Tag Archive: Lee Pace


Report Card: June 2012

All right, it is now July (where does the time GO?), but I watched all these movies in June.  Honest.

Up until the recent heat wave, this summer was perfectly agreeable for spending time outdoors, so my movie-watching has been sparse. Then came the triple-digit temperatures and oppressive humidity that makes it feel like you’re swimming through a steaming tub of dirty sweat socks, and I retreated to air-conditioned comfort. The downside of that is a bit of cabin fever; the upside is MOVIES! Here’s the latest trio of cinematic samplings.

Goons Are People Too

Based on real-life enforcer Doug Smith’s book, Goon (2011), screenplay by Jay Baruchel and Evan Goldberg and directed by Michael Dowse, is an absolute HOOT! Seann William Scott shines as the sweet bouncer-turned-hockey player who is good at one thing: protecting his teammates.

A must-see for anyone who likes a heartwarming underdog story but especially fitting for hockey fans and anyone who likes Slap Shot(1977).

One word of caution—if you can’t stand the real violence that often comes with hockey, you might not like it here. But if you can, just remember it’s a movie, all the blood is fake, and the story is so worth it.

A

A Journey of Mythic Proportions

The Fall (2006) is an opulent cinematic journey through a twisted fairytale told by a convalescing stuntman (Lee Pace) to an adorable little girl (Catinca Untaru) who helps him to realize that stories can be changed, and so can real life.

What I love about this film, directed by Tarsem Singh, is not only the visually stunning scenes of the imaginary world (filmed in about 20 countries), but also the genius use of its amazing stars, who are filmed at times in moments of seemingly effortless spontaneous dialogue. I give a truckload of credit to a director who can set up his starts and then set them free in a scene. It works especially well when they are as talented at Pace (Pushing Daisies, A Single Man) and as beguilingly precocious as Untaru.

Like a cross between The Princess Bride and the coming-of-age films of Guillermo del Toro, this is a lovely film for a dreamy, rainy afternoon.

A-

Another Hangover

I know, I know.  I kind of hated The Hangover (2009), deeming it a wildly inappropriate, puerile attempt to be funny.  I could not believe so many people loved it!  I agreed to watch its sequel, The Hangover Part II (2011) because it was one of those lazy days when only a stupid comedy will do.  And it was free on HBO.  Know what?  I kind of liked it. My conclusion?

(A)   I am losing brain cells at an alarming rate.

(B)   I’ve lowered my expectations to meet the new level of entertainment being doled out to the masses.

(C)   I might have to give The Hangover (Part I) another sporting try.

Boys and girls, we know the answer for the majority of multiple-choice test questions is C.  Here’s to keeping an open mind.

The usual suspects are back, including stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis, and Justin Bartha. The premise is even less plausible and stretched even thinner than in the first film, and yet, it somehow works. And it all takes place in an exotic locale.  The gags actually flow smoothly from the plot (though there are gaping holes, like Phil’s wife never even asking where he was). And when Stu solves the mystery, I actually thrilled at his ingenious discovery! (Never mind that Teddy, Mason Lee, is not more upset about missing something … just another of those annoying little plot holes.)

Lesson? Maybe it’s just that sometimes a completely goofy movie is the ticket.  I keep hearing the word “Relax.” Or, in the words of Nick in The Big Chill, “You’re so analytical! Sometimes you just have to let art flow over you.”

C+

A Little Down on Jump Street

I was a fan of the original series, and of course own it since I have “everything  Johnny Depp ever did.” And Johnny, along with Peter DeLuise and Holly Robinson Peete (original 21 Jump Street colleagues) appear in this supposed modern-day rehas, cleverly titled 21 Jump Street (2012).  Ahem.

If it aims to pay homage to its roots, it does so crudely.  Jonah Hill carries the comedic aspects of the movie, Channing Tatum struts around supposedly being the “good looking one,” and the rest of the cast is just kind of along for the ride. Though there are a few clever bits (like things NOT blowing up that should), this sophomoric flick ultimately tries too hard and falls short.

C-

Have you seen any of these films?  Chime in about what you thought!  Or, add something about a worthwhile flick you’ve seen lately.

It’s been a busy month! Nevertheless, the movie report card has some entries that take a bit more explanation than usual, so here goes:

The Pleasant Surprises

Ceremony (2010) is a peculiar glimpse into some pretty screwed-up lives, yet it leaves one feeling an odd sense of lightness and hope. Michael Angarano plays Sam, a pitiably adorable romantic and failing writer of bizarre children’s stories, who crashes the wedding weekend of a woman he once spent the night with. Most of the characters are pathetic in one way or another, but they curiously grow on you. Even the self-absorbed fiancé (Lee Pace) has a patient strength barely visible under his primping bravado but evident in the moments when he takes care of his flaky Zoe (Uma Thurman). It’s one of those films that you will either love or hate—and be aware that it begins rather slowly—but if you do give it a chance, you might find some pleasant surprises too.

Much to the credit of writer/director Max Winkler (son of Henry Winkler), the characters are not wrapped up in neat little packages, and I found myself wishing this film were a book adaptation so I could read the book and find out more about each of them. I wanted to know what had happened to Marshall (Reece Thompson) and why Zoe’s brother Teddy (Jake M. Johnson) was such a mess, though she loved him so fiercely despite that. I wanted to know their thoughts and their plans. They were real.  Ceremony is not for everyone, but if you like Feeling Minnesota (1996) or Wes Anderson’s films, you may be charmed by this one. I was.

B

Suck (2009) is a rock-musical-vampire-movie, written and directed by Canadian actor/director Rob Stefaniuk. He also stars along with Jessica Paré, Paul Anthony, and Mike Lobel, as a member of the band, the Winners (tongue firmly in cheek), who are barely making ends meet with their back-alley gigs while sleeping in their transportation—a hearse. Their ineffective manager (Dave Foley) says himself that they ought to fire him. And then, along comes a vampire and changes their lives. Now they are getting really popular, and all they have to worry about is Eddie Van Helsing *cough* (Malcolm McDowell) hunting them down. The bewildering cast also includes Alice Cooper, Iggy Pop, Henry Rollins, and Alex Lifeson. I also really got as kick out of the effects surrounding the band’s travels through Canada and New York.  Fun to watch!

B+

The Disappointments

The Help (2011) could have been so much better, given the talent involved, so I personally found it sad that it reminded me of another disappointing “movie of the week,” The Blind Side (also a movie that many others loved). How can I say this? I certainly will receive hate mail. Most people adore The Help. It seems unassailable, since it’s hard to say anything against a story depicting the triumph of the help’s quiet dignity over the malicious ignorance of pre-civil-rights-era bigots. *sigh*

That’s not the point—let’s look at it as a film.  It is not bad.  In fact, it’s mostly enjoyable, with wonderful performances. Leading the pack of talent are Viola Davis (as Aibileen Clark), Jessica Chastain (Celia Foote), and Bryce Dallas Howard (Hilly Holbrook); Emma Stone (Skeeter Phelan) is adorable and competent as always.

Where my problem lies with this film is that it’s a formulaic, gasp-a-minute tear-fest that glosses over any true character development and plays to the audience’s sense of “this is the good fight, so you must cheer,” even though the story is not even a true one.  Some of my fellow viewers pointed out, “But things LIKE this did happen. It’s based on stories from that era.” For my money, I would rather watch true reminiscences (and there are so many real stories out there) than musings that milk the sorrows and struggles of the period.

Those who had read the book also told me, “Well, the characters are better developed in the book.”  What?!  Whoever made a rule that when a film adaptation is made, the characters cannot be as rich or round as they are meant to be?  Plenty of films, including adaptations, present rich and realistic characters.  Stop using that excuse!  There is, for instance, no reason in the world that Skeeter’s mother (played by the wonderful Allison Janney, who was just wasted here) had to come off as an unintelligible psycho. Yes, I get the fact that she was both ill and bound by the mores of the day; that doesn’t mean she has multiple personalities, making her unrealistic as a character.

This film could have been so much more powerful had it been slightly more subtle and, of course, focused on character development—after all, what is more important in a film about the human spirit? As it was, the movie accomplished something that few have in the past: it made NOT want to read the book.

B-

Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2010) is the worst comic-adapted-to-film I’ve seen since The Mutant Chronicles. I wish people would stop making putrid flops like this; that trend should have gone out with big shoulder pads.

I’ll watch just about anything supernatural or based on comic books, but it seems the moviemakers here simply wanted to cash in on moviegoers’ current love affair with vampires, werewolves, and all things alluringly monstrous. Speaking of which, Brandon Routh, bless his heart, may be eye candy, but he can’t act his way out of a paper bag. Even one of my faves, Peter Storemare, could not shine in this mess.

The only saving grace was Sam Huntington (Fanboys) as the sidekick, playing second fiddle to Routh again, as he did in Superman Returns. Unfortunately, even his amusing delivery can’t fix the awful writing.

D

Here are a few other films I watched over the past couple of weeks:

Film Grade Comment
The Jerk

B+

“I was born a poor black child.”  Classic silliness!  Gotta love Steve Martin and Bernadette Peters.
Hearts of Darkness

A-

For those of us who love Apocalypse Now, this is a terrific look behind the scenes, from learning about Martin Sheen’s personal difficulties and on-location heart attack, to seeing a 14-year-old Larry Fishburn waxing eloquent, to following the challenging journey of Francis Ford Coppola from dream to nightmare and back.  His wife, Eleanor, filmed this documentary footage and adds interesting insights about the journey into the jungle.
The Human Centipede (2009)

C-

I finally watched this sicko horror flick after hearing so many, ahem, intriguing things about it.  It was like a bad and bloody car accident—I was repulsed but could not look away.  The ending is truly freakish, especially if one thinks about what that poor “part B” girl is going to do now.  *shiver*  Astonishing is the fact that the creepy doctor (Dieter Laser) is even more horrifying than the creature he creates! Unless you are a diehard fan of gruesome horror flicks, skip this one.
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