Showing posts with label Salma Hayek. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Salma Hayek. Show all posts

Sunday, April 16, 2023

Review: "PUSS IN BOOTS: The Last Wish" is a Delightful Surprise

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 17 of 2023 (No. 1906) by Leroy Douresseaux

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish (2022)
Running time:  102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPA – PG for action/violence, rude humor/language, and some scary moments
DIRECTOR:  Joel Crawford with Januel Mercado
WRITERS:  Paul Fisher and Tommy Swerdlow; from a story by Tom Wheeler and Tommy Swerdlow
PRODUCER:  Mark Swift
EDITOR:  James Ryan
COMPOSER:  Heitor Pereira
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/FANTASY/ADVENTURE/COMEDY

Starring:  (voices) Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Harvey Guillén, Florence Pugh, Olivia Coleman, Ray Winstone, Samson Kayo, John Mulaney, Wagner Moura, Da'Vine Joy Randolph, Kevin McCann, Anthony Mendez, and Bernardo De Paula

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is a 2022 computer-animated fantasy-adventure film directed by Joel Crawford and produced by DreamWorks Animation.  The film is a sequel to Puss in Boots (2011) and is also the sixth installment in the Shrek film franchise.  The Last Wish focuses on Puss in Boots' epic journey to gain the wish that will restore the eight of his nine lives that he has lost.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish opens in the town of Del Mar.  There, the renowned hero and outlaw, Puss in Boots (Antionio Banderas), hosts a party and later, saves the town from a giant.  After being injured during his battle with a giant, Puss sees a local doctor (Anthony Mendez) who informs him that he has used eight of his nine lives.  [I'm assuming that you, dear readers, are familiar with the superstitious belief that cats have nine lives].  The doctor urges Puss to retire from adventuring before he loses his ninth and final life.

Puss refuses to retire, but then, he has an unfortunate encounter with a menacing, bounty-hunting.  Known as Wolf (Wagner Moura), he is garbed in a black robe and hood and wields twin sickles, and he is so fearsome that Puss has to flee.  While on the run, Puss learns of the magical “Wishing Star,” which can grant a single wish to someone bearing the map to its location.  Puss begins his journey to the Star's location, the “Dark Forest.”  Joining him on his journey is Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), the savvy Tuxedo cat he apparently betrayed, and also a small dog that Puss and Kitty call “Perrito” (Harvey Guillén).  But they aren't the only ones looking for the Wishing Star.

I was happy to hear about Puss in Boots: The Last Wish.  When I first saw the original, Puss in Boots, I was surprised that I enjoyed it as much as I did.

Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is like its fellow DreamWorks Animation 2022 stablemate, The Bad Guys.  Both films take inspiration for their production design from Sony Pictures Animation's 2018, Oscar-winning film, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, which mixes both a 3D and a 2D aesthetic in its design.  I think The Last Wish looks closer to Into the Spider-Verse than The Bad Guys does, but neither film electrifies the screen the way the Spider-Man film did.  

Like its predecessor, The Last Wish has a lead character who is part Zorro and part Valentino.  Puss in Boots is a charming rogue, the kind of character that can drive a swashbuckling adventure film to success.  However, The Last Wish requires a character to not only undergo a character arc, but also to evolve.  To that end, Antonio Banderas gives a performance with more humor and pathos than most actors give in live-action roles.  By the time The Last Wish ends, Banderas has me wishing real hard for a third film in this series.

As Kitty Softpaws, Salma Hayek makes the most of her moments.  The character doesn't get the space to roam dramatically that Puss does, but Hayek makes Kitty seem like a character that could carry her own movie.  Actor Harvey Guillén keeps Perrito the dog perfectly cute for this film, because he is just the kind of character that can quickly go from lovable to annoying.

The rest of the characters in Puss in Boots: The Last Wish come across as extraneous.  The “Three Bears Crime Family,” which includes Goldilocks (Florence Pugh), Mama Bear (Olivia Colman), Papa Bear (Ray Winstone), and Baby Bear (Samson Kayo), and also the crime lord, “Big” Jack Horner (John Mulaney), don't feel so important to the story that they could not be replaced with other famous fairy tale characters.  They aren't bad characters, but they seem to exist in The Last Wish for no other reason than to be part of this film's big action set pieces.  But Wagner Moura is awesome as the magnificent “Wolf.”  The film could have used more of him and less of the other “criminals.”

Still, Antonio Banderas once again makes Puss in Boots an animated character worthy of headlining his own films.  Hopefully, Puss in Boots: The Last Wish is not the last Puss in Boots film.

7 of 10
A-
★★★½ out of 4 stars

Sunday, April 16, 2023


NOTES:
2023 Academy Awards, USA:  1nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film” (Joel Crawford and Mark Swift)

2023 BAFTA Awards:  1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film” (Joel Crawford and Mark Swift)

2023 Golden Globes, USA:  1 nomination: “Best Motion Picture – Animated”

2023 Image Awards (NAACP):  1 nomination: “Outstanding Animated Motion Picture”


The text is copyright © 2023 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for reprint and syndication rights and fees.

---------------------------





---------------------------

Amazon wants me to inform you that the affiliate link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the affiliate link below AND buy something(s).


Saturday, April 16, 2022

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from April 10th to 16th, 2022 - Update #26

by Leroy Douresseaux a.k.a. "I Reads You"

You can support Leroy via Paypal or on Patreon:

ENTERTAINMENT AND CULTURE NEWS:

STREAMING - From DeadlineTom Hanks and Gary Goetzman's production company, Playtone, has signed a multiyear development deal with Apple TV+.  The deal includes a sequel to Tom Hanks' 2020 World War II thriller, "Greyhound."

MOVIES - From NBC:  In the wake of multiple controversies, is the "Fantastic Beasts" franchise still magical, as the third installment, "Fantastic Beasts: The Secrets of Dumbledore."

MOVIES - From VarietyWarner Bros. Discovery is planning an overhaul of DC Entertainment and they want "creative and strategic czar" similar to Kevin Feige at Marvel Studios.

MOVIES - From THR:  In a wide-ranging interview, Mads Mikkelsen, talks about the new "Fantastic Beasts" movie and replacing Johnny Depp and a little about "Indiana Jones 5."

STREAMING - From VarietySalma Hayek will replace Thandiwe Newton in HBO Max's "Magic Mike's Last Dance." Newton is reportedly stepping away in order to "deal with family issues."

FROM TheSun:  The UK newspaper "The Sun" is saying that Thandie/Thandiwe Newton is gone from "Magic Mike's Last Dance" because she got in a terrible "row" with producer/star Channing Tatum over the Will Smith/Chris Rock Oscars slap.
-------------------

CANNES - From Variety:  A completely unexpected David Lynch film will appear at 75th Cannes Film Festival (May 17th to 28th).  David Cronenberg's new film, "Crimes of the Future" will also screen at the festival.

From DeadlineDavid Lynch says that he does not have a film for Cannes 2022, although he seems evasive as to whether he is currently working on a film.

DEPP V. HEARD - From LATimes:  The lawsuit explained:  Johnny Depp (58) is suing his ex-wife, Amber Heard (35), over a 2018 Washington Post piece she wrote that Depp believes falsely portrayed him as a domestic abuser.  Heard is counter-suing Depp accusing his lawyers of defaming her.

From Deadline:  Oscar-nominee Johnny Depp's 50 million dollar defamation law suit against his ex-wife, Amber Heard, has begun in Fairfax County Circuit Court, Virginia.

From PerezHiltonAmber Heard lawyer says that Heard's ex, the Oscar-nominated actor, Johnny Depp, held her hostage in Australia for three days. This is one of many claims made in Depp's defamation law suit that has gone from 50 million dollars to 100 million.

From Deadline:  James Franco, "WandaVision" star Paul Bettany, Elon Musk, and representatives of the Walt Disney Company, Warner Bros, and the LAPD could end up in the court in Johnny Depp's defamation case against his former wife, Amber Heard.

From WeGotThisCoveredJohnny Depp versus Amber Heard is in its first day and already there are allegations of sexual assualt.
------------------------------------

MOVIES - From DeadlineWill Ferrell is the latest to join director Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" film for Warner Bros. and Mattel. Margot Robbie (Barbie) and Ryan Gosling (Ken) are the film's stars.

MOVIES - From THRAyo Edebiri and former Super Bowl champion, Marshawn Lynch (Seattle Seahawks), have joined the Orion Pictures high school sex comedy, "Bottoms."

DISNEY+ - From THRWalker Scobell will take the role of "Percy Jackson" in the Disney+ series, "Percy Jackson and the Olympians."

BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficePro:  The winner of the 4/8 to 4/10/2022 weekend box office is "Sonic The Hedgehog 2" with an estimated take of 71 million dollars.

From CNN:  "Sonic the Hedgehog 2's" 71-million dollar opening is the largest ever for a video game film adaptation at the North American box office.

MOVIES - From BleedingCool:  "Fast Saga" star Vin Diesel says that Marvel Cinematic Universe star, Brie Larson, has joined "Fast & Furious 10,"which is due in theaters, May 19, 2023.

MOVIES - From TheGate:  In an interview about the iconic film, "The Godfather," which is celebrating its 50th anniversary, actor Robert Duvall says that he thinks Christian Bale has been cast in Francis Ford Coppola's upcoming film, "Megalopolis."

DWAYNE HASKINS:

From USATodayDwayne Haskins, an NFL quarterback with the Pittsburgh Steelers, died after he was struck by a dump truck on Saturday morning, April 9th.  Haskins was 24 and would have made 25 in early May.

From SteelerWire:  Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool shares an emotional moment over the passing of his teammate, Dwayne Haskins.

From TheWrap:  Former NFL executive Gil Brandt said some really shitty things about Dwayne Haskins after he died. Now, the old bastard is apologizing...

OBITS:

From Variety:  Stand-up comedian, actor, and voice performer, Gilbert Gottfried, has died at the age of 67, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.  Gottfried is best known for his exaggerated loud, screeching, shrill and obnoxious voice.  His best known roles may be that of "Iago" the parrot in Disney's "Aladdin" films and animated television series and of "Degit LeBoid" on the PBS animated series, "Cyberchase."

From NBC:  Comedian Gilbert Gottfried died at the age of 67 of a rare genetic muscle disorder, "type II myotonic dystrophy," that is often overlooked.

From DeadlineGilbert Gottfried's comedy career - a photo gallery.
------

From Deadline:  Veteran television actress, Liz Sheridan, has died at the age of 93, Sunday, April 10, 2022.  Sheridan was best known for her TV work, especially for playing Jerry Seinfeld's mother, "Helen Seinfeld" on the former NBC comedy, "Seinfield."  She was also the nosy neighbor, "Raquel Ochmonek" on the former NBC sitcom, "ALF."

From Deadline:  Actress Kathy Lamkin has died at the age of 74, Monday, April 4, 2022.  She was known for her scene-stealing turns in the Oscar-winning "No Country for Old Men" and the terrible 2003 remake, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre" and its sequel/prequel, "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: The Beginning."

----------------------------

WILL SMITH/CHRIS ROCK/THE SLAP:

From DeadlineThe Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences has banned recent Oscar-winner Will Smith from attending its programs and events - virtually or in-person - including the Academy Awards ceremony for a period of 10 years.  This is his punishment for bitch-slapping Chris Rock during the 94th Academy Awards ceremony, Sun., March 27th.

From Variety:  Actor Harry Lennix comes off the porch to tell Will Smith that he should ... voluntarily give back his recent "Best Actor" Oscar in order to restore the awards honor ... saying this with a straight face.

From TMZ - Celebrities keep weighing in - Grammy Award-nominated rapper and recording artist, Fat Joe, says that Will Smith slapping Chris Rock at the 94th Academy awards "makes minorities look bad."

From Variety:  Netflix has slowed its development of a Will Smith action-thriller, "Fast and Loose," in the wake of the Oscar slap.

From Variety:   Will Smith has announced that he is withdrawing his membership from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS).

From VarietyWill Smith walks onstage at the 94th Academy Awards and slaps Chris Rock in the face for making a joke about his wife, Jada Pinkett Smith.

From Variety:  The Academy has said that Will Smith was asked to leave the 94th Academy Awards ceremony after slapping presenter Chris Rock, but he refused.  The Academy has started disciplinary proceedings against Smith.

From Deadline:  Oscar-winner Will Smith formally apologizes to comedian Chris Rock for slapping him during the 94th Academy Awards show.

From Variety:  Chris Rock says that he is "still kind of processing what happened."

From Variety:   "Harry Potter" star Daniel Radcliffe says that he is "dramatically bored" with hearing people's opinion about "THE SLAP."

From VarietyWill Smith won the "Best Actor" Oscar for portraying the father of tennis stars, Venus and Serena Willaims, Richard Williams, in the biopic, "King Richard."  In regards to Smith slapping Chris Rock onstage during the 94th Academy Awards, Richard says, "We don't condone anyone hitting anyone else."

From Variety:  The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) has confirmed that Chris Rock has declined to file a police report regarding Oscar-winner Will Smith slapping him during the 94th Academy Awards.

From THR:  The actors' union, SAG-AFTRA, calls Will Smith's slap of Chris Rock to be "unacceptable."

From People:  Of the Oscar slap, "Aquaman" Jason Momoa says that he is shocked that Will Smith slapped Chris Rock and that "There's a tipping point for everyone."

From Variety:  Celebrities react to the Oscar bitch slap heard around the world.
-----------------------------

Friday, November 5, 2021

Review: "ETERNALS" is Endlessly Fascinating

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 65 of 2021 (No. 1803) by Leroy Douresseaux

Eternals (2021)
Running time: 157 minutes (2 hours, 37 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for fantasy violence and action, some language and brief sexuality
DIRECTOR: Chloé Zhao
WRITERS:  Chloé Zhao, Chloé Zhao & Patrick Burleigh and Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo; from a screen story by Ryan Firpo & Kaz Firpo (based upon the Marvel Comics by Jack Kirby)
PRODUCERS: Kevin Feige and Nate Moore
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Ben Davis (D.o.P.)
EDITORS:  Dylan Tichenor and Craig Wood
COMPOSER: Ramin Djawadi

SUPERHERO/DRAMA/ACTION

Starring:  Gemma Chan, Richard Madden, Kumail Nanjiani, Barry Keoghan, Lia McHugh, Bryan Tyree Henry, Lauren Ridloff, Don Lee, Harish Patel, Haaz Sleiman, Esai Daniel Cross, and David Kaye (voice) with Salma Hayek, Kit Harringston, and Angelina Jolie

Eternals is a 2021 superhero film directed by Chloé Zhao and produced by Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures.  It is the 26th film in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) series.  The film is based on the Marvel Comics stories and characters created by Jack Kirby and first appearing in the comic book, The Eternals #1 (cover dated: July 1976).  Eternals the movie focuses on a race of immortal beings who have lived on Earth for millennia, protecting and shaping its people.

Eternals begins with the story of the “Celestials,” the great beings that created the universe.  They also created a race of immortals, known as “Eternals,” to do their bidding.  Seven thousand years before the present day (5000 BC), ten of these Eternals arrive on Earth from their home planet, Olympia.  They are Sersi (Gemma Chan), Ikaris (Richard Madden), Kingo (Kumail Nanjiani), Sprite (Lia McHugh), Phastos (Brian Tyree Henry), Makkari (Lauren Ridloff), Druig (Barry Keoghan), Gilgamesh (Don Lee), Thena (Angelina Jolie), and Ajak (Salma Hayek), their leader.  They are human-like and have super-powers.

The most powerful Celestial, Arishem (David Kaye), has sent these Eternals to Earth to protect humanity from monsters known as “Deviants.”  Over several millennia, the Eternals protect humanity from the dangers posed by Deviants, but they are not allowed to interfere in the development of the humans and their civilizations.  In 1500, after believing that they have killed off the last Deviants, the Eternals break apart as a group because they have different opinions on what their responsibility is towards humans going forward.

In the present day, Sersi and Sprite live together in London.  One night, they are attacked by a Deviant, but the powerful Eternal, Ikaris, arrives to drive the creature away.  Sersi, Sprite, and Ikaris decide to reunite their group in order to be prepared for the renewed threat of the Deviants.  However, not all the members are willing to reunite as some have new lives and others hold old grudges.  Meanwhile, dark secrets from their past and about their future hinder the Eternals ability to deal with “The Emergence,” an event that threatens to destroy the world.

Eternals is Marvel Studios most unique film to date.  For all the talk of there being a formula to Marvel's films, Eternals is like nothing else that Marvel has done and like no other superhero film, for that matter.  The costumes, special effects, technology, art direction, and graphic design are key to creating a film that is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but also feels separate from it, in a way.

Eternals co-writer and director Chloé Zhao won two Oscars for her work on the 2020 film, Nomadland, a film filled with characters that are fiercely independent, unique, and contrary.  Eternals is a film about a group of ten people who essentially form a family, but these ten are individually disparate people.  After their mission is complete, the Eternals discover that they have very little in common.  They know enough, however, as they saying goes, to hurt the ones they love.

Zhao deals with the ramifications of being a hero confronted by the question of which is more important in a mission – the orders or doing the right thing.  Zhao reveals that it is not so easy because individuals have differing views on the mission and what it means to “do the right thing.”  Zhao also delves into the complicated nature of a family unit, how the bittersweet can become downright sour when there are secrets and lies and also betrayal.  Eternals is a film about difficult relationships and about the heartache and pain that can come when differences cannot be bridged.

Some may find Eternals too long and boring.  There may not be enough action for fans used to the humongous action set pieces of the Avengers films.  Also, the film's ostensible lead, Gemma Chan's Sersi, is a female superhero that is nuanced in ways not seen in superhero films, especially compared to Marvel heroines like Black Widow, The Wasp, and the Dora Milaje.  Chan creates a Sersi that is beautifully gentle and compassionate, while being vulnerable in a way that makes her a better hero.  Even Angelina Jolie's Thena, an elite warrior, is as vulnerable as she is fierce and violent.

That is not the formula for girl-hero kick-ass and that is fine by me.  I find Eternals endlessly fascinating, and while I watched it, I always wanted more of it.  After all, each Eternal has 7000 years worth of stories to tell, and that's just what happened before they arrived on Earth.  Whether there is another Eternals film or not, Eternals 2021 is important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, simply because it is the kind of entry that will stand out and show that there can be truly different things in that cinematic universe.  Eternals is one of the year's best films.

9 of 10
A+

Friday, November 5, 2021


The text is copyright © 2021 Leroy Douresseaux. All Rights Reserved. Contact this blog or site for syndication rights and fees.

--------------

Amazon wants me to inform you that the link below is a PAID AD, but I technically only get paid (eventually) if you click on the ad below AND buy something(s).


Saturday, December 16, 2017

Negromancer News Bits and Bites from December 10th to 16th, 2017- Update #22

Support Leroy on Patreon.

SCANDAL - From RSN:  Salma Hayek talks about how both Harvey Weinstein and Donald Trump retaliated against her.

----------
TELEVISION - From TheWrap:  ABC's "Roseanne" revival/reboot to debut March 2018 with an hour-long episode.

---------
BUSINESS - From Variety:  Disney to buy 21st Century Fox in a $52.4 all-stock merger.

From BleedingCool:  More on the Disney-Fox deal.

From TheWrap:  Hollywood celebrities have fun with Marvel-Fox merger.

From BleedingCool:  Disney CEO Bob Iger is not against an R-rated Marvel movie, as Fox has done.

----------
MOVIES - From YahooHuffPost:  Even Will Smith is commenting on dopey Roy Moore's election loss in Alabama on Tuesday, Dec. 12th.

----------
MUSIC - From YahooMusic:  Supremely rare vinyl copies of Prince's "Black Album" have been find.

----------
MOVIES - From THR:  Hotter-than-hot Tiffany Haddish and John Cho join Ike Barinholtz in the satirical thriller, "The Oath."

---------
MOVIE-TV-AWARDS - From Variety:  A full list of 2018 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations.

---------
TELEVISION - From Variety:  PBS suspends late-night talk show host, Tavis Smiley over sexual misconduct allegations.  [Sigh. - Leroy]

----------
MOVIES - From Variety:  Jennifer Lawrence joins the film, "Burial Rites," from director Luca Guadagnino, who is out off his film "Call Me By Your Name."

----------
COMICS-FILM - From THR:  Woody Harrelson joins Tom Hardy in Spider-Man spinoff film, "Venom."

----------
TELEVISION - From ShadowandAct:  Michael Che and Colin Jost have been named co-head writers for venerable variety show, "Saturday Night Live."  Che is the first person of color to hold that title on the show.

----------
MOVIES - From Variety:  Jim Broadbent to join Robert Downey, Jr. in "Voyage of Doctor Doolittle."

--------
COMICS-STREAMING - From TheWrap:  Marvel-Netflix's "The Punisher" gets a second season.

----------
MOVIES - From Variety:  Guillermo del Toro has set up at Fox Searchlight to write and direct a remake of 20th Century Fox's 1947 Tyrone Power flick, "Nightmare Alley."

----------
CULTURE - From HuffPost:  " Inside The Voucher Schools That Teach L. Ron Hubbard, But Say They’re Not Scientologist"

----------
MOVIES - From ThePlaylist:  Seth Rogen to play Walter Cronkite in David Gordon Green's film, "Newsflash."

----------
MOVIES - From Collider:  Steven Caple, Jr. will direct "Creed 2" instead of Sylvester Stallone.  Stallone will return for the sequel along with stars Michael B. Jordan and Tessa Thompson.

----------
MOVIE AWARDS - From TheWrap:  The 2018 Golden Globe nominations are in...

----------
COMICS-FILM - From BleedingCool:  Even if the Disney-Fox merger happens, it may be too late for us to see Hugh Jackman playing Wolverine in a Marvel Studios movie.

----------
BOX OFFICE - From BoxOfficeMojo:  The winner of the 12/8 to 12/10/2017 weekend box office is Pixar's "Coco" with an estimated take of $18.6 million.

From Variety:  "Coco"wins weekend box office while "Star Wars: The Last Jedi" waits in the wings for next weekend.

----------
MOVIES AWARDS - From Variety:  "God's Own Country" wins big at 2017 British Independent Film Awards.

----------
POLITICS - From RSN:  Late night talk show host, Jimmy Kimmel, speaks on Alabama U.S. Senate candidate, Roy Moore, and his "Christian values."

TRAILERS:

From USAToday:  The first trailer for the animated film, "Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse," featuring the Miles Morales Spider-Man, once known as the "Ultimate Spider-Man."

OBIT:

From ESPN:  Tommy Nobis, NFL and college football great, has died at the age of 74, Thursday, December 14, 2017.  Playing for the University of Texas Longhorns, Nobis appeared on the covers of "Sports Illustrated" and "Life."  He was the first player drafted by the then expansion NFL team, the Atlanta Falcons, in the 1966 NFL draft.  After professional football, Nobis co-founded the Tommy Nobis Center to help people with disabilities gets job training.


Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review: Antonio Banderas Stomps the Yard in "Puss in Boots"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 41 (of 2012) by Leroy Douresseaux

Puss in Boots (2011)
Running time: 90 minutes (1 hour, 30 minutes)
MPAA – PG for some adventure action and mild rude humor
DIRECTOR: Chris Miller
WRITERS: Tom Wheeler; from a story by Will Davies and Brian Lynch (based upon the character created by Charles Perrault)
PRODUCERS: Joe M. Aguilar and Latifa Ouaou
EDITOR: Eric Dapkewicz
COMPOSER: Henry Jackman
Academy Award nominee

ANIMATION/FANTASY/ADVENTURE/COMEDY with elements of a Western

Starring: (voice) Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Zach Galifianakis, Billy Bob Thornton, Amy Sedaris, Constance Marie, and Guillermo del Toro

I don’t think DreamWorks Animation gets enough credit. They aren’t a weak sister to Pixar Animation Studios. In fact, in 2011, Pixar unleashed the god-awful Cars 2, but DreamWorks more than surpassed that with two excellent films, Kung Fu Panda 2 and the subject of this movie review…

Puss in Boots is a 2011 computer-animated adventure comedy film from DreamWorks Animation. The film stars Antonio Banderas, giving voice to the outlaw cat, Puss in Boots, the character that first appeared in Shrek 2 (2004). Puss in Boots the movie is both a spin-off of and prequel to the Shrek film franchise.

The story details the origins of Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) and tells how he became an outlaw. He was an orphaned kitten who finds a home at an orphanage run by the kind Imelda (Constance Marie) in the town of San Ricardo. While attempting to steal magic beans (from “Jack and the Beanstalk), Puss is reunited with his long-estranged childhood friend, the talking egg Humpty Alexander Dumpty (Zach Galifianakis). Puss is drawn to Humpty’s ally, Kitty Softpaws (Salma Hayek), a street-savvy Tuxedo cat.

The trio hatches a plan to steal the beans from the current owners, the outlaw couple, Jack (Billy Bob Thorton) and Jill (Amy Sedaris). The task, however, proves more difficult than Puss imagined, as he must survive a strange world and also a plot against his loved ones.

Part Zorro and part Valentino, Puss in Boots is a charming rogue, the kind of character that can drive a swashbuckling adventure film to success. Puss in Boots the movie is part Raiders of the Lost Ark with the style of a spaghetti Western plus the cracked fairy tale approach that defined the Shrek movies.

Puss in Boots isn’t groundbreaking, nor is it as technically dazzling as other DreamWorks Animations films, such as the Kung Fu Panda films and Megamind. Puss in Boots does, however, have enough bubbly charm and effervescence to share with less fortunate films.

Those less fortunate films would be movies that don’t have Antonio Banderas, an actor born to be loved by the camera, or, in the case of voice acting in an animated film, an actor with a bejeweled voice. Together with the artists that animated the Puss in Boots character, Banderas turned on the wit and magnetism, so that Puss in Boots virtually has no faults – as long as Puss in Boots is the center of attention. I appreciate the people involved with this movie, because I plan on watching Puss in Boots many more times.

8 of 10
A

NOTES:
2012 Academy Awards: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film of the Year” (Chris Miller)

2012 Golden Globes, USA: 1 nomination: “Best Animated Feature Film”

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

------------------


Friday, July 29, 2011

"Wild Wild West" Another Weird Western Disappointment

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 11 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux


Wild Wild West (1999)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for action violence, sex references and innuendo
DIRECTOR: Barry Sonnenfeld
WRITERS: S. S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Jeffrey Price, and Peter S. Seaman; based on the screen story by Jim Thomas and John Thomas
PRODUCERS: Jon Peters and Barry Sonnenfeld
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Michael Ballhaus
EDITOR: Jim Miller
COMPOSER: Elmer Bernstein

ACTION/ADVENTURE/FANTASY/SCI-FI/WESTERN

Starring: Will Smith, Kevin Kline, Kenneth Branagh, Selma Hayek, M. Emmett Walsh, Ted Levine, Garcelle Beauvais, and Ling Bai

Wild Wild West is a 1999 science fiction film starring Will Smith. The film is based upon the 1960s CBS television series, The Wild Wild West. While the TV series features lots of gadgets, the film focuses on bizarre machines and steampunk technology.

Jim West (Will Smith) is a brash gunslinger with a quick mouth. Artemus Gordon (Kevin Kline) is a U.S. Marshal with a mind for inventions and disguises. Arliss Loveless (Kenneth Branagh), an embittered former Confederate, threatens the United States and President Ulysses S. Grant (also played by Kline). President Grant forces West and Gordon to join and to fight Loveless and his diabolical machines. The mismatched pair bickers its way to Loveless as the villain and his most devastating creation awaits the two heroes in Spider Canyon, Utah.

Sonnenfeld first came to acclaim as Joel and Ethan Coen’s cinematographer in films like Raising Arizona and Miller’s Crossing. He went onto shoot When Harry Met Sally and Misery for Rob Reiner. His career as a director has been hit (Get Shorty and Men in Black) and miss (Addams Family Values and For Love or Money). Wild Wild West falls somewhere in between, kind of leaning toward being a miss.

This film allegedly went through many reshoots to up the humor content, and the changes only served to make an already awkward film more awkward. Wild Wild West is a hybrid, and like the television series upon which it is based, “The Wild, Wild West” (1965-70), that was part western, part science fiction, part adventure, the film is also a mish mash of several genres. It is dressed up like a high priced costumed drama circa late 19th Century, set in the Deep South, Washington D. C., and the barren wild West. It has elements of sci-fi, specifically in the assorted gadgets, machines, and inventions. Its characters are clearly modern in their outlook and with their know-it-all sensibilities.

The script, by four veteran Hollywood writers with resumes full of scripts for action movies and cinema of the fantastic, bounces along the wall and stumbles about like a drunk. The plot is simple: stop Lawless before he defeats the U.S. The execution is senseless, very likely because too many hands were involved. No one person with a single vision was really in charge. West has many moments of genuine comedy and a few decent action sequences, but at its heart, it is a badly constructed, weak movie.

Will Smith does his best to carry the load, and his character is both brash and funny. His humor never comes across as strained, and Smith is seemingly comfortable acting captain of this sinking ship. His personality is lively, and his face, whether happy with his own jokes or stern with action readiness, is open and engaging. It’s a joy to watch him.

Kline is okay, but certainly miscast. Being older than Smith, he could have been the wise, older hand. He has his moments, but sometimes he just seems like a fifth wheel on a bike. He buries himself so far in make up for his duel role as President Grant that he gets lost in the part of this expendable character. He does a decent job in the part, but, like the movie, it’s not really worth noting.

Branagh is nutty and hilarious in his over the top performance as the psychotic, and vengeful Southern. Missing his lower extremities and riding a mechanical chair thing, Arliss Loveless is ridiculous, but he throws himself into a role so extreme and wacky, it belongs in a cheap novel or a superhero comic book. He’s simply a hoot. The rivalry between Smith’s West and Branagh’s Loveless is hilarious, and they make a very good screen pair.

Wild Wild West is a somewhat entertaining movie, but it is difficult to see where it had any potential to be better. The studio, Time-Warner, might have figured that it would be easy to sell a movie based on an idea with which people were already familiar, namely the television program The Wild, Wild West. They may have thought that audiences would readily accept a big budget update of this idea made with big named stars. It’s worked box office magic in the past, but, as in this case, it usually means average at best product. Even in its best moments, West is a light, fluffy distraction, forgotten soon after consumption.

5 of 10
C+

NOTES:
2000 Razzie Awards: 4 wins: “Worst Director” (Barry Sonnenfeld), “Worst Original Song” (Stevie Wonder, Kool Moe Dee, and Will Smith for the song "Wild Wild West"), “Worst Picture” (Warner Bros.), “Worst Screen Couple” (Kevin Kline and Will Smith), and “Worst Screenplay” (Jim Thomas, John Thomas, S.S. Wilson, Brent Maddock, Jeffrey Price, and Peter S. Seaman); 4 nominations: “Worst Actor” (Kevin Kline), “Worst Supporting Actor” (Kenneth Branagh), “Worst Supporting Actress” (Salma Hayek), and “Worst Supporting Actress” (Kevin Kline as a prostitute)


Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Review: "From Dusk Till Dawn" Still a Bloody, Glorious Mess



TRASH IN MY EYE No. 68 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux


From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Running time: 108 minutes (1 hour, 48 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence and gore, language, and nudity
DIRECTOR/EDITOR: Robert Rodriguez
WRITERS: Quentin Tarantino; based upon the story by Robert Kurtzman
PRODUCERS: Gianni Nunnari and Meir Teper
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro

HORROR/ACTION/DRAMA with elements of comedy and crime

Starring: Harvey Keitel, George Clooney, Quentin Tarantino, Juliette Lewis, Ernest Liu, Salma Hayek, Cheech Marin, Danny Trejo, Tom Savini, Fred Williamson, Michael Parks, Kelly Preston, John Saxson, and Brenda Hillhouse

After a bloody bank robbery, Seth Gecko (George Clooney) and his younger brother, Richard (Quentin Tarantino), are on the lam. The brothers take Jacob Fuller (Harvey Keitel), an ex-preacher, and his children, Kate (Juliette Lewis) and Scott (Ernest Liu) hostage, in order to use the Fullers’ RV for their getaway. The Geckos and the Fullers escape the police dragnet across the border into Mexico, where the Gecko Brothers are supposed to rendezvous with a local drug kingpin at a biker and trucker cantina called the Titty Twister. What the quintet doesn’t know is that the bar’s owners and some of the clientele are bloodthirsty vampires.

Movies like Scream, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, or even Interview with a Vampire might make the list of great horror movies from the 1990’s, but the Robert Rodriguez directed, Quentin Tarantino scripted horror film, From Dusk Till Dawn is a horrifying, classic howler. Part dark comedy, part gore fest, part action horror, and part crime thriller, FDTD is hell of a film. It’s so blood soaked at times that it might give some people pause and grab their stomachs. Some of the monster and creature makeup and effects are way over the top and hilarious, but the film works.

From Dusk Till Dawn is actually like two movies in one. The first half is straight out of classic crime cinema – dangerous, murderous, cop-killing thieves are on the lam with hostages in tow. The second half is apparently an ode to outlandish Mexican horror films (of which I never seen a one). This mixture is something only genre storytellers do well, and two guys like Tarantino and Rodriguez are steeped in stuff like comics, pulp fiction, and lowbrow cinema to the point where they can make something like FDTD work.

The cast is obviously having a good time; the extras seem to have the best time. George Clooney’s cool and calm killer carries this film across two genres, and his movie star presence shines even in something like this. However, blaxtiploitation star Fred Williamson and horror movie makeup legend, Tom Savini, give sweet kicks to their small, but deliciously kooky parts.

8 of 10
A

Friday, May 20, 2005


From Dusk Till Dawn [Blu-ray]


Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Grown Ups" a Stunted Buddy Comedy



TRASH IN MY EYE No. 1 (of 2011) by Leroy Douresseaux

Grown Ups (2010)
Running time: 102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for crude material including suggestive references, language and some male rear nudity
DIRECTOR: Dennis Dugan
WRITERS: Adam Sandler and Fred Wolf
PRODUCERS: Jack Giarraputo and Adam Sandler
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Theo van de Sande
EDITOR: Tom Costain

COMEDY

Starring: Adam Sandler, Kevin James, Chris Rock, Rob Schneider, David Spade, Salma Hayek, Maria Bello, Maya Rudolph, Joyce Van Patten, Ebony Jo-Ann, Di Quon, Steve Buscemi, Colin Quinn, Tim Meadows, Madison Riley, Jamie Chung, and Ashley Loren

Adam Sandler’s recent summer comedy, Grown Ups, may seem like a family comedy, but it isn’t. There certainly are plenty of laughs for parents and their children, but this is an all-star, buddy-comedy aimed at Baby Boomers and Gen X’ers who are fans of Sandler and his comedian/comic actor friends: Chris Rock, Kevin James, Rob Schneider, and David Spade.

Grown Ups is the story of five childhood pals who reunite after 30 years to mourn the passing of their old basketball coach, “Buzzer” (Blake Clark). Most of them are husbands and fathers, but their families have never met. The leader of the friends is Lenny Feder (Adam Sandler), a high-powered Hollywood agent, who is married to Roxanne (Salma Hayek), a sexy fashion designer. Eric Lamonsoff (Kevin James) is a businessman married to a lovely wife, Sally (Maria Bello), who still breastfeeds their four-year-old son. Kurt McKenzie (Chris Rock) is a henpecked, stay-at-home dad whose wife, Deanne (Maya Rudolph), is the primary breadwinner. Rob Hilliard (Rob Schneider) is a thrice-divorced vegan married to a woman, Gloria (Joyce Van Patten) who is much older than him. Marcus Higgins (David Space) is merely a lazy womanizer.

Over the 4th of July weekend, these five men return to New England and gather at a lake house where they quickly reconnect. However, the great outdoors may test and/or strengthen the bonds of family and friendship in ways they never expect.

Grown Ups has cute child actors playing the children and good-looking (even sexy, especially the case of Salma Hayek) actresses playing the wives and older daughters, but this is about the quintet of Sandler, James, Rock, Schneider, and Spade. There are some good moments of family comedy, slapstick comedy, and raunchy comedy, but the focus is this modern day version of a “Rat Pack” movie. Grown Ups is aimed at the fans of the five stars, but even their fans will quickly realize that this is not their best work.

Grown Ups is an amiable comedy, but is nothing special. It is a domestic comedy with little, if anything, of substance to say about its middle-aged characters. I don’t know what to make of this film, but I suppose that because I like the stars I should be happy to get this gathering of pals. OK, I like it. Although as quality goes, Grown Ups is pretty bland and average, and the grade I give it reflects that I like these guys.

5 of 10
B-

Monday, January 03, 2011


Friday, September 3, 2010

Review: "Once Upon a Time in Mexico" - Robert Rodriguez's "Mexico Trilogy" Stumbled to the Finish Line

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 142 (of 2003) by Leroy Douresseaux

Once Upon a Time in Mexico (2003)
Running time: 102 minutes (1 hour, 42 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong violence and for language
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Robert Rodriguez
PRODUCERS: Elizabeth Avellan, Carlos Gallardo, and Robert Rodriguez
CINEMATOGRAPHER/COMPOSER/EDITOR: Robert Rodriguez

ACTION/CRIME/DRAMA

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Johnny Depp, Mickey Rourke, Eva Mendes, Danny Trejo, Enrique Inglesias, Marco Leonardi, Cheech Marin, Ruben Blades, Gerardo Vigil, Pedro Armendariz, Jr., and Willem Dafoe

Take a Sergio Leone spaghetti western like The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly and spin it on its head; add the flavor of the Southwest and Mexico, and you just might have director Robert Rodriguez’s Once Upon a Time in Mexico, a follow up of sorts to his 1995 film Desperado, itself a remake of Rodriguez’s El Mariachi. The film is certainly unique, being a mixture of several genres, but not really being like anything else in particular. As with most Rodriguez’s work, the film is of his own unique and zesty recipe, even if the film ends up being quite messy.

Sands (Johnny Depp) maybe a rogue agent of the Central Intelligence Agency, but like a lot of things in this movie, it’s not entirely clear what he is and what he wants. He hires the legendary El Mariachi (Antonio Banderas, reprising his role from Desperado), the guitar case assassin, and his compadres to kill Mexico’s El Presidente (Pedro Armendariz). Sands, however, is into manipulating a whole slew of players including a police officer (Eva Mendes) for whom he has amorous feelings, retired FBI agent (Ruben Blades) and a drug lord (Willem Dafoe), among others. It’s an explosive plan Sands has set for detonation during Mexico’s Day of the Dead celebrations, but he just might find himself scorched by the explosion.

Once Upon a Time has a lot going on in it, and there is so much to see; the film is literally a visual feast. Its most glaring deficit, probably the most important element, is a weak story and an even weaker script. Even if you take this film at its face value, which is that the tale is more impressionistic and symbolic than literal, the narrative is too jumbled to make much sense. There’s a lot of goofiness in the hyper-violence, and the film’s action sequences have a rapid and rabid, colorful, manic, music video cool about them. The film’s color palette is so lush and delicious that the film seems practically edible. Still, when all the dazzling is done, by the end of the film, the best you can do is agree that it seems as if the good guys won.

The acting (what there is of it) is mostly good, and Depp (He’s one of those actors that the camera really loves) steals the show. He is, however, not the lead, and although this is an ensemble drama, his character, if not the most important, is played by the most intriguing cast member. Maybe, he should have been the lead and his character more than just a catalyst (the crap starter) because Banderas, as the central figure here, just doesn’t work.

Rodriguez, as usual, is a one-man gang filmmaker. A musician, he scored the film, and edited it. He shot the film himself using digital video camera technology (which filmmaker George Lucas introduced him to in 2000), and he is, of course co-producer, writer, and director. I’m impressed with his verve, but I wish there was a little more meat to Rodriguez’s film. He’s a jack-of-all-trades, but sometimes, he doesn’t seem to be very good at any one. This is one of those times when a collaborator or two would have better served the end product. Once Upon a Time in Mexico is a good idea that doesn’t come to fruition. Although on the surface it may seem otherwise, it ends up being like a lot of summer action flicks, full of sound and fury, and not, surprisingly, empty.

5 of 10
C+

--------------


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Review: "Desperado" Both Beautiful and Brutal

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 65 (of 2005) by Leroy Douresseaux

Desperado (1995)
Running time: 106 minutes (1 hour, 46 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong bloody violence, a strong sex sequence, and language
DIRECTOR/WRITER/EDITOR: Robert Rodriguez
PRODUCERS: Bill Borden and Robert Rodriguez
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Guillermo Navarro

ACTION/WESTERN with elements of crime

Starring: Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek, Joaquim de Almeida, Cheech Marin, Steve Buscemi, Carlos Gomez, Quentin Tarantino, Tito Larriva, Carlos Gallardo, Albert Michel, Jr., and Danny Trejo

Robert Rodriguez followed up his ultra-low budget independent thriller, El Mariachi, with the larger-budgeted ($7 million, which is low by Hollywood standards) Desperado. The film is a slightly re-imagined sequel. El Mariachi is now played by Antonio Banderas, replacing Carlos Gallardo, who played the character in the original film and who does make a cameo appearance here. This time the no-named musician (we do learn his name by the end of the film) is stalking Bucho (Joaquim de Almeida), the last Mexican drug lord with connections to the death of his girlfriend (as seen in the first film). He meets Carolina (Salma Hayek), a beautiful bookstore owner and falls in love with her while also taking on a small army of Bucho’s henchmen in a small, dusty border town. El Mariachi learns, however, that Bucho has a strong link to his past.

Some described Robert Rodriguez’s poetic way of presenting violence in this movie to the cinematic styles of John Woo and Sam Peckinpah, and the shoot-‘em-ups in Desperado are indeed eye candy, especially the violence in the first hour of this film. This first half of the film sparkles with black comedy, acerbic wit, and violent slapstick, but as the film goes on, it begins to list. The romantic scenes are dry and are only road bumps in the narrative. Whereas El Mariachi was short and tightly efficient, Desperado is a bit long and a little padded. Still, the combination of Guillermo Navarro’s warmly hued photography and Rodriguez’s visual acumen make for a beautiful, brutal, ballet of film violence, proving that violence does indeed look good on film, if the director knows what he’s doing. And with each movie, Rodriguez proves to be a natural born moviemaker.

7 of 10
B+

Monday, May 16, 2005

-------------------


Monday, August 23, 2010

Review: Excellent "Dogma" Falters Badly in Last Act

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 20 (of 2002) by Leroy Douresseaux

Dogma (1999)
Running time: 130 minutes (2 hours, 10 minutes)
MPAA – R for strong language including sex-related dialogue, violence, crude humor and some drug content
WRITER/DIRECTOR: Kevin Smith
PRODUCER: Scott Mosier
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Robert Yeoman (director of photography)
EDITOR: Scott Mosier and Kevin Smith
COMPOSER: Howard Shore

COMEDY/FANTASY

Starring: Matt Damon, Ben Affleck, Linda Fiorentino, Chris Rock, Janeane Garofalo, George Carlin, Jason Lee, Alan Rickman, Salma Hayek, Alanis Morrissette, Jason Mewes, and Kevin Smith

Bethany Sloane (Linda Fiorentino) is the last known descendant of Jesus Christ. Metatron the voice of God (Alan Rickman) sends her on a quest to stop two renegade angels from exploiting a loophole in Roman Catholic law to regain entry into heaven, an act that will cause existence to cease. Joining her on her quest are Jay (Jason Mewes) and Silent Bob (the director Kevin Smith), and the forgotten black 13th Apostle, Rufus (Chris Rock). The two angels, Bartleby (Ben Affleck) and Loki (Matt Damon), are encouraged in their destructive quest by a fallen angel/muse, Azrael (Jason Lee).

Directed by Kevin Smith (Clerks.), Dogma is meant to be satire of or, at least, poke fun, at Roman Catholic Dogma, and it succeeds at pointing out some of the Church’s eccentricities, although many of the complaints could be applied to Christianity in general, or most other faiths, for that matter. Dogma’s points are mostly complaints that one could hear from any armchair observer or frustrated Sunday mass-goer. The real pleasure of this film, and there are, surprisingly, many pleasures, is the execution of the film and raucous comedy.

Despite moments of long-winded and awkward soliloquies, the dialogue is pointed and funny. Often harsh and abrasive, it ranges from being hilarious and uproarious to smart and dead on in some of the film’s more opinionated moments. Dogma is an unusual film, a comedy that is very much steeped in the fantastique. However, its witty and ribald repartee engages the viewers and draws him through some of the film’s quirkier moments.

The acting is good from top bill to supporting cast, and they all manage to be quite convincing even when choking on mouthfuls of the verbose Smith’s dialogue. The characters Jay and Silent Bob are as funny as ever, and the make excellent sidekicks to the main players and story. Ms. Fiorentino makes a dramatic, but wry, turn as the downtrodden Bethany, she of shaky faith; she is surprisingly good although, at first glance, she seems an odd choice for a Kevin Smith film. Chris Rock also makes a rather nice appearance as Rufus; he manages to both be true to his shtick and to the film.

For all it’s fun, Dogma falls apart in the end. The last half hour’s violence is careless and special effects are not impressive seem a little cheap. Alanis Morissette’s appearance as God is the final straw in the film’s dismal closing chapter.

Oh, well. They almost had it. Watch Dogma for all its fun, especially if you’re familiar with Kevin Smith’s brand of comedy, but expect to pay for the fun with a poor ending.

5 of 10
B-

------------------