Skip’s Quips: What Happened to ‘The Angriest Man in Brooklyn’?

Blog Sketch 082813Most movies that start viewers off with narration bother me.

The Angriest Man in Brooklyn is no exception, and I had to turn it off last night before getting past the first half hour or so.

Narration is a crutch frequently used, it seems, to offset the fact that a story somehow isn’t told traditionally through the action onscreen. The problem is, it usually winds up being tiresome and suspense-killing, which you don’t want in a movie. That’s what happened in TAMiB.

But what really happened there? A lot of talent was wasted in this film – including Robin Williams, Peter Dinklage and Mila Kunis – which had something to do with a very peeved lawyer (played by Williams) being told erroneously that he has 90 minutes to live. Oh, goody, that plot device. No wonder I couldn’t watch the picture.

The script was a mess, to say the least. It was hard to say what it was going for: a comedy or a drama. Or perhaps both. It didn’t matter; I lost interest. And I don’t expect to resume watching it soon.

If only there wasn’t any narration. Maybe things would’ve been a little better.

Maybe.

Setter’s ‘Spectives: Bad Puns and ‘Good Will Hunting’

Setter Drawing for Blog 082613I have five things to say about Good Will Hunting, which I just saw for the first time a couple of days ago.

I. Did. Not. Like. It.

Part of me knew this would happen. The bad pun in the title gave my future cinema verdict away. I couldn’t appreciate something that didn’t take itself seriously enough to give itself a sharper moniker.

But there were other problems that rubbed me the wrong way. A script that was both sappy and abrasive. An unlikable lead performance. Schmaltzy music. And a plodding pace. All of which undermined several good performances, notably by Robin Williams as a therapist helping the title character.

Direction was also problematic. The film moved so slowly it was unbearable. I’m not a big fan of Gus Van Sant’s other films, including the dreadful To Die For and the frustrating Elephant. GWH is just another movie in his canon that I don’t care for.

I realize GWH is very popular. Once again, I’m in the minority on this. I don’t know why, though. To me, it just didn’t work.

Skip’s Quips: Spreading the Love for Gilliam’s ‘Munchausen’

Blog Sketch 082813I’m still sad about the fact that Terry Gilliam’s The Adventures of Baron Munchausen flopped when it debuted about 25 years ago.

I’m sadder, however, that it seems to be overlooked when people talk about overlooked classics. They might mention Gilliam’s other great film, Time Bandits, but Munchausen? Pshaw! That one flies under the radar of the everything else flying under the radar.

It’s too bad, too, because Munchausen is a terrific movie. There’s hilarious, Monty Pythonesque comedy. Rollicking adventure. Fine (for the most part) acting. A lovely score. And gorgeous art direction, exemplified by a brilliant set piece involving Robin Williams as a truly loony King of the Moon whose head detaches from his body in search of metaphysical pleasures.

That’s wild stuff. And I love it. If you like Time Bandits (which I do as well) and haven’t seen Munchausen, I encourage you to do so. It’s hardly shown on TV for some reason, but it shouldn’t be too hard to find. Plus, you can play “Spot the Famous Actor/Actress” while watching it, so that should provide added value. Enjoy.

Skip’s Quips: Top (or Perhaps Bottom) 10 Worst Miscastings in Cinema

Blog Sketch 082813Yes, I’ve been thinking of this. There certainly has been a host of miscasting throughout the years in the movies. Yet none so much, to my mind, as the ones that follow. Here they are in descending order of badness; take a look and see if you agree.

10) Robin Williams as Peter Pan in Hook: A dreadful performance by the usually hilarious Williams as the now-grown-up Pan in a horrid reimagining of the classic tale. This is one that belongs in Neverland.

9) Anthony Hopkins as Richard Nixon in Nixon: Mr. Hopkins can do almost anything, but Tricky Dick was beyond his ken. Then again, it wasn’t completely his fault; a more tiresome, overblown film you’ll hardly find.

8) Meryl Streep as Julia Child in Julie & Julia: Just put on a bizarre accent and roll, right? Isn’t that the way to portray the seminal TV chef? Nope. It sure seemed like that was the plan in this awful film, which plodded its way to the ending like one staggers through an Escoffier-planned meal. Let the diner beware.

7) Charlton Heston as Moses in The Ten Commandments: I never bought this one, despite its relegation to “classic” status. Not in my tablets. One has to wonder if Moses’ jaw was really that square. Surely his acting wasn’t.

6) Mel Gibson as Hamlet in Hamlet: At one time, I tried to convince myself that Gibson’s performance as the titular Shakespearean hero was interesting. Ah, those were the (naive) days. Really, it was a mannered, tedious portrayal in an otherwise decent film. Why, Franco Zeffirelli, why?

5) Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter in Alice in Wonderland: Stop the insanity! I’m not sure if this backstory-driven reimagining of the Lewis Carroll book was director Tim Burton’s idea or not, but it didn’t work. Especially dreary was Depp’s misguided portrayal of said Hatter as a tragic figure. Repeat after me: Aargh! This was not frabjous casting.

4) Tony Curtis as the Viking Eric in The Vikings: A Viking by way of the Bronx. Can you say: “Riiiiiggghht.” Sorry, Tony, we love you, but not in this.

3) Nicol Williamson as Merlin in Excalibur: What a wrong, strange performance this is. Excalibur‘s an otherwise intriguing film, but I’ve always been puzzled by Williamson’s peculiar, sometimes–quiet-sometimes-loud-and-always-bizarre acting decisions as the legendary wizard. Odd and unconvincing portrayal.

2) Elizabeth Taylor as Cleopatra in, what else, Cleopatra: Do you have a hard time getting through this picture? Don’t worry; everyone does. Central to this issue is Taylor’s performance. Ah, the grandeur that was Hollywood.

1) John Wayne as Genghis Khan in The Conqueror: Need I say more?