Archive for the ‘Tommy Lee Jones’ Category

MOVIE: Men in Black 3 (2012)

January 4, 2013

mib3[Another 2012 review!  About 7 more still to come this week!  This is a very exclamatory update!]

So, MIB3, the plot:  a really gross alien dude comes back to Earth and decides to go back in time to try to kill Agent K (Tommy Lee Jones), Agent J (Will Smith) goes back in time himself to stop the alien and save Agent K, and then there’s a really ridiculous scene involving the need to climb up to the top of Apollo 11 and stick a MacGuffin on it (because, yeah, that’ll be no problem, what with the lack of people paying attention to the MOON LAUNCH), followed by a touching moment involving the history of Agents J and K.  WHICH, was actually sort of ridiculous as well (“Hey, my dad’s dead over there in the sand, but you seem nice, so let’s go for a walk on the beach!”), but it was also kind of sweet so whatever, I’ll let it go.

And that thar up there is pretty much all there is to say about this film.  I really enjoyed both the first and the second Men in Black films, and this one was just kind of. . . doot dee doo yawnface.  I laughed maybe twice, chuckled about as many times, and tried not to doze off in the middle.  A bit disappointing.

That said, there’s a reason why critics kept raving about Josh Brolin’s Tommy Lee Jones impersonation (he plays the young Agent K) and that reason is that it is SPOT-ON PERFECTION.  Brolin makes this movie worth a rental, and I always enjoy both Will Smith and TLJ (obviously, since both are former BotWs), too.  The problem was, I kept picturing the meeting in which this film’s storyline was thought up, and I have a feeling that meeting went like this:

Writer:  Have you guys seen Josh Brolin?  Don’t you think he’d make a really great younger version of Tommy Lee Jones?

Director:  Yes!  He’d be fantastic!  But HOW?

Writer:  Let’s see, what has Tommy been in that made a shit-ton of money?

Producer:  Hmmm, well, Men in Black leaps right to mind.

Writer:  PERFECT! Only we’ll need a plot — it can’t just be a movie about Josh Brolin doing a really good  impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones, after all.

Director:  Why the hell not?  What’re you, new or something?

Writer: Ha ha, you’re right!  I don’t know what I was thinking.  [scribbles on napkins for about 20 minutes]  HERE!  DONE!

Producer:  It’s perfect!  Good job, kid!  Here’s a bazillion dollars!

So, you know.   Four bucks (rental fee) is a reasonable amount to pay for a 90-minute Josh Brolin impersonation of Tommy Lee Jones, I say.   And heck, it could’ve been worse, after all:  it could’ve been Prometheus!  (My review of that, by the way, is coming soon!)

[Netflix it | Buy it]

Genre:  Science Fiction, Comedy
Cast:  Will Smith, Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Jemaine Clement, Emma Thompson, Michael Stuhlbarg, Mike Colter

MOVIE: The Eyes of Laura Mars (1978)

November 7, 2009

lauramarsIn my continued quest to see all the movies John Carpenter has ever written or directed (see my recent review of Someone’s Watching Me for more on the plan), I picked this one up recently and plopped it into the machine this afternoon.  Rainy days are great for scary movies, and I was hoping this one would fill that role nicely.

And it did, sort of.  That is, this is not really a “scary movie” so much as it’s a psychological thriller.  But, as with Someone’s Watching Me, it’s pretty effective at what it’s trying to do, which is put you on the edge of your seat.  Plus,  it’s got a lot of really cool camera effects, some seriously fun 70’s hair and clothes, and, added bonus!  A REALLY young Tommy Lee Jones.  Complete with dashing 70’s (pre-“Manscaping”) unibrow action!  Mrrrowl!

Laura Mars (an also very-young Faye Dunaway) is a rich-and-famous photographer, whose photos are both compelling and extremely controversial.  Her subjects tend to be scantily clad young women posed in horrifying scenes of violence:  being beaten, being attacked by animals, looking like they’re dead, stuff like that.  Some of her critics say she’s glorifying violence against women, death, and even murder.  But Mars contends her aim is actually the opposite: to make people stop thinking of violence as anything worthy of “glory” to begin with.

For some reason, and I wasn’t clear on just why (though it’s probably better not to ask, I suppose), Laura suddenly starts getting psychic visions.  It begins with the vision of a young woman being viciously murdered, one of her models.  At first, she doesn’t trust what she’s seeing and assumes it was a hallucination of some kind.  But when it happens again — again she sees a murder through what appear to be the eyes of the killer himself — she goes to the police.  Detective John Neville (Jones and his brow) is assigned to her case and initially believes her to be a complete crackpot.  But when the serial killer continues, knocking off people progressively closer and closer to Mars herself, Mars continues to witness every single attack while it is taking place.  She has details she clearly could only have gotten one of two ways:  she’s either the murderer herself, or she’s having the psychic visions she says she’s having.

Eventually, Neville starts to believe her, and the two become close (and then fall in love) while they struggle to find the killer and stop him before he gets to Laura herself.  Now, the ending of this film had a twist I confess I found pretty hokey, in part because I’ve seen that same twist done at least a half-dozen times over the years and so I saw it coming and wasn’t too pleased when it actually arrived.   But I would imagine that in 1978, it was a fairly startling surprise to most movie-goers.  And the thing is, it was filmed with grace and acted well by both Dunaway and Jones, which went a long way towards making it swallow-able for me.

In fact, there are a lot of scenes in this movie that I felt were both filmed and acted beautifully.  The scene in which Laura and John first become intimate, for example, I found extremely moving and absolutely gorgeous.  Wonderful angles, lots of authentic tenderness for each other, etc.  The only problem was that it went on about five minutes too long, as did several semi-sluggish scenes in the middle of the film.   However, when the movie is “on,” it’s extremely suspenseful and entertaining.  A lot of it may feel somewhat cheesy to modern viewers, as would a lot of the scenes and acting in Someone’s Watching Me, I’m sure.  But, overall, I thought this was a very satisfying psychological thriller.  And dazam if Tommy Lee Jones wasn’t just sexy as hell in 1978.  Hottie McYummerson.

Definitely recommended, especially for viewers who like thrillers that aren’t crazy with the gory violence.  The murders are pretty tame compared to what we’re used to seeing these days.  And the best part?  You can actually watch this movie for free online — legally!  The full movie is available on the IMDb page (via a link to Crackle.com), and it’s also available for streaming on Watch Now for Netflix subscribers.  If you are in the mood for a good thriller this weekend, look no further!  (And then come back here and let me know what you thought!)

[Netflix me | Watch me online | Buy me]

Genre:  Thriller
Cast:  Faye Dunaway, Tommy Lee Jones, Brad Dourif, Rene Auberjonois, Raul Julia

MOVIE: No Country for Old Men (2007)

March 26, 2008

This past weekend, I saw two movies that featured similarly disturbing and emotionless violence (and then, thankfully, I watched Scarecrows, which provided some much needed comic relief).  This was the second one — I’m still attempting to process the first mentally before I try to write about it (gimmie one more day. . .).

This brilliantly-paced and beautifully-filmed movie, the latest by the Coen Brothers, is about a bunch of bad guys in the desert chasing each other over a bunch of stolen drug money.  Well, that’s the short version, anyway. 

Here’s the long version:  Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin, who really needs to do a romantic comedy next, if you ask me) is out hunting one afternoon when he comes across a peculiar sight — a group of about five pick-up trucks parked in a scattered circle on the valley below him.  He decides to head down to check it out, and our first inkling that he’s no ordinary guy comes when he gets closer to the scene, sees that it’s riddled with dead bodies, and doesn’t even bat an eyelash.   Perhaps he’s a man who’s seen this sort of thing before?  Methinks he is.

After poking around a bit, he finds A) a man who is still alive and begging for water; and B) a flatbed full of heroin.  A few minutes later, he also finds two million dollars in cash inside a suitcase next to another dead guy.  He takes the cash and heads home, and our first inkling that maybe he’s not ALL bastard comes when later in the evening, he’s apparently touched by a sense of guilt about leaving the thirsty near-death guy behind without helping him, and he fills a jug with water and heads back.   Knowing full well how thoroughly dumb (in other words, dangerous) that decision was.

While all this is going on, another story has begun to run on a parallel track.  This one features a quiet man with a VERY silly haircut named Anton Chigurh (Javier Bardem) who carries around a tank of compressed air with a cattle stun gun attached to it.  When people get in his way, he puts the gun up to their head and pulls the trigger, releasing a blast of air that shots a metal rod into their skulls and then pulls it back out again.  PfftPOW!  The first murder of this nature made me gasp out loud, I will confess — damned if I’ve never seen anything quite like that before.  But eventually, we get used to it, as the bodies slowly start to pile up.  It soon becomes clear this quiet man is a hired killer out to get that money back from Moss, and he has absolutely no intention whatsoever of doing anything besides just that. 

The bulk of this movie involves Moss scurrying from one hotel room to the next trying to elude Chigurh, while Sheriff Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) follows closely on both their heels (although, alas for the many victims of Chigurh, not closely enough).   One of the things that struck me about these chase scenes was the speed with which Moss would run and the emotionless, steady plod of Chigurh behind him.  My first thought was, naturally, of Jamie Lee Curtis vs. Michael Myers in Halloween — she runs, he plods, and yet he always, ALWAYS catches up.  Is there anything more terrifying than a killer who isn’t in a hurry?  Who is so confident he’ll eventually take care of you that he’s perfectly content to move at a comfortable pace?

Actually, yes, there is.  Because, as with the other movie I saw this weekend that I haven’t reviewed yet, the truly terrifying thing about Chigurh isn’t really his confidence in getting the job done — it’s our complete inability to comprehend him as a “normal” human being in any way whatsoever.  He’s not even “evil,” really — that implies some sort of passion for doing wrong.  He’s just. . . nothing.  He’s nothing at all.  Noth. ing.

Various of his victims attempt to reason with him, some quite legitimately, and the most generous option he’s able to offer them is to determine their own fate based on the flip of a coin.  And it’s not because he enjoys tormenting them, as offering someone that option would surely do.  He hasn’t chosen the coin flip based on its arbitrary, and thus even more terrifying, nature.  It’s just because, well, that’s kind of all he could come up with.  He said he’d kill them, and he can’t just not do it — why would he?  And so the only option he can give them is fate.  Which, even at a rate of 50/50, isn’t much of a comfort when you’re sitting across from a dude with a tank of compressed air and a disarmingly stoic expression.

I gots chills.

The other night, I asked my husband if he’d finished watching the movie yet so I could send it back to Netflix, and we got to talking about it.  When I said I’d really liked it, he grimaced and muttered, “What the hell’s the point of a movie like that?”  What’s the point of a movie, in other words, in which nothing goes right for anybody?  It’s a question I’d already been asking myself after seeing that Other Movie over the weekend, and while I can answer it for that one (much as I resist the answer — more on that in the next review), I’m not sure I’ve come up with anything much for this one. 

In some ways, it almost seems like it’s a movie about the futility of human emotions when put up against someone or something or some entity that has no real sense of justice.  Maybe it’s a commentary on the gradual loss of social morals — we’ve stopped saying “Sir” and “Ma’am,” according to Sheriff Bell, and so maybe this is where we should expect to find ourselves.  Except, at the same time, it seemed to be about people who made choices based on what seemed to them to be a total lack of choice.  And how can we be held responsible for choosing the only option we were aware we had in a given situation?

Ultimately, however, while I can’t tell you WHY, I can tell you this movie really impressed me.  It’s beautifully, expertly made and the acting — whew.  Honestly, there’s just no one better than Tommy Lee Jones when it comes to playing a world-weary cop — I love that man.  And Josh Brolin and Javier Bardem are also extremely effective in their parts.  Actually, until I saw him in Planet Terror a year or so ago (where he also plays a mustachiod tough guy, hence my desire to see him change things up with a rom-com next), I hadn’t really seen Josh Brolin since Goonies, I don’t think.  The man’s totally blowing my mind.  Make him stop.

In any case, I definitely suspect this one will make it on my list of Top Ten Movies Seen in 2008, and I’m also planning on picking up the novel as soon as possible to see whether I enjoy it any more or less than the movie.   Incidentally, if you rent this on DVD, don’t miss the “making of” special feature, in which Tommy Lee Jones attempts to classify No Country for Old Men as a “comedy.”  Snort.

[Netflix me | Buy me]

Genre:  Drama
Cast:  Josh Brolin, Tommy Lee Jones, Javier Bardem, Woody Harrelson, Kelly Macdonald, Barry Corbin, Beth Grant

Brad Renfro Dead at Age 25

January 16, 2008

I was shocked to find out this morning that Brad Renfro is dead.  He was found dead yesterday of “unknown” causes, but I think most of us who follow movies know enough about him to suspect drugs may have had a big role in it.   Brad had been struggling with alcohol and drug addiction for years and had even served ten days in jail several years ago (I want to say 2005?) after driving under the influence and attempting to buy heroin from an undercover cop.  So, maybe I shouldn’t have been so shocked to see the headline this morning.   But still.   He was 25 years old, and I’m always shocked when kids die.

I think we all recognized he was a talented actor — his first movie, The Client, co-starring Tommy Lee Jones and Susan Sarandon, really impressed both fans and critics and established him instantly as an up-and-comer in the film world.  And he’d made some good movies after that as well (Sleepers, Bully, and Ghost World being three that immediately leap to mind).

Anyway, I’m shocked.  I think I said that already.  And I’m bummed.  And I’m sorry for his friends and family.  And for his fans too.   And for the loss of another talented actor who probably got too famous too fast.   And that’s all for now.