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Grew up in Detroit, Michigan
Spent 9 years active duty with the U.S. Marine Corps (Staff Sergeant)
Former Marine Corps Drill Instructor
Recently moved back to Michigan after 15 years in San Jose, CA.
Work as a Project Manager
Married 23 years
3 kids (boy-27 (stepson), boy-20, and girl-11)
The Killer Inside Me (2010)
Somewhat hard to watch
I knew nothing of this film until it popped up on my menu one day. I think Casey Affleck is decent in somethings I've see, and there was nothing else on, so I gave it a whirl.
The scene of the beating of the Jessica Alba character was as disturbing as anything I have ever seen. I had this urge to reach through my screen and strangle the life out of him. That made his character so much more disturbing, but I guess that was the point.
An interesting story and movie, but I can't get that beating scene out of my mind. Anyone who would do something like that deserves to be hung from the town square.
Absolutely Superb Movie!
I don't usually rate movies with a 10, as 10 means this is as perfect as it can get and I don't see many of those, but this movie definitely fits the bill. This is an astoundingly great movie.
The movie is essentially about 4 people, plus a horse, who, against all odds somehow find each other.
Mr. Howard is a self-made wealthy man who, nonetheless, has had to try and overcome excruciating heartbreak in his life, to include the death of his young son, and the abandonment of his wife. Trying to live his life, but undoubtedly walking around in a funk, he somehow has the good fortune to meet a woman who brings him back to life. Add to that the chance meeting of a rather eccentric, but effective horse trainer in Tom Smith, a character who no one thinks much of but knows his horses. Finally a hurt, angry, rather overgrown jockey named Red Pollard, who is searching in vain for someone to believe in him, and give him a chance. Then there is the horse...Seabiscuit. Another mistreated, misunderstood animal who, nevertheless, has a competitive spirit and a longing for somewhere to belong (yeah, so I'm describing what a horse thinks and feels, but, so what...it's my review).
What struck me the most is the actors performances. You could see and feel that these characters all genuinely seemed to like each other. This brought me so close to the film and the characters. I cared for each of them, and I wanted them all to succeed...and succeed they did.
This was a pitch-perfect film. Everything about was just about perfect IMHO. Top rate direction, beautifully photographed, a look and feel of the times. Jeff Bridges was just perfect as Mr. Howard (he didn't overdo it, which he does sometimes - "Arlington Road"; "Blown Away"). His character was perfectly understated, but you found yourself caring a great deal for him. Chris Cooper gave an on-the-money performance as Tom Smith. Tobey McGuire was a great Red Pollard, and Elizabeth Banks perfectly rounded out the quintet as the second Mrs. Howard, who brought Bridges' character back to life.
The racing sequences were perfectly done, and thrilling to watch.
Yes, this movie played with my heartstrings, but it hit all the right notes. I still can't watch this without tears in my eyes.
Exceptional movie...Highly Recommended.
Not really that bad...
Well, I don't think this movie was quite as bad as some reviewers are making it. I do agree that the direction left something to be desired. Some of the early part of the film was a little sloppy. There were short scenes that seemed to come out of nowhere, and didn't seem to have anything to do with the flow of what we were seeing. As a former military man, I was astonished to see a scene where Nicolas Cage wore a mis-matched khaki naval uniform. Never happen, folks. However, I thought the movie got a little better as it went along. I was very disappointed that race had to be inserted into this. There didn't seem to be any reason why race had to play ANY part in this story. I don't know why so many directors (& producers and writers) seem to feel the need to do this (well, I have my suspicions, but that's a story for another day). The scene of the cook spitting on an officers piece of pie was despicable, and I wondered why that was even included in this. It served absolutely no real purpose. This was, supposedly, a crack naval ship and crew, entrusted with a top secret mission, and a sailor is spitting on an officer's food? But the survival scenes were done fairly well, and it was clear the incredible suffering & tragedy these men were exposed to. I thought the movie started rather poorly, but improved as it went along. I think, perhaps, Van Peebles is lacking in experience, and bit off a bit more than he could chew, but, all in all, I thought it was a decent enough movie. Cage played a fairly stoic, controlled character, but I think that was a good choice on his part. The story was what needed attention, not some overblown character. He seemed to hit the right note as a Naval Ship Captain. The actors all did adequate jobs, and it wasn't exactly a terrible movie.
Not very good
This is just not a very good "thriller". For one, the "twist" near the end of the movie (attempted murder v/s murder) , you could see coming a mile away.
The casting left much to be desired also. I believe Ryan Gosling is a terrific actor, but his performance in this film was poor. He came across as just a young, arrogant POS lawyer. His gum-chewing, "cooler-than-the-other-side-of-the-pillow" act was cringe-inducing. He was supposedly this young, hotshot lawyer, yet his actions were dumber than a fence post. The scene in the Judge's chambers with the Judge and Anthony Hopkins, after he was attacked in the courtroom by the Detective, showed a somewhat befuddled lawyer who had no idea what was going on. Really??? Thought you were the young high-powered hotshot. He threatens Hopkins with "Don't make me come across this table". Really??? Right after an assault in the courtroom, this is all he can think of to say? In front of the Judge? Really??? I could be wrong, but do lawyers make threats that they can't actually follow through on, if need be? "Don't make me come across this table" sounds like a threat in a barroom between 2 construction workers. I doubt if any judge would permit something like that in chambers between 2 opposing counsel, and a young, hotshot should have known that was inappropriate.
The whole "find the gun" charade was just tiresome. The Detective told him that they had gone through the house 3 times...these are knowledgeable, experienced police and forensics people. There IS NO GUN IN THE HOUSE! Have as many temper tantrums as you like...Treating the detective and his people like mis-behaving children will not help, and shows you are no hotshot. It's a law...you can't fit a square peg into a round hole, but you're going to force this Detective's nose into the dirt until he shits a gun? Nice hotshot lawyering there, slick.
There was a decent idea for a movie here, but this was incredibly mis-handled, and Ryan Gosling completely misplayed the lawyer.
I give it a 3 because of Anthony Hopkins performance. He was a completely unlikable, slimy snake, and he seemed to relish the role.
Otherwise, this was just poorly written, and poorly made. The casting of Gosling was a mistake.
Something New (2006)
Just can't help themselves
I really like the part where the girl in the relationship is asked by her brother "Are you sleeping with the enemy"? The "ENEMY"...?!?! You know what...FU** you, the horse you rode in on, and everything about you.
Just more mindless, liberal, millennial mush-brained BS
An Unfinished Life (2005)
OK, not great
This movie was...okay...for what it was, I guess. Redford IS great in this. He looks very grizzled and worn out and plays his stoic character very well. Some good, tender moments come out of his interaction with his granddaughter. The rest of the cast was functional, although no one else really stood out. The movie was very predictable, and had a few moments of unrealistic sentimentality. The scene near the end where Morgan Freeman and the bear confront each other was, to me, cringe-inducing. Do you think this bear thought to himself "Well, I've already messed this guy up...I think this time I'll give him a pass"? This is a PREDATOR. They don't think in those terms. They sense a threat or a meal, and you are in big trouble. Of course, this was played up for the "Awww" factor, but I found it insulting and unrealistic. Also, there was really no big climax. The penultimate scene, where Redford kicks abusive Gary's ass and sends him on his way was played out much too quickly, and Gary pretty much tucked his tail between his legs, and caught the first bus out of town. That was it. There should have been something much more menacing about Gary. He shouldn't have been that easy to scare off. The movie didn't so much end as it just kind of petered out.
The scenery and Redford's acting were first rate, and everyone else did a decent job, but overall I found it to be disappointing.
Battlefield Earth (2000)
Not THAT bad...
I have to admit I somewhat enjoyed this movie. There are some movies that are so BAD, they're GOOD, and I guess I would put this movie in that category ("Cobra" with Sylvester Stallone is another good example). I can enjoy how creatively BAD it is. The bit about the humans teaching themselves to fly sophisticated jet aircraft in a short span of time...well...yeah, that is a bit out there, but there are tons of movies that require you to suspend your disbelief in order to enjoy them. I suppose I see this movie in that vein. Put aside the clear departures from reality, and enjoy it for what it is. It's a bizarre, strange tale, but it held my interest. Obviously, it got produced and distributed, so SOMEONE thought it was worth putting out there. If you're in the mood for a goofy, creatively bad movie, you could certainly do a lot worse. I'd give it a 5.
The Devil's Own (1997)
Not really very good
The initial problem I had with this film is the fact that an IRA soldier, in New York to buy and transport weapons to bring back to Ireland, would bunk in with an NYPD Sergeant and his family. That sounds like asking for trouble to me. Not a smart move. I can't imagine the IRA sanctioning a rather reckless move like this. The large amount of money Pitt's character was carrying, and the importance of these weapons making it to Ireland had me shaking my head in disbelief that Rory (Pitt's character) would take such a risk of trying to pull this off right under this police sergeant's nose.
Some on this site have complained about Brad Pitt's Irish accent, however I thought Pitt was easily the best part of this film. He succeeded in creating a troubled, but somewhat sympathetic character. It is his performance that I even gave this film a 4. Treat Williams was also very good as the mean, black-hearted weapons contact for Pitt's character in New York.
I had enormous problems with Harrison Ford's efforts in this movie, if "efforts" is the right word. When Ford first burst on to the scene many years ago, he looked like a solid, creative acting talent. However, in recent years, he has taken on this goody-goody, moralistic, cutesy-pie, boy scout character style which he seems to hide behind, and it's just ridiculous, and reflects really lazy acting (see: "Air Force One" and "Patriot Games", to name two). It is truly irritating and disappointing, and brought this movie way down in my view.
I had trouble swallowing the premise, but Ford's performance just made this cringe-inducing to me.
In Harm's Way (1965)
Excellent WWII Movie
I've always enjoyed watching this movie immensely. I realize some liberties were taken to create fictional characters, and a fictional military operation. But this is an entertaining and engrossing film.
John Wayne's Rock Torrey is an extremely capable naval commander, and a smart, decent human being who attracts quite a crew around him. The character is someone you like and admire. Everyone seems to feel that Rock will get them through whatever dangers lay ahead.
Unfortunately, Commander Eddington, played by Kirk Douglas, cannot control the serious sexual demons roiling around inside of him. However, as his last act on earth, he takes an unauthorized plane trip to do a little reconnaissance on the Japanese fleet before he is finally shot down. This was really a subtly nuanced character. He is, at once, an effective second in command to Rock; he is also a seriously disturbed individual. It is difficult to resolve the incredible bravery with the cowardly rape. Well done by Douglas.
Patricia Neal, as a tough as nails nurse, fits in very nicely with Rock Torrey. You root for these two to find a life together.
Brandon De Wilde, as a young Naval Ensign, and Rock Torrey's estranged son, is at first resentful of his absentee father, but steps up for his father when he comes to understand the character his father possesses.
This is a very entertaining movie. It keeps you in your seat a little like a soap opera, but John Wayne just dominates this movie. His is a powerful character, and his presence is the key that all the other characters revolve around.
Gardens of Stone (1987)
Strangely quiet, gentle movie considering the subject matter. Not much action, but quite a bit of discussion of the ramifications and consequences of war.
Portrays the contrasts between p*ss-and-vinegar young soldiers, and the old-hand leadership of Sergeant Hazard and the Sergeant Major.
The death of Jackie Willow is stunning, and the scenes afterward are sensitively done, and very sad. There is much to consider in the prices we all pay for being so ready to get into combat. Sergeant Hazard understands the costs, and wants to get back into the action, if only to ensure no more young men enthusiastically stumble into death.
Very well done, and very well acted.
Remarkable film, with top-of-the-line performances by all involved, especially Paul Newman. There are certain roles that certain actors seem born to play, and "Hud" is Paul Newman's role.
Hud is exceedingly charming, capable and charismatic, but there is emotional damage hidden within, and he is also cruel and unforgiving, and wants to shun and hurt anyone who gets too close. Anybody who gets too close to Hud does so on Hud's terms. His terms are to take whatever he wants. He has no inclination to understand what anyone may want or need from him. He pursues his own wants and needs, at whatever expense.
Brandon De Wilde is Hud's young nephew, Lon. Lon admires Hud, and aspires to live the rugged life that Hud himself lives. It is through their relationship that Lon begins to see the cruelty and thoughtlessness behind Hud's charm. Most of the movie wedges young Lon between his brash, virile Uncle Hud, and his moral, upstanding Grandfather (Hud's father). Lon is also the son of Hud's dead brother; a death that still is a source of unspoken pain between Hud and his father.
The other interesting character is that of Alma, played by Patricia Neal. She is the somewhat homely, but undeniably sexy housekeeper for the house full of men. She is a woman who has lived a somewhat hard life, and seen her share of hurt. She keeps Hud at arms length, although certainly aware of his virility and sex appeal. She, too, is treated to ugly examples of this attractive, emotionally damaged man.
Emotionally stunning movie; many remarkable segments, including the riveting cattle slaughter scenes.
Easily an Oscar-worthy performance by Newman. One of the more remarkable portrayals of his career.
Dawn of the Dead (2004)
I can't say I'm a big horror movie fan, but this was a decent, fun movie to watch. The movie was put together well, and begins horrifyingly. The sweeping shots of the unbelievable chaos going on as Sarah Polley escapes her neighborhood are well done.
I was really taken with the opening montage, portrayed with a Johnny Cash song, which I'm guessing is called "When the man comes around". Very good movie opening; well done, and provides a visual and musical taste of the ugliness to come.
The movie provides a little black humor in the middle, as the occupants of the mall indulge in silly fantasies to temporarily escape the terrifying situation they are in (Sex, rooftop golf, dress-up, etc.), all done to a tune that seems to be called "Get down with the sickness". There is also a segment of "Zombie-Celebrity-look-a-like" shooting gallery that is humorous.
Ving Rhames, Jake Weber and Mekhi Phifer are excellent actors who lend name recognition, and strong screen presence to this remake. The other actors all do a fine job rounding out the characters trapped in the mall.
Not overly gory, but an enjoyable, and well done, horror movie.
Stick around for the end credits, for a montage hinting at the fate of our heroes.
Open Range (2003)
An engrossing, well-made film. This movie takes it's time to make it's points, and that is genuinely appreciated by a certain segment of the movie-going public. The film takes it's time to develop the characters, and develop the circumstances that lead to the climactic showdown. Maybe the only complaint I might have is the sometimes overly stilted diaglogue, but it works, for the most part.
The story of prideful men, living a hard life in the latter days of the American frontier. These are men with regretful episodes in their past, but they believe in moral good, trust among men, and living life with dignity. They are willing to stand up when these things are breeched, and take men to task for trespassing.
Robert Duvall has probably never been better as Boss Spearman, a trail boss who has learned to live life the hard way. One of the best lines in the movie is delivered by Abraham Benrubi (Mose) about Robert Duvall's character. After a storm, Boss goes out looking for the crew's horses. After a time, Boss comes riding back into camp with all the horses rounded up. Mose looks on admiringly, and says "Ol' Boss...he sure can cowboy, can't he?".
Kevin Costner is excellent in his role as Charley Waite, a man still haunted by a somewhat murderous past. It is Boss's moral courage, coupled with Charley's underlying explosive violence, that keeps you spellbound as the two confront the brutal town bosses and their henchmen.
Annette Bening, James Russo and Michael Gambon are excellent in their roles, and makes this a very entertaining western.
A fine movie; well-acted and well-made.
In Cold Blood (1967)
Fantastic, Disturbing film
Remarkable, disturbing film about the true-life, senseless, brutal murder of a small-town family, along with the aftermath, and examination of the lives of the killers, Dick Hickok and Perry Smith.
No matter how much time goes by, or how dated this film may look, it still resonates the utter incomprehensibility of criminal acts such as this.
This really traces multiple tragedies: The tragedy, brutality and senselessness of the murder of the Clutter family, a decent farm family in small-town Holcomb, Kansas; and the wasted, brutal and sad lives of Hickok and Smith.
An interesting point is made in the film: that neither of these two immature, scared, petty criminals would have ever contemplated going through with something like this alone. But, together, they created a dangerous, murderous collective personality; one that fed the needs and pathology of each of them. They push each other along a road of "proving" something to each other. That they were man enough to do it, to carry it out; neither wants to be seen as too cowardly to complete their big "score"; an unfortunate and dangerous residue of the desolate lives they led. These were two grown-up children, who live in a criminal's world of not backing down from dares; who constantly need to prove manhood and toughness. in this instance, these needs carried right through to the murder of the Clutters.
The film contains a somewhat sentimentalized look at the Clutter family, but the point is made. These were respected, law-abiding, small-town people, who didn't deserve this terrifying fate. The movie also gives us a sense of the young lives of Hickok and Smith. Perry Smith, whose early life was filled with security and love, but watched in horror as alcohol took his family down a tragic path. Hickok, poor and left pretty much to his own devices, not able to see how he fit in, using his intelligence and charm to con everyone he came into contact with.
An interesting, and maybe the first, look at capital punishment, and what ends we hope to achieve. Is this nothing more than revenge killing for a murder that rocked a nation at a time when we had not yet had to fully face that there might be such predators among us, or does putting these guys at the end of a rope truly provide a deterent to the childish and brutal posturing of men like these? Is it possible to deter men who live lives of deceit, operating under the radar, believing they fool everyone they come into contact with? To be deterred, you must believe it's possible you will be caught. Is it possible to deter these men who believe they are too clever to be caught?; who have committed hundreds of petty crimes, and got away with them? This was supposed to be a "cinch", "no witnesses".
When caught, Hickok finds he can't charm and con the agents the way he had department store clerks. Smith, who believes he deserves such a fate anyway, who seemed to be the only one who truly grasped the gravity of what they had done, willingly tells the story when he learns that Hickok has cowardly caved in. Hickok blinked first. A silly game of chicken between two immature, emotionally damaged, dangerous men.
Fascinating psychological thriller, telling a story of a horrendous crime in this nation's history. Stunning portrayals by Robert Blake and Scott Wilson. These roles made their careers.
The Italian Job (2003)
Not the greatest picture, but an enjoyable enough movie.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS I like Mark Wahlberg's character. He plays Charlie, the tough, but easygoing leader of a gang of thieves. He is the heir apparent, and takes over leadership of the crew from retiring thief legend and father figure, played by Donald Sutherland. The crew pulls off a successful "Italian Job", a gold heist, but are ripped off by a slimy crewmember, played by Ed Norton. During the rip-off, Sutherland is killed.
The majority of the movie takes place a year later, as the crew forms once again to take revenge, and get the gold back.
The director keeps the action and the plot moving along pretty well, and the cast are likable, and seem to be having a good time.
Not an award winner, and there might be plot holes, but it is an enjoyable, decently made movie.
The Village (2004)
Starts out decently, then disappoints
An absorbing, tense, creepy drama for the most part. The earlier part of the movie does a fine job developing the various characters, and building a sense of dread and mystery about the horror surrounding the town.
However, the "twist" is revealed much too early, and made Ivy's journey through the woods nearly meaningless. Why not wait to reveal what Ivy's father told her until later in the movie? It would have made the journey much more terrifying. It just didn't make any sense to me, and made the rest of the movie rather anticlimactic.
I felt Joaquin Phoenix was a major disappointment. I get that he was the strong, silent young stud of the village, but his acting was nearly comatose. William Hurt was exceptional, as was Bryce Dallas Howard and Adrien Brody.
Started out very well, and could have been a very good atmospheric thriller, but just lost it's way and fizzled out.
CSI: NY (2004)
I continue to be amazed at shows like this, that seem to be popping up more and more. The original CSI was, for the most part, good and gripping television, with a unique look at law enforcement procedure. Whether it was necessarily realistic was a question that was easily avoided. For the most part, the original CSI stuck to the premise of evidence gathering and processing as a key factor in developing a criminal case. The bits with crime scene technicians questioning suspects while the assigned detective (who actually has investigative authority over the case) sat silently by was a little much, but didn't seem to overwhelm the overall show. That is clearly not the case with CSI:NY, nor it's sister show, CSI: Miami However, with CSI: Miami, and this show, the plots seem ridiculously contrived, and the technicians carry themselves with an overblown, overbearing authority that doesn't really seem to fit their actual role. In CSI:NY, we have a technician whose "New Yawk" accent has seemed to steadily increase with each succeeding episode, and also seems to come and go, with varying degrees of thickness. He has also cultivated the goateed look, probably to enhance his look of business-like toughness. We have a female technician whose prime acting ability seems to be puffing her lips out; another female technician who, in one episode, handles weapons like a deranged Rambo figure, to convince us of...what, exactly? Gary Sinise, normally an excellent actor, as a blank-faced, authority figure (the obligatory former-Marine).
Any white male suspects get talked down to, and treated with humiliation at every opportunity, to convince us of...what, exactly? Any character who hints at white, lower-class criminality is treated with utter contempt, unless the character is a soft-spoken white female, who is a victim of a lower-class, white male petty criminal; thus the violins start, and she then becomes the "victim", regardless of any choices she herself made which put her in this position. It's someone else's fault. Meanwhile, the drug-gang, car-jacking, street-thug world is strangely absent, or treated with kid gloves. Is this supposed to show us how "diverse" and "not racist" we fancy ourselves to be? This show, along with CSI: Miami, are not network dramas made to entertain. These are shows produced and written with someone's political and social agenda in mind. This is not the business of these television dramas. I find myself cringing at some of the ridiculous dialogue; the moral posturing, cheesy one-liners, mock-hip slang and insulting behavior of the characters. You end up having to question the motivations of the characters: did you pursue this line of work to genuinely help people and society, or to take advantage of the power and authority your position gives you over people you clearly see as beneath you? There isn't anything remotely likable about these characters, nor is there anything interesting about the ridiculous coincidences and bent and twisted science which allows these characters to neatly wrap cases up. I don't believe for a second this is even a decent, realistic look at crime scene procedure. There seems to be an underlying attempt to socially "educate" us.
Decent enough movie, if not exactly all that well made. I enjoyed the storyline and the general tone. It seemed that the paparazzi in the film, primarily Tom Sizemore, Daniel Baldwin and Kevin Gage, seemed to be rather over-the-top psychos. However, I have no doubt that many film stars encounter people like this.
Probably the thing that brought the movie down a bit for me was utilizing Cole Hauser as a leading man. I hate to say that because I like a lot of the things he's been in ("Pitch Black", "Tears of the Sun"). He has a look of physicality and menace about him, and his eyes can pierce holes in you. He can definitely command a screen in the right situation (His brief role on ER as Samantha's ex, trying to weasel back into her life, was memorable). But he isn't the most expressive or charismatic guy, and he seemed out of place in a position of carrying a movie as a lead. He definitely does a decent job, but I didn't always get a sense of his claustrophobic rage at what was happening to his life and his family. I didn't quite get where he was going with this. Perhaps it would have been better if a scene had been staged where he deals with the last straw, and gets those eyes burning. That may well have told us we were going for a fun ride. Due to an incredible coincidence, he apparently "accidently" kills the Kevin Gage character, or was it coincidental or accidental? It was a little hard to tell with his reaction. I think I might rather have seen him finally at the end of his rope, and go after these guys methodically and brutally. These psychos would have deserved it.
I think Cole Hauser is a good actor, for what he is, but he's probably best in a character or secondary role.
Not a bad movie, although a little disjointed. Tom Sizemore's character is very disturbing, and Dennis Farina is good as a Detective, methodically piecing together what's going on.
Decent enough comedic movie about the tribulations of an air-headed news anchorman. Some of this drags, and is not funny at all, probably because this is an acquired taste.
The ending is silly, and humorless.
There are amusing bits in this, though: (Ron, working on his "guns", and massive erection sequence; the competing anchor teams "street fight"; Ron's drunken self-pity phase).
However, other scenes and aspects of this don't seem to be played out as well as they could have been. It's ironic: Fred Willard, who soberly plays the station manager in this, was probably born to play a character like this.
Will Ferrell is generally good, but the humor is odd and offbeat, and doesn't seem to hit all the marks it could have.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Great, Great Movie
An exceptional ensemble piece, with remarkable performances from some of the finest actors working today.
A movie about desperate, scrambling, down-on-their-luck real estate salesmen - why should we care about this? Well, we do care about it, as we are drawn into this seedy world by characters that you come to care about.
The dialogue is fantastic, and delivered by actors absolutely on top of their game. Jack Lemmon's sad, pathetic Shelly Levine character is stop-you-in-your-tracks good. A legendary salesman, now broke, insecure and still clinging to outdated sales techniques that used to work for him; powerless to help a daughter in need of extensive medical care; you can feel the sad, defeated rage from Lemmon as he desperately scrambles to convince his out-of-his-element boss (Kevin Spacey) how important he used to be, and how relevant he still is. These are fascinating and emotional scenes.
The movie moves along well, as these guys scheme and schmooze their way through whatever life puts in front of them. Utter and classic B.S. artists who know they have spent their lives lying and rationalizing themselves, but resigned to not knowing any other way.
The only purely honest, human conversations these guys have is with each other, complaining about each other and the conditions that they must work in. Everything else is "closing".
The Warriors (1979)
Entertaining, Fun Movie
Certainly not very realistic, but an entertaining, fun excursion into what can best be described as an urban nightmare. You come to care about the Warriors, who are human: frightened and terrified at their predicament, but underrated by their antagonists, tough as nails, and loyal to each other.
-POSSIBLE SPOILERS- The trip back to their coney island home is thrilling as they must run a gauntlet of menacing, bizarre street gangs. Each one presents a unique challenge for this resourceful bunch. The largest, and most deadly gang in the city, the Riffs, are kept out of things, hovering throughout the movie as a dreaded threat, until the end, when they inexplicably come to the Warriors' aid. This seems to come from respect; that the Warriors were able to make it back home. The Riffs weren't about to annihilate a gang that had made it through an impossible journey. Not to mention that they weren't guilty of a shooting they had been set up for.
The movie features a fantastic soundtrack, and a thrilling tone as the gang barely escapes various threats from rival gangs throughout the city. The cast is rather unremarkable, but very effective. James Remar is probably the best known actor among them, and he is a scene stealer as the emotional, angry, ready-to-rock-and-roll Ajax. Michael Beck is not really much of an actor, but he does a good job with the stoic leader, Swan.
Prince of the City (1981)
Really, a stunning, unforgettable movie. This movie outlined very well the pitfalls, traps and emotional traumas associated with this type of betrayal. Although Danny Ciello wanted to cleanse himself and do the right thing, the path to that was to bring down the cop family, the close, tightly knit unit that he was part of. The tales he told had life-and-death implications for all involved, and may have been more than he bargained for.
Treat Williams was tremendous in this, although I must indicate my one complaint with the movie. That was in Williams' occasional overacting. The pain and emotion mostly was silently played out by Williams. The wrenching, emotional toll was plain to see and sense, even on a tough cop's stoic face. However, Williams occasionally went emotionally berserk, ostensibly to indicate the depth of his turmoil. This is a minor complaint, though. Actually his performance in this was astonishing.
There is a scene in the movie where Danny goes out in the night to help a junkie informant. The junkie is sick and desperate. He has nowhere else to turn except his cop handler, Danny. Danny finds himself in the position of having to get his informant his fix to keep him from getting violently sick. Danny finds himself running around in the rain and mud, ripping off another sick junkie of his stash. This junkie is desperate, too, and his cries dig deep into Danny as he rips him off. Later, when he takes the junkie home, his wife/girlfriend gets the drugs, disappears into the bathroom and takes them. When the junkie breaks into the bathroom, she tells him that the drugs were junk, and she flushed them down the toilet. The junkie is back where he started, and he begins beating her. Danny stands there, soaking wet and muddy, stunned by what is happening, and what he is out there doing. This simple scene is played out very well, and Treat Williams stands there with the revulsion and heartbreak played out on his face. This is not what he is supposed to be doing; this is not what he became a cop for.
A well-directed, well-acted movie.
Money Train (1995)
Well, not really very good, but watchable
Not really a very good movie. Much of the plot is unbelievable and implausible.
However, I do find that I enjoy watching this from time to time. I seem to enjoy just about anything with Wesley Snipes. I believe he is very underrated. His easygoing, but dedicated cop in this works for me. He works hard, is smart, and seems to be someone you can rely on. He cares deeply for the "brother" who grew up in his house, but he is frustrated in constantly having to bail him out of trouble.
I suppose Woody Harrelson's character is probably the worst thing about this for me. His character is seriously annoying, and it would be hard to believe him surviving as a police officer, with all his personal problems. It's okay to suspend disbelief, but a movie like this should at least have an air of plausibility.
Robert Blake's subway manager is quite a bit over-the-top, but provides a real antagonism for the buddy/brother cops, and establishes himself as the real villain for the plot.
The plan, and the execution of the robbery, (and Snipes character going along with something like this), REALLY stretches plausibility, but there is an easy camaraderie between the 2 actors, and the action is good.
It ain't all that good, but it isn't unwatchable.
Drugstore Cowboy (1989)
Very Good Film
I actually grew up with people like this. Not all, but I knew people like this. People who had nothing, going nowhere, living on ratty beds and couches, with parents who barely noticed, or weren't around. Now on their own, with absolutely no skills or abilities (or desire) to head in any other direction but the pursuit of the next high. Always scheming to get their next stash. Hiding and ducking in their own living room, from imagined threats and paranoic fantasy. Characters who would show up, and act bizarrely, with hangers-on who desperately wanted to be accepted by this aimless bunch. Barely hanging on to any semblance of a "regular life", one half-step away from scrounging in garbage cans.
I never got too close to those people, and ended up joining the service, and never looked back to what happened to them.
Matt Dillon was exceptional, and a decent job by the cast all around. Dillon captured the essence of a smart guy, who knew what a dead-end existence he lived in, but was unwilling or unable to yet break free. Brilliantly directed by Gus Van Zant. He captured this ugly life well.
Less Than Zero (1987)
Very well done
Surprisingly well-done, well acted movie. It can be hard to have any sympathy for these kids, growing up in upper middle class circumstances, with too much money on their hands. But, putting that aside, the movie becomes a sad, heartbreaking tale of destructive drug use, and troubled, starved kids in an affluent lifestyle.
The actors are all surprisingly effective, especially Robert Downey. His performance is remarkable but, unfortunately, would become a showpiece of a path he was personally very familiar with.
James Spader nearly steals the movie with his performance as "Rip', a cruel, icy, menacing drug dealer to rich, bored kids.
I admit to being stunned by the ending. I half expected some kind of happy, hopeful ending, and was emotionally effected by the sudden, tragic ending.
A movie that pulls you in; a very good job.