Tag Archives: Stacy Keach

Gotti (2018) Review

Time: 112 Minutes
Cast:
John Travolta as John Gotti
Kelly Preston as Victoria Gotti
Stacy Keach as Neil Dellacroce
Spencer Lofranco as John Gotti Jr.
Pruitt Taylor Vince as Angelo Ruggiero
William DeMeo as Sammy Gravano
Chris Mulkey as Frank DeCicco
Leo Rossi as Bartholomew Boriello
Chris Kerson as Wilfred Johnson
Victor Gojcaj as Father Murphy
Sal Rendino as Vincent Gigante
Director: Kevin Connolly

Raised on the streets of New York, young John Gotti (John Travolta) found his way into the Gambino crime family, eventually having the boss removed and becoming head of the powerful family. His wife (Kelly Preston) asked only one thing from John: to never expose their children to his profession. But he broke the vow, and John Jr. (Spencer Lofranco) took his place as his father’s Capo.

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I had been feeling the need to watch Gotti for some time, but not for the reason that they wanted. When Gotti got panned by critics, the marketing team for the film went all out on them, saying that critics hated the movie but “audiences loved Gotti”. That actually got some people to see the movie, including me. There’s also a weird connection with Gotti to MoviePass and Rotten Tomatoes but I’m not going to bother talking about that. Watching the movie finally, I can see why it received so much negativity. The writing is bad, the directing is bad, it’s not interesting, it’s boring, and it makes some questionable decisions. It doesn’t have enough redeeming or entertaining qualities to make watching it worthwhile.

If you look at the trailer for Gotti, the story looks straightforward and in chronological order. Unfortunately the movie jumps all over the place in time and I have no idea why. It just comes across as being jumbled for no reason, it really would’ve benefited by actually having the scenes in chronological order. There is no real focus to the story, Gotti is essentially an hour and 50 minutes of John Travolta playing John Gotti in random moments in his life. You just sort of stop trying to follow what’s going on at a point. I didn’t know too much about Gotti going into it and coming out of it I didn’t learn much more about him. Something that’s very apparent is that throughout the entirety of Gotti, it feels like they are trying to take a lot from other gangster movies like Goodfellas and Casino, such as the dialogue and certain directing choices (which I’ll get into later). With the way that it’s executed however, it comes across as very amateurish. It’s really difficult to care about what’s going on. For example, early in the movie, a member of Gotti’s family dies and it fails so incredibly badly at delivering any sort of impact. The most bizarre aspect however is how the filmmakers tried to present Gotti. This movie actually tries to portray Gotti as this likable family man, and it’s… really questionable. Ironically, despite the fact that they are clearly trying to take a lot from Martin Scorsese gangster films, they didn’t seem to pick up the fact that he didn’t try to make them likable or sympathetic, he just portrays them how they are. Maybe initially the lifestyle is presented as being great and glorious at first but by the end its made clear that it’s not a good thing. Kevin Connelly and everyone who worked on the story for Gotti seemed to only get the first half of that. In fact, this movie ends with a montage of Gotti supporters talking about how Gotti was a great guy and all that. The movie ends on a pro-Gotti note, and that is honestly one of the most bizarre endings that I’ve ever seen. The strangest thing is that we don’t really get to learn enough about why so many people liked him so much through the events shown, the film couldn’t even touch upon that aspect at least. I’m not sure how this movie ended up being so disastrous but I found out some things that could somewhat point towards it. This Gotti biopic took eight years to reach fruition, after several directors, cast changes, and script changes. On top of that, this movie has over 50 producers/executive producers, and I have never seen a movie with that astoundingly amount of producers. While there no doubt is a number of things wrong with this movie, these had probably contributed to it.

To their credit, the actors in the movie try to act their best but the writing and the direction really hinders them from being good. John Travolta is probably the best part about Gotti, he definitely puts everything into his performance. It’s not a great performance and he gets very over the top especially when he flips out, and at times it’s funny instead of being dramatic, but I’m almost glad that happened because hammy and over the top Travolta is always fun to watch, and added some entertainment to the movie. Other actors like Kelly Preston, Stacy Keach, Spencer Lofranco and Pruitt Taylor Vince didn’t give particularly good performances either but I don’t blame it on their talent, with the writing that they had, most actors wouldn’t be able to work wonders with it.

I’ve not seen Kevin Connelly’s work as a director, but his direction for Gotti wasn’t that good. Once again it feels like he’s trying to imitate other gangster movies. You have the protagonist narrating (the film opens and closes with John Travolta as Gotti talking directly to the camera), montages of things happening like people getting killed off, and much more like that. Gotti tries to imitate the style of classic A grade gangster movies but can’t pull off it. Pitbull did the score to Gotti (yes, you read it right, Mr Worldwide himself composed the score of a gangster movie) and it really wasn’t that good, he goes from having some synth-like music to trying to sort of imitate the Godfather score. Also, some of his songs made an appearance in the movie, you know, decades before the songs would even exist in real life. A lot of the score and song choices made the movie and scenes hard to take seriously at all. It’s so bizarre and out of place. Also, for a film with a $40 million budget, at times it feels so incredibly basic. One scene is a neighbourhood party and it features a couple shots of fireworks that looks like stock footage instead of actually being shot for the movie. Another aspect that is distracting is that John Travolta as Gotti has some flashforwards to when he is really older and he has a massive amount of makeup on him, but Gotti’s son played by Spencer Lofranco looks the same age in all his scenes, so I’m not sure what happened there. Those are just some examples of directing choices that really stood out as being particularly bad.

Gotti isn’t really worth watching, not even as a so bad it’s good kind of movie. It definitely has some elements that you can make fun of and have fun with, most of the time though it’s just uninteresting. In terms of legitimately good parts, the actors are trying their best and John Travolta at times is fun to watch, but that’s it. It’s not a horrible experience, but you don’t really get anything out of it at the same time. You don’t learn anything about John Gotti, and it’s not so outrageously bad that it’s fun to watch, it’s just the boring kind of bad. I guess the movie is mostly harmless enough but it’s not something to rush out to see as soon as possible, far from it.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For (2014) Review

Time: 102 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Graphic violence & sex scenes.
Cast
Mickey Rourke as Marv
Jessica Alba as Nancy Callahan
Josh Brolin as Dwight McCarthy
Eva Green as Ava Lord
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Johnny
Rosario Dawson as Gail
Bruce Willis as John Hartigan
Powers Boothe as Senator Roark
Dennis Haysbert as Manute
Ray Liotta as Joey
Stacy Keach as Alarich Wallenquist
Jaime King as Goldie and Wendy
Christopher Lloyd as Kroenig
Jamie Chung as Miho
Jeremy Piven as Bob
Christopher Meloni as Mort
Juno Temple as Sally
Director: Robert Rodriguez

The damaged denizens of Sin City return for another round of stories from the mind of Frank Miller. In “Just Another Saturday Night,” Marv (Mickey Rourke) struggles to recall a nasty run-in with some frat boys. In “A Dame to Kill For,” Dwight McCarthy (Josh Brolin) forsakes his battle with his inner demons to help Ava Lord (Eva Green), the woman of his dreams and nightmares. In “Nancy’s Last Dance,” Nancy Callahan (Jessica Alba), mad with grief and rage over Hartigan’s death, vows revenge.

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I am a big fan of the original Sin City, with its comic booky style and direction. For a while there was talks of a Sin City sequel and it was a little worrying as it took 9 years for it to actually get made, which didn’t look good at all. A Dame to Kill For finally dropped in 2014, to some mixed reception, seemingly disappointing even some of the fans of the original. Despite the mixed reception surrounding the sequel I really liked it. A lot of what made the original to be great is here, from its direction, talented actors and more. It’s not as great as the original, most of it being due to the stories not being quite as great or interesting, but it is still a very solid movie overall.

Like in the first Sin City, the sequel has multiple stories and also like with the original, the stories aren’t necessarily presented in chronological order, if you’ve watched the original Sin City you will be used to it. The stories follow Johnny (Joseph Gordon-Levitt), Dwight (Josh Brolin) and Nancy (Jessica Chastain), along with a brief storyline for Marv (Mickey Rourke). I overall liked all of the stories but they aren’t as interesting as the original. Out of all the main stories, only Dwight’s story is from a prewritten novel (that being A Dame to Kill For). The Nancy storyline is a continuation from her story from the original, the Johnny storyline is completely new and Marv is here because he’s a fan favourite (although he does make enjoyable appearances in the other stories as well). It’s unfortunate that the weakest storyline is the titular Dame to Kill For storyline, which does receive the most attention. It has its moments and is good enough but I’m not quite sure if I’d call it great enough. Overall though, this movie is quite similar to the original, and I had a great time with it.

Many of the original cast returns, with Mickey Rourke as Marv, Jessica Alba as Nancy, Rosario Dawson as Gail and others. They are all great, with Mickey Rourke’s Marv effortlessly being a standout. A surprising part of the movie is Jessica Alba, she was fine in the first movie as Nancy but here she actually is really good here, as Nancy since the first film has been going through a lot, and it was great seeing the change that she goes through. Powers Boothe was also a stand out here, he was in the original film for like one scene, but here he is a lot more prominent and has such a villous screen presence. Along with returning actors, there are also some talented new actors who are involved. Clive Owen was Dwight in the first Sin City but in this movie Josh Brolin is in his role and he does a very great job. Joseph Gordon Levvitt plays a brand new character named Johnny and he definitely owned his role, perfect casting. Eva Green plays Ava, the ‘Dame to Kill For’. Eva really was the perfect actress for the role. There’s not much complexity in terms of the actual character and is pretty much just a Femme Fatale, but then again the character in the original graphic novel is like that, so I can’t really blame her. All the actors do a good job, even the one scene actors like Ray Liotta and Christopher Lloyd make a solid impression.

A Dame to Kill For, like for the first Sin City has a unique style and it returns here, Robert Rodriguez directs this film well. The action is beautiful, violent, brutal and entertaining. The colour pallet is similar to the first movie’s, mostly black and white with some objects coloured (like red blood and a blue dress). As I said in my review of the first movie, it is the most accurate adaptation of a graphic novel, it’s whether you’re a fan of that style or not. And yes, like the first film it is gratuitously violent, and the action overall is just as entertaining. I will say that there is occasionally some really fake looking CGI (which didn’t really happen much in the original) but that doesn’t happen too often and doesn’t distract too much from the overall movie.

Sin City: A Dame to Kill For is a solid follow up to the original Sin City, if not being quite on the same level. It’s pretty much what you would expect from a Sin City movie with its characters, style and structure. Aside from it feeling maybe a little too much like the original and a couple technical aspects, the main thing holding it back from being as good as the original is that the stories aren’t as strong. If you liked the first Sin City I recommend at least giving the sequel a go. If you didn’t like the first Sin City don’t even bother, nothing here is going to change your mind.

Cell (2016) Review

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Time: 98 Minutes
Age Rating: 860949[1] Violence, offensive language and horror
Cast:
John Cusack as Clayton “Clay” Riddell
Samuel L. Jackson as Thomas “Tom” McCourt
Isabelle Fuhrman as Alice Maxwell
Stacy Keach as Charles Ardai
Wilbur Fitzgerald as Geoff
Alex ter Avest as Chloe
Owen Teague as Jordan
Catherine Dyer as Sally
E. Roger Mitchell as Roscoe
Erin Elizabeth Burns as Denise
Director: Tod Williams

When a strange signal pulsates through all cell phone networks worldwide, it starts a murderous epidemic of epic proportions when users become bloodthirsty creatures, and a group of people in New England are among the survivors to deal with the ensuing chaos after.

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Cell reunites John Cusack and Samuel L. Jackson for another Stephen King adaptation after 1408 (a film I still want to check out). Now I already heard that this movie was bad but the film somehow ended up being way worse than I thought it would be. The direction, writing, everything about this movie is so incredibly faulty that it astonishes me. However there are parts of it that were so unintentionally hilarious, so there were at least some enjoyable parts to the film.

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Cell has an interesting premise but the film doesn’t execute this premise well. There’s not much to say about the story, it’s not interesting at all. From the beginning of the movie I could tell something was off. The opening credits scene was terrible, random black boxes would appear on the screen with white writing for the credits. It’s one of the worst opening credits scenes I’ve seen. This movie has so many unintentionally hilarious moments, most of it is due to the execution of the scenes. A good example of this is the opening airport scene, which was so laughable. The direction was really bad (which I’ll talk about soon) but also the violence, the zombies, the reactions, everything that was going on was so over the top it was so hard to take it seriously. The film has some of these moments every so often. And then it gets to the point where it’s just boring. Although I liked some performances in the movie I didn’t care about any of the characters because they weren’t really given any characterisation. The ending to this movie is so underwhelming, this film tries to be smart or tries to leave it up to interpretation but it just ends up feeling confusing. Also the scene is directed horribly. The ending was actually changed by Stephen King because some people didn’t like the novel’s ending. That’s another thing to mention, Stephen King co-wrote the script. One last thing to mention, this film uses the Trololo song in one scene, and as some people know, it’s a bit of an internet meme. It was the most hilarious moment in the entire film. Just thought I should mention that.

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John Cusack is okay in here but it often seems like he’s phoning it in (no pun intended). He often seemed bored throughout the movie. Samuel L. Jackson had a lot of energy though, and it was entertaining to watch him, he definitely made the movie more watchable. Isabelle Fuhrman is also pretty good here. However as I said earlier, the actors didn’t have much to work with, their characters aren’t interesting and we don’t particularly care for them.

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As I mentioned before, the direction of the film overall was terrible. The cinematography must’ve been all handheld, it was hard to tell what was going on, especially in action scenes. However it’s shaky even in simple dialogue scenes. The editing was also bad as well, often cutting and interrupting characters’ actions or dialogue. Whenever the film uses special effects, it was horrid. In the previously mentioned Airport scene, a plane crashes (for some reason) and it looked borderline Asylum film levels of effects. Overall, every action scene was hilariously bad, and unintentionally were some of the highlights of the film.

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Cell is an absolutely awful movie, it’s one of the worst movies of 2016. The whole direction of the movie was horrible, the characters aren’t interesting, the story wasn’t riveting at all and it just wasn’t good. What saves this movie from being complete garbage was a couple of performances and certain aspects of this movie that were unintentionally hilarious. Otherwise this film is mostly a boring disaster, it’s a shame, this film had a lot of potential.