Archives for posts with tag: John Goodman

Grade B

Set in 1973, a “monster hunter” played by John Goodman scams the U.S. Government into funding an expedition into an island to supposedly look for valuable resources; but what Goodman really seeks is validation into his theory that monsters live within the earth, and at some point they will all come out and eat us like chicken nuggets.  With a tracker (played by Tom Hiddleston) by his side and a unit of the Army’s Assault Helicopter Company led by Samuel L. Jackson as an escort, Goodman and his fellow scientists begin their exploration of the island in a violent way…and they are all met with violence by the island’s largest and most fearsome monster, King Kong.

Their helicopters destroyed, the human survivors have a small chance of escaping the island and getting back to their ship.  But Kong and the island monsters aren’t the only ones the humans must fear.  Jackson, in his quest to avenge his men who were killed by Kong, turns into Capt. Ahab and risks everything and everyone to exact his pound of gorilla flesh.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Kong: Skull Island” is the scene when King Kong fights the big, underground lizard thing.   King monster against king monster; and a monsterfest is what this movie is all about.

“Kong: Skull Island” suffers from numerous shenanigans, such as Vietnam veteran helicopter pilots staying too close to Kong, with the result of being swatted and crushed by the giant ape.   Then there’s Hiddleston’s character who never loses his cool no matter how many giant, ugly creatures are trying to eat him — I’ve seen people show more emotion while playing video games.  Enough of the negatives.  What this movie has going for it are: 1) a fast paced, dynamic direction by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, giving this flick a tremendous amount of fun energy; and 2) monsters, monsters, and more monsters.  I’ve been a fan of Japanese monster movies from the 1950s/1960s…they are silly, and generally make no sense; but they are fun to watch.  Well, “Kong: Skull Island” is like that.

— M

B+

A sci-fi/suspense/thriller that has so many twists and turns, it’ll keep you guessing at the truth all the way to the end.

Mary Elizabeth Winstead plays a woman who wakes up after a car accident only to find herself chained and cuffed to a pipe in a sparse room.  Her captor, creepily played by John Goodman, tells her that there was some kind of attack against the U.S., possibly by Russians, maybe terrorists, maybe Martians.  The air supposedly has been poisoned, and they would need to stay in his doomsday bunker for maybe a year or two for the poisons to dissipate.

Not being a moron, Winstead doubts what she is being told, and her face shows that she thinks she’s going to be a sex slave to this crazed, fat man, or worse, maybe she’s going to be in some type of “Saw” situation.  But then she meets another man — played by John Gallagher Jr. — who is also in the bunker.  Gallagher confirms to Winstead that he saw some type of flash in the air, and then he rushed to Goodman’s bunker and fought his way in so that he could survive.  But Winstead still has her doubts.  She has no idea who these two country boys are, and Goodman’s disturbing behavior — such as flipping out over the slightest thing — makes Winstead even more guarded.

Was there an attack that wiped out a good chunk of the U.S. and left the air poisoned?  Is Goodman lying so he can have a pretty woman stay in his bunker with his fat, creepy self?  Is Gallagher lying also, and possibly partners with Goodman to keep Winstead from leaving the bunker?

One thing Winstead will be sure of as time goes by: the threat inside the bunker is as dangerous as the real or imaginary threat outside.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the scene when Winstead and Gallagher look at a photo of a girl who is supposed to be Goodman’s daughter.  I’ll leave it at that.

My most memorable, movie moment of “10 Cloverfield Lane” is the scene at the end when Winstead sees absolute proof of what is really going on.  Again, I’ll leave it at that.

“10 Cloverfield Lane” is a much better movie than I had hoped for.  It has a heroine who is not your typical, damsel in distress — Winstead’s character is mentally tough and very resourceful.  The movie is unpredictable, the tension remains high for the majority of the story, and the acting is top notch.

Yes, Maximus, I was surprised to be so entertained by this movie.

— M

Well, this is a strange, little movie.  “Mother Night” stars Nick Nolte as an American living in pre-WWII Germany who gets recruited by the OSS (the predecessor of the CIA) via an agent played by John Goodman.  Goodman tells Nolte that Americans need him to be a spy for the Americans; and that Nolte would be a perfect secret agent because he is so entrenched in the German culture and high society that he would be in a position to hear important information from Germany’s movers and shakers.  Oh, Goodman also tells Nolte that the American government would never acknowledge his recruitment to be a spy no matter what, nor would it help him if he should ever get caught.  Wow, what a deal!

Surprisingly, Nolte accepts.  Why?  For the challenge.  Nolte is a playwright, you see, and he sees this as the greatest role he can ever play, written for him by him.  And so, Nolte becomes a famous voice on Nazi radio, extolling the virtues of the Aryan race and Hitler, and fueling the hatred for Jews and other unwanted groups.  But his radio broadcasts secretly contain codes that feed Americans with secrets about the German war machine, and no one is the wiser…except for one person.

Fast forward many years later after the war, and Nolte is an old man living in NYC.  He is also labeled as a war criminal.  Thinking that no one cares anymore (he has been in the U.S. for many years and no one has taken notice of who he is), Nolte discards his alias and uses his real name.  Yes, I know, that was puzzling.  As you may have guessed, eventually a few people start to notice his famous name and easily recognizable voice.  That’s very bad if the Mossad is out to kidnap you and bring you to Israel to be tried and possibly killed.

“Mother Night” is a bit schizophrenic because the first half of the movie is a straightforward drama/suspense/thriller story; and then we have the surreal last half which crosses into the comedic territory many times.   As an example of the bizarre world that we enter in the final half of “Mother Night,” we see a black man dressed in a Nazi uniform who visits Nolte.   I thought it was a dream sequence, but it was not.  The black, Nazi dude was exactly as he was portrayed.  This was one of my memorable moments of this movie.

At the top of my memorable, movie moments of “Mother Night” is the scene when Nolte watches his younger self on a projector screen, dressed as a German soldier and spewing all manner of venom against Jews.  Nolte is stunned at how well he plays his role; and I think it is at this point that he accepts his guilt in the mass murder of millions of Jews.  As the movie states: we become what we pretend to be.

“Mother Night” could have been a much better movie if it wasn’t for the weird, second half.   Despite this, I still recommend this movie to be watched once.

One last thing…a bit of trivia: the director of “Mother Night” is Keith Gordon, the actor who played the teenaged owner of Christine in “Christine.”

— M

 

Mark Wahlberg plays the title role in “The Gambler,” and his character is probably one of the most self-destructive that I’ve seen in movie history.  Wahlberg has a knack for winning early in whatever games he plays (usually blackjack or roulette), but he just doesn’t know when to quit; and that is what leads to his ever increasing problems, the biggest being Wahlberg owing large amounts to 3 different gangsters.  His solution to his problems?  Borrow more money from the same gangsters and hope to win his way out of the deep hole he put himself in.

I believe most viewers will not like Wahlberg’s character, as he is abrasive and puts the lives of those who care for him (his mother (Jessica Lange) and sometime girlfriend (Brie Larson)) in jeopardy because of his addiction.  But those who have ever had a monkey on their back will be more forgiving, as they know firsthand how destructive and hard to kick an addiction is.

However you size up Wahlberg, he will not bore you.  It’s like watching a runaway train that is doomed for a devastating wreck at some point.  Although “The Gambler” isn’t an action movie, it had my heart pumping like it was.  Scenes that had Wahlberg betting thousands of dollars — and in some cases, hundreds of thousands — had me feeling like I was there and I was the one making those huge, dangerous bets.  Oh, that excitement of either winning large or losing large, that’s one of the addictive qualities of gambling.

One of my memorable moments of this movie is the first gambling scene.  Wahlberg comes in with ten thousand dollars, and bets it all on one hand of blackjack.  He wins, and lets it all ride on the next hand.  Win, repeat.  Cool as can be, as if he’s betting ten dollars.  Of course, no lucky streak lasts forever.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Gambler” is the scene when Wahlberg reveals to Larson that if he can’t have it all, he’d rather die.  To be or not to be; all or nothing.  Of course, there is more to his behavior than what Wahlberg states.  He’s a degenerate gambler, therefore, even if he gets everything that he wants and needs, he still has that desire to gamble.  And how long before he loses it all and is right back where he started?

For those still struggling with their gambling habit: the only way to win at gambling is to not gamble at all.  Yes, I know, easier said than done.  Despite all the science out there about gamblers having different brain reactions to gambling; and gambling addiction is a disease…bottom line, we all have a choice.

— M

Six Americans escape capture by Iranian thugs who invade the U.S. embassy in Iran.  Hiding out in the home of the Canadian Ambassador, The Six endure many days of fear and uncertainty as they wait for plans for their rescue.  Time is running out, because the Iranians are putting together shredded documents from the U.S. embassy in order to find out the identities of The Six.  The U.S. government, with the help of the Canadian government, implement an audacious plan to send a CIA agent (played by Ben Affleck) to Iran under the cover of being a producer of an upcoming movie called “Argo.”  Affleck is to go in pretending to scout locations for “Argo,” and meet with The Six to give them new identities as his Canadian film crew; and when the scoutings are done, Affleck and The Six will all take a flight out of Iran.

Sounds too outlandish to be true?   Well, it is true.  This really happened.

“Argo” is another good movie that Affleck has directed, showing us that the man has talents not only in acting and screenwriting, but also in directing.  “Argo” opens fast, and moves along at a quick pace that will keep your heart pumping beyond its normal rate for most of the movie.  And it is the pacing that stands out in this movie; and pacing is mostly due to direction and editing, so Affleck deserves a good amount of credit for that.

One of my most memorable movie moments of “Argo” is the scene when Affleck is wondering if one of The Six can be taught to be a director in a day.  John Goodman tells Affleck that he can teach a monkey to be a director in a day.  Ha ha!  Well, to be fair, yes, you can teach anyone to be a director in a day; but to be a good director?   That’s another thing.   Anyway, I like that little dig Affleck put in about directors.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Argo” is the opening sequence, when the front gate of the U.S. embassy in Iran is surrounded by a mob of angry Iranians.  The gate is soon breached, and the Iranian mob stream in.   U.S. soldiers — outnumbered and without hope of help coming — are told by their Commanding Officer not to kill any Iranian, or else the Iranians will kill everyone in the embassy.  The soldiers are to hold off the mob without using deadly force for as long as possible so that the U.S. embassy has time to shred important documents.  This sequence is terrifying.  I started watching “Argo” late at night when I was sleepy, and after a couple of minutes I was fully awake.  Some movies grab your attention.  The opening of “Argo” grabs you by the throat.

Fans of espionage movies shouldn’t miss this movie.  So, put the “Argo” disc in your player, sit back and feel your blood pressure rise.

M

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