animals, plants, even dinosaurs at one point. I was intrigued by what I saw but didn’t know what to really think. The rest of the movie for the most part focussed on the family (Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Hunter McCracken, Tye Sheridan) as time goes by. At that point, I started to oddly enough like this movie and I was interested in seeing everything progress. After the family segment, I’m not really sure what to think of the movie, I don’t even know what the ending was supposed to mean and represent. I don’t really know what this movie is about (apart from life). The movie does have a lot of monologues throughout the movie, though I didn’t find myself picking up on what they were meaning. I can see how other people would be bored of the movie, it is very slow paced. I only really started being fully engaged after 30 minutes into the movie. But yet there is something about it that I liked, I haven’t yet figured out what it is.

This movie has a lot of talented actors with Brad Pitt, Jessica Chastain, Sean Penn and Tye Sheridan. They are all pretty good, with Brad Pitt and Jessica Chastain being the stand outs as the parents of the family. Even when they aren’t saying anything, it’s easy to see how they feel in certain situations just through their expressions and reactions. Sean Penn doesn’t really get to do much, most of his limited screentime is him just walking around while Terrence Malick follows him around with a camera. With that said, this happens with every actor, a lot of the movie at times just follows the actors/characters around with them having no dialogue and not doing anything that important. I’m guessing that this is what happens with every actor in Terrence Malick movies.

One thing that all people who see this movie will say is that Tree of Life looks absolutely beautiful. Every shot is framed well and looks magnificent. Even the 10 minute ‘creation segment’ was beautiful. I couldn’t tell always what the shots of certain aspects were supposed to represent, but they looked beautiful at the very least. And plus, a lot of the time Malick manages to make the audience feel emotions through his imagery. The only thing directionwise that’s off was a scene with dinosaurs, the CGI looked incredibly fake, embarrassingly bad, and it kinda takes you out of the movie. The soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat was great and really added to the movie.

Tree of Life is not an easily accessible movie. There are a lot of people who really don’t like this movie and find it to be pretentious and boring and I don’t really blame them for thinking this. Tree of Life is different, it’s slow, it’s unconventional. But if you are willing to give it a shot, I recommend watching it. Just know what you are going in for. I myself am not sure about what I had watched but I liked it at a point, it’s difficult to describe why. I get the feeling that Malick’s films are meant to make people feel emotions rather than it be technically good like most movies, not conventionally anyway. I know this review hasn’t been very descriptive of the movie, but honestly that goes to show how unusual of a movie this is.

The Gunman (2015) Review

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The Gunman

Time: 115 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic Violence and Offensive Language.
Cast:
Sean Penn as Jim Terrier
Jasmine Trinca as Annie
Javier Bardem as Felix
Ray Winstone as Stanley
Mark Rylance as Cox
Idris Elba as Jackie Barnes
Peter Franzén as Reiniger
Director: Pierre Morel

Eight years after fleeing the Congo following his assassination of that country’s minister of mining, former assassin Jim Terrier (Sean Penn) is back, suffering from PTSD and digging wells to atone for his violent past. After an attempt is made on his life, Terrier flies to London to find out who wants him dead — and why. Terrier’s search leads him to a reunion with Annie (Jasmine Trinca), a woman he once loved, who is now married to an oily businessman (Javier Bardem) with dealings in Africa.

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On paper this movie seemed like it would be good. It had great actors like Sean Penn, Javier Bardem, Ray Winstone and others involved and it was also directed by the director of the original (and only good) Taken. So where did it go wrong? Despite the talented involved, they just couldn’t rise above the uninteresting and boring story. With characters not interesting enough to care about and the poor script, the actors ultimately didn’t have anything to work with, and even the action scenes aren’t that great. There are hints of a good movie but that’s it, only hints.

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The best scene in the movie was the first scene, which involves Sean Penn carrying out an assassination. There isn’t a lot of action in the movie, I’ll just say this now, the trailer downright lies about what this movie is about. However even looking at this as anything but an action movie it fails. This movie is slow and really boring, even if it supposed to be a slow burn action movie. Because of how slow and uninteresting the movie is it’s at time hard to follow what’s going on. However there was a twist in the movie which I saw coming, even though I wasn’t really following the movie that much, which really was a bad sign. The worst part about the writing is that I didn’t care about what was going on. There are glimpses of a good movie, apparently it was based on a book. However for whatever reason, this movie didn’t turn out as well as it should have.

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Sean Penn was pretty good in his role, he doesn’t have a lot of good material to work with but he at least had more than some of the other actors. Idris Elba and Ray Winstone are only in like a few scenes and are fine but they don’t do much. Javier Bardem is also wasted (both literally and figuratively), he just plays some drunk guy who’s on screen for about 10 minutes. The only actor other than Penn who gets something to do is Mark Rylance, but even he was quite limited in what he could bring. I don’t think anyone gives a bad performance but no one really gives much of an impression either.

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There wasn’t much action in this movie but when it was on screen it was fine. However the action while not shaky, does use a lot of cuts, making some of these scenes a little incomprehensible at times. The best scene of ‘action’ once again was the opening assassination because Sean Penn actually aims and shoots someone. The rest of the action mostly involves him hiding behind a piece of cover and shooting people from there. Also as I previously said, it’s hard to care about what’s going on, so when the action scenes happen there is no intensity or suspense.

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The Gunman isn’t a good movie and it really should have. The talented cast is wasted, the action is not very prevalent and when it’s on screen, it’s only above average quality, the pacing is slow, and it’s hard to care about what’s going on with the poor script and characterisation. It’s not the worst movie I’ve seen this year but there is really no reason to watch it, despite the talent involved. Even in a non-action mind-set, there’s not much enjoyment to be had in watching this movie.

The Game (1997) Review

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The Game

Time: 129 Minutes
Age Rating: 860940[1] Violence and Offensive Language
Cast:
Michael Douglas as Nicholas Van Orton
Sean Penn as Conrad Van Orton
James Rebhorn as Jim Feingold
Deborah Kara Unger as Christine
Director: David Fincher

Nicholas Van Orton (Michael Douglas) is a very wealthy San Francisco banker, but he is an absolute loner, even spending his birthday alone. In the year of his 48th birthday (the age his father committed suicide) his brother Conrad (Sean Penn), who has gone long ago and surrendered to addictions of all kinds, suddenly returns and gives Nicholas a card giving him entry to unusual entertainment provided by something called Consumer Recreation Services (CRS). Giving up to curiosity, Nicholas visits CRS and all kinds of weird and bad things start to happen to him.

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David Fincher has always been one of my favourite directors, with how he portrays his stories masterfully and with his great visual style. Fincher again doesn’t disappoint with The Game, one of his earlier films. It is a great mystery movie with twists and turns which really does pay off. As usual he brings his A-game here and delivers in making a captivating thriller. Although the way the film concluded needed some work, The Game for the most part works well and is intriguing from start to finish.

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The Game is a thriller which takes its time before the thrills start happening. Although it may take a little while, it is really worth the wait. Because the film starts out quite calmly, it’s really entertaining to see the tension eventually build from there as time goes on. It takes many twists and turns and I was entertained all the way through. There is a developing sense of dread and everything has a sort of nightmarish tone. The whole time as Michael Douglas is thrown into many crazy situations, you wonder what is going on behind the scenes. The film’s plot works up until the end, which has really divided a lot of people. Admittedly, the ending did have some problems, it was a little farfetched and when certain details are brought to light, you’ll notice that there are some conveniences to it. Despite some of the flaws however, I actually thought that it was a pretty good ending, even if I had to suspend my disbelief with some of the aspects.

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Michael Douglas is really good, especially when he is in scenes that are intense. He manages to convey all of his characters emotions. A lot of things that happened in the past involving his father comes into play into the movie and he makes it convincing. It’s mainly Michael Douglas’s show but many other actors do quite well in this movie. A lot of the other actors are great in the scenes they in, such as Sean Penn who really does make a strong impression despite only appearing a few times in the film.

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David Fincher made this movie look fantastic, as he always does with all his movies. The shots look like they were well prepared and repeatedly filmed until they got it right. Some scenes do stand out, such as an intense scene with Michael Douglas in a taxi cab as well as a scene near in the last act (which I won’t spoil) which was really well done. The soundtrack is also quite effective, sometimes it’s not that noticeable but it really works in suspenseful scenes. The editing ties everything together and is very effective as well.

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The Game is a great film with an entertaining and interesting plot, a good visual style and great pacing. Its ending could have been done a little better, but apart from that, there isn’t that much that’s wrong with The Game. It’s one of Fincher’s most underappreciated films and it’s definitely worth checking out.