26 posts categorized "Hollywood"

October 23, 2023

TROPIC THUNDER — SHOCKTOBER!

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ColeSmithey.comSearch and Destroy Comedy
Stiller and Company Launch More Than F-Bombs
By Cole Smithey

A heady blend of outrageous Grand Guignol comic set pieces and fast-twitch dialogue, "Tropic Thunder" walks a fine line of dangerous satire that straddles gallows humor and bawdy pop-culture inflected slapstick. In the midst of filming an "Apocalypse Now"-styled movie an overzealous crew squander a multi-million dollar explosion thereby forcing director Damien Cockburn (Steve Coogan) to plant cameras and explosives in an area of a Southeast Asian jungle for the cast to perform a low-budget reality version of the script.

Top 10 Raunchiest Comedy Moments - Movie Review / Film Essay

Action-movie-has-been Tugg Speedman (Ben Stiller), goofball comedy star/heroin addict Jeff Portnoy (Jack Black), Aussie method actor Kirk Lazarus (Robert Downey Jr.), hip-hop pretty boy Alpa Chino (Brandon T. Jackson) and nerdy Kevin Sandusky (Jay Baruchel) make up the cast of war movie stereotypes. Aside from some scene-stealing by Tom Cruise as a bald and fat Hollywood producer prone to cursing a blue streak, Robert Downey Jr. owns the movie with his comically layered performance as an actor who underwent skin pigmentation treatment in order to play an African American soldier. Downey’s performance will go down in cinema history as one of the most ridiculous yet comically effective experiments of the decade.

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The movie opens with a series of hilarious parody commercials that identify each of the main "actors" involved in the film-inside-the-film. An Alpa Chino blurb for an energy drink called "Booty Sweat" goes so far into hip-hop culture’s one-track obsession for poontang as to be cathartic. A Tugg Speedman segment for his flagging "Scorcher" action movie franchise points up the futility of action flick sequels, and Jeff Portnoy’s fat/fart comedy movie series "Fatties" pokes in the ribs of Mike Myers and Eddie Murphy for their efforts in that area of humor.

Amazon.com: Tropic Thunder : Robert Downey, Jr., Nick Nolte, David  Pressman, Amy Stiller, Tom Cruise, Ben Stiller, Steve Coogan, Jack Black,  Matthew McConaughey, Justin Theroux, Eric Winzenreid, Reggie Lee, Jay  Baruchel, Trieu

But it’s the sham trailer for Kirk Lazarus’ gay-themed movie "Satan’s Alley," about lust between priests in the Middle Ages, that induces howls of laughter. Tobey Maguire does cameo honors as the object of desire for Lazarus’ character, and narration by movie trailer narration specialist Don LaFontaine provides added punch to the longing stares of passion.

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The satire’s more obvious points of departure comes from movies like "Full Metal Jacket," "Rambo," and to some degree Robert Altman’s "The Player." An ironic use of archetypal war related rock songs shoots daggers at the portentous syrup of Buffalo Springfield’s "For What It’s Worth" that posits "There’s something happening here" as an objective view of a militizia-enforced society at war with itself. The outdated effect of the song is transmogrified into an irreverent post-modern joke.

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It’s a movie about the making of a war movie during an era when all bow at the altar of pop culture celebrity, making interaction between the actors hinge on experiences that are already thrice removed from reality. The brilliance of "Thunder’s" lampoonery comes across in its deeply woven threads of self-referencing character actors and deceptively offhand narrative touches that combine to form a perfect storm of comic ideas. A finely tooled supporting performance from Nick Nolte as the narcissistic Viet Nam vet on whose autobiographical book the sub-movie is based, bestows a degree of cynicism that effortlessly matches the American media’s abysmal condition.

Image gallery for Tropic Thunder - FilmAffinity

The story gets muddled as our team of impromptu soldiers attempt to rescue Tugg Speedman from his incarceration at the hand of a group of heroin purveyors led by a 12-year-old tyrant named Tran (Brandon Soo Hoo). Speedman is reduced to recreating scenes for his captors from his movie "Simple Jack," in which he played a buck-toothed retarded man. Kurk’s reprimand to Tugg for going "full retard" in a movie as a taboo that he should have known better than commit, arrives with examples from "Rain Man," "Forest Gump," and "I Am Sam." Kurt’s insider knowledge about acting rules and styles throws a bravura wink at the profession that’s wrapped up in the being of Tom Cruise’s incarnation as Hollywood mogul Les Grossman.

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The movie wraps up with Cruise doing a hip-hop-styled dance to T.I’s "U Don't Know Me" that contrasts darkly to his famous "Risky Business" underwear jig. It’s a lasting moment of sheer rebellion that puts a bow on "Tropic Thunder" as a comedy intent on searching and destroying mediocrity. It’s a movie that knows what it’s up against.

(Paramount) Rated R. 106 mins. 

4 Stars ColeSmithey.comCozy Cole

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October 10, 2023

WHATEVER HAPPENED TO BABY JANE? — SHOCKTOBER!

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Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does. This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

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Thanks a lot acorns!

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ColeSmithey.comRobert Aldrich's moody psychological thriller is at once and Gothic and postmodern.

Real-life bitter rivals, Bette Davis and Joan Crawford play into their real-life dueling reputations.

Here the iconic dames of Hollywood play child star sisters whose fates are inextricably woven together.

The petite Davis is positively monumental as Baby Jane Hudson, a former vaudeville child performer who hit her peak in 1917 by singing a shamelessly sentimental number entitled "I've Written a Letter to Daddy."

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The song is about a little girl who mails a letter to her deceased father in heaven. As much of a spoiled brat as Jane is, her sister Blanche harbors a seething jealousy that is profound in its dark depths.

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Currently, it's 1935 in Los Angeles. The retired sisters live together in a compact mansion formerly owned by the silver-screen superstar Valentino. Both sisters had success in the movies, but Blanche enjoyed considerably more fame than Jane. It doesn't matter much anymore since a car — presumably driven by Jane — struck Blanch and left her paralyzed from the waist down some years earlier.

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A black maid named Elvira (Maidie Norman) visits the house weekly to do the cleaning and assist with Blanche's special needs. Confined to a wheelchair in a second-floor bedroom, Blanche plans to put her abusive sister Jane into a nursing home. With her face caked in white make-up, Jane likes to present uncooked items to Blanche when she isn't treating her with more disdain than most people would reserve for their worst enemies.

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Jane plans on reviving her career. She enlists the assistance of a local pianist by the name of Edwin Flagg (unforgettably played by Victor Buono) to help restore her career. Blanche is not without her own annoying habits. The buzzer she relentlessly presses to summon Jane interrupts the movie with a shrill noise that supplies an irritating tone to Blanche's own twisted psychological state.

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“What Ever Happened To Baby Jane” was the primer for the “psycho-biddy” subgenre that gave birth to films such as "Hush... Hush, Sweet Charlotte (also directed by Robert Aldrich).

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Bette Davis and Joan Crawford own their diabolically self-destructive roles with virtuosic authority. The self-referential undertow of their career identities carries the drama to its disturbing conclusion with the weight of history upon it. "What Ever Happened to Baby Jane" is a legendary thriller worthy of its two great women starts of Hollywood’s Golden Era.

Not Rated. 134 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“ SHOCKTOBER!!! THE BLOOD OF DRACULACozy Cole

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January 30, 2023

BLONDE

  ColeSmithey.com    Groupthink doesn't live here, critical thought does.

Welcome!

This ad-free website is dedicated to Agnès Varda and to Luis Buñuel.

Get cool rewards when you click on the button to pledge your support through Patreon.

Thanks a lot acorns!

Your kind generosity keeps the reviews coming!

Cole Smithey on Patreon

 

ColeSmithey.comStraight masterpiece.

Screenwriter/director Andrew Dominik's filmic adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates's 2000 fictionalized novel of the same title serves as a trenchant indictment of capitalism, the media, and of an incoherent American patriarchy that knows nothing but abuse.

Ana de Armas is uncanny in her fearless portrayal of Hollywood's most iconic actress.

Stunner.

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It's a coincidence that in the same year that Austin Butler embodied Elvis Presley with an otherworldly performance of rigor and inspiration, Ana de Armas hits a similar if not more profound height of authenticity.

Elvis and Marilyn were each prisoners of their enormous fame/marketability.

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Ana de Armas may just be the finest actor of our time.

Unforgettable.

Spellbinding.

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Through the darkness and pain of a constant stream of traumas, Norma Jeane Baker battled demons near and remembered with a sharp intellect that Andrew Dominik keenly exposes through Ana de Armas's high-wire performance.

Indisputably, Andrew Dominik is a true master artist of Cinema.

The proof is in the pudding.

Gracefully cuts quick to the bone.

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Audiences familiar with Dominik's past films, "Chopper" (2000), "The Assassination of Jesse James by the coward Robert Ford" (2007), and "Killing Them Softly" (2012), might have an inkling for the depth of visually dynamic storytelling on display in "Blonde."

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"Blonde" functions as a feminist narrative that digs in dark corners of 20th century American reality and ideology where beauty is a trashy fad object to be worshiped, reviled, used up and thrown away.

Rigorous feminist think piece. You bet.

Joyce Carol Oates was no slouch.

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So, if you're real serious, read Joyce Carol Oates's novel "Blonde," because you can.

And, besides, Joyce Carol Oates is still alive at the time of this writing, and even gave Ana de Armas

props for her exquisite portrayal of Norma Jeane Baker/Marilyn Monroe.

Right on.

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Norma Jeane Mortenson revolted against the cold indifference of those who imagined they owned her, which was just about everyone.

Rebel.

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It was a herculean effort that could not be sustained for very long.

What we are left with is just a memory of a rare, fragile, talented young woman being bought and sold into modern-day slavery under the guise of Hollywood.

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These days people give their lives away on social media and YouTube for pennies. 

People's lives are reduced to content.

This phenomenal film is not that.

This is Cinema.

Take your content and shove it.

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Rated NC-17. 166 mins.

5 Stars“ColeSmithey.com“

Cozy Cole

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