Tag Archives: John Goodman

New on Blu – 10 Cloverfield Lane and Eddie the Eagle

10cloverfieldlane6

10 Cloverfield Lane

Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is in a car accident and awakes to an injured leg and a chain securing her to a bare wall, and soon she meets the man responsible. Howard (John Goodman) is a self-described “sensible guy,” and he needs her to know three things. An attack of some kind has left the world outside this underground bunker saturated with poison gas, he’s responsible for saving her life, and as he says plainly right before her face drains of hope and vigor, “No one is looking for you.” Michelle soon gets the lay of the strictly dictated land. She’s not allowed to leave — it’s for her own safety, but the multiple padlocks on the bunker’s hatches, as well as the gun on Howard’s belt, make it a difficult prospect regardless — but it should only take a year or two for the deadly gas above to dissipate.

You should buy it. Issues with the ending aside, this is a top-notch, claustrophobic little thriller. The majority of the film takes place in cramped quarters, and director Dan Trachtenberg makes sure we feel that lack of space in our lungs. An air vent sequence in particular might just trigger fears you never knew you had. We grow to understand the geography of the bunker along with Michelle, but just as important and well-defined is the film’s attention to sound design as both the familiar and the foreign reverberate between the walls. Scenes of plausible serenity give way to suspense and terror, sometimes slowly, excruciatingly, and sometimes faster than we’re prepared for — blame Goodman for most of the latter instances — and the entirety holds viewers in a grip that only continues to tighten. Don’t worry about its connection to Cloverfield, and just enjoy the ride.

Eddie the Eagle

Eddie is a bespectacled kid with a leg brace in ’70s England when he decides his life goal is becoming an athlete in the Olympics. He perseveres while no one believes in him, breaking multiple pairs of glasses in the process, and by 1987 Eddie (Taron Egerton) comes to settle on ski jumping. England has no team, which is fine as Eddie has no coach or experience. One of those things changes when he meets Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), an ex-American ski jumper has-been who takes Eddie under his wing as the young man heads into the ’88 Winter Olympics to compete and make his mark on sports history.

You should rent it? The story is true, but the film trades facts for the desire to channel the 1980s. It’s not a spoof, but elements like the poppy synth score, elder official with a stick up his behind, and sneering and sculpted competitors give a punchy, dated feel as it aims for laughs and heart in equal measure. Neither overwhelm, but they’re both here. Egerton is game for the goofiness and shows some comedic chops, similar to Kingsmen. Jackman nails the role of mentor though with the strut and presence of a movie star and earns more than a few laughs of his own. It’s as slight as they come, but enough laughs, charm, and inspirational energy exists to make it a fun if slightly forgettable watch.

10 Cloverfield Lane (2016)

Two months ago, no one knew that 10 Cloverfield Lane existed, let alone was about to be wide released in theaters. One month ago, no one had any idea how, if at all, this film was related to the 2008 film Cloverfield except for the obvious title and the fact that J.J. Abrams’ name was tied to the project. Not sure how Abrams had time with Star Wars: The Force Awakens to hide this project from the world, but I’m glad he did.

One of the greatest things 10 Cloverfield Lane has to offer is that the audience really has no idea what to expect going into the film. Very much in the J.J Abrams way, the production for this film has been left completely under-wraps and the trailers have revealed next to nothing. That’s one of the best parts of the movie, so I’m not going to spoil or give anything away in my synopsis or the review. I won’t even tell you if this movie is indeed a Cloverfield sequel or if it’s something different altogether. You’ll have to find out for yourself. But I will say that it is worth checking out whether or not you have any knowledge of Cloverfield. It only cost a measly 15 million to make this film and it nearly doubled that on its opening night. It’s a good film all by itself. It won’t win any Oscars, but it was compelling and fun.

10cloverfieldlane2

A woman we know very little about named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) is involved in a car crash in a breath taking opening credit sequence. She wakes up a few days later to find herself in an underground bunker with Howard (John Goodman), a large and crazy-eyed farmer standing above her. He tells her that she can’t leave, because some sort of disaster has happened and it’s not safe to go outside. Finding herself alone with Howard and another man named Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), and I’m stealing their tag line here because it’s a dang good tag line, they find out that monsters come in many forms.

10cloverfiledlane4

Obviously, I had no idea to expect when I saw 10 Cloverfield Lane. No one did. But within the first five minutes they set the tone so you know what kind of movie they are going for, and I found myself instantly engaged. For the rest of the film, I was floored with what was going on. In his directorial debut, Dan Trachtenberg takes the reigns on creating a film that will hit you with the unexpected, and leave you shocked.

10cloverfieldlane5

The best word I could think of to describe this film while I was watching it was claustrophobic. Trapped with Michelle inside the bunker, they create such an intense and nervous atmosphere that you feel yourself getting antsy along with the characters. Because for almost the whole film, we don’t really know what’s going on. We know what Howard is telling us and leading us to believe, but we have no idea if that’s reliable or not. We discover things along with the characters, which is why this film is such a good build up. When the conclusion to the film finally comes, you will leave more than satisfied. But don’t ruin it for yourself by looking up online spoilers to see if it is a Cloverfield sequel. See the movie. Find out for yourself. It’s worth it.

10cloverfieldlane1

The stand-out performance of the film is John Goodman. He is in so many films every year that we sometimes take him for granted and forget how good of an actor he can be when he’s not mailing it in, but rather commits whole heartedly to a role. That’s what happens here. He could have easily over-cooked his performance where it came of as cartoony or unrealistic, but he hit just the right level of disturbing and off-putting where you are crept out by the guy but you can’t be sure if he’s in the right or wrong. It’s a performance similar to Joel Edgerton’s in The Gift.

10cloverfieldlane3

At no point of 10 Cloverfield Lane does the film slow down or lose interest. It uses it’s hour and forty five minute runtime (a surprisingly long one for this type of film) to achieve the best possible effects. The film flies by and I found myself never wanting it to be over.

10 Cloverfield Lane is a movie you should see without being tainted by spoilers. Accept that you know nothing about it going in, and enjoy that experience. Because it’s something that doesn’t happen often and it’s a rare gift when it does. 10 Cloverfield Lane has a lot to offer despite the fact that it’s a very small film. So if it is still playing near you, go see it this weekend. Don’t look for other trailers or read other reviews. Just go, then come back here and tell me what you thought.

Monsters Inc. (2001)

I’m not very good at this whole “watch a movie a week and write a review on it” thing. I easily watch 3-5 movies a week, but the problem is, I would much rather watch another movie than write a review. Especially when it’s a movie like the one that is on the slate for today. But alas, I made a commitment and so I’m gonna keep it.

20110327-173353.jpgThe most difficult part of writing a review for Monster’s Inc. Is that it is an animated film and we tend to treat these movies simply for their entertainment value for kids. But I think that animated films can have great value apart from mindless entertainment. And that is the area in which Pixar films in recent years have excelled above their peers in the animation business.

Everybody is doing computer animation, but the thing that elevates Pixar’s films and recently some of Dreamworks’ offerings (Flushed Away (really, it’s actually pretty good), Kung Fu Panda, How To Train Your Dragon, and Megamind) is the story. It’s not just about hyper-realistic imagery and the creation of a fully submersible world. Those are all pointless if you don’t have a story with characters in which the audience of both children and adults will invest their emotions.

20110327-173258.jpgMonster’s Inc. at its core is the inversion of a horror film. Normally, kids are wetting their beds at the idea that monsters live in their closets and are going to come out to scare them. Monsters Inc. simply admits this epidemic of home invasion as fact and then goes inside the closet to tell the story from the monsters point of view. It turns out that monsters don’t particularly enjoy scaring children, it is simply their job. Monstropolis (the Narnia on the other end of these impressionable children’s wardrobes) runs on the screams of children. But because human children are flooded with violent movies and television shows at increasingly younger ages, they are getting harder to scare and consequently Monstropolis has a scream shortage.

It seems to me that most animation studios would have been content to leave the story there then throw in a lot of cultural references to make the movie funnier. But Pixar understands the value of irony and as it turns out in this universe, these monsters know just as little about us as we know about them, and that makes monsters deathly afraid of human children.

20110327-173112.jpgAdd to that two of the most likable characters in all of Pixar’s movies, second only to Woody and Buzz, and you’ve got a movie that went toe-to-toe with Shrek, and by all counts lost that battle. But I would invite you to rematch both films and decide for yourself which has aged better. I think that Monsters Inc. could do equally well today, but I’m not sure I could say that about Shrek.

Essentially Monsters Inc. is a great buddy comedy. On one side you have the purple spotted horned Bear-cat named Sully. He looks ferocious which makes him great at his job, but in reality, he is just a big softie. John Goodman did a good job voicing him as he is the most dynamic of the characters in the film. And playing the Laurel to his Hardy is the effervescent Billy Crystal placed in the body of a green volleyball with one giant eye and an even bigger mouth. They make an odd couple to be sure and lift what could have been a mediocre movie to Pixar gold.

20110327-173150.jpgAnymore, it is pointless to mention the superb animation that is present in these movies. But in its time, the computer animation rendering of every frame featuring Sully took 11 hours to complete because the movement of each of his 2,320,413 hairs. With a frame rate of 24 fps that is nearly a month of processor time to create a single second of footage.

This might not be the highest grossing or the best reviewed of any of the Pixar movies, but it is a solid and highly entertaining movie that I have confidence my kids will he showing their kids one day.