Today! Because the appearance of law must be upheld, especially while it’s being broken –
Gangs of New York (2002)
Directed by Martin Scorsese (x3)
Starring Daniel Day-Lewis (x2), Leonardo DiCaprio (x3), Cameron Diaz (x3), Brendan Gleeson, John C. Reilly (x6), Jim Broadbent (x2), Henry Thomas, Liam Neeson (x2), Eddie Marsan (x3), Stephen Graham, Gary Lewis, Lawrence Gillard Jr., Cara Seymour (x2), Tim Pigott-Smith (x2)
This movie was so close to being an unmitigated masterpiece that we as a people can only lament the missteps made in dragging it to completion. You have a terrific cast, a marvelous adaptation of a book without a real narrative, and Scorsese hell bent on winning an Oscar, in a year that wasn’t super competitive. Daniel Day-Lewis, not one to slum it, gives 110% percent and dominates the film as Bill the Butcher – a film, again, loaded with talent. He’s a colossus, an unholy terror, and while the film purports to be about the Vallons – father Priest and son Amsterdam – it ends up totally the story of the vicious Five Points ganglord. Continue reading
Today! Because she’s married to the muffin man –
Directed by Andrew Adamson & Vicky Jenson
Starring Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy (x3), Cameron Diaz (x2), John Lithgow (x3), Vincent Cassel, Kathleen Freeman (x2), Conrad Vernon, Chris Miller
Without looking it up, I couldn’t tell you for certain right this second whether there were three Shrek movies or four, not counting Puss in Boots. And look, the second movie was pretty solid as I recall, but I don’t remember what the hell the third one was about, or if the fourth movie even exists. Jeez, are there five Shrek movies? I just don’t remember.
I’ve never been one to dismiss animated movies as children’s fare, even endless sequels that seemingly only exist to generate cash. So when Shrek was released – and it was so different from everything that had come before – I thought it was groundbreaking, amazing hilarity. Okay, now, The Emperor’s New Groove actually was out the previous Christmas (as an animated, children’s, non-musical comedy), but I didn’t see that until much later. And sure, you had the South Park movie, but that didn’t really count, as it wasn’t aimed at kids at all. No, Shrek kinda became the template for animated movies from that point forward. And it’s great. Continue reading
Today! Because nobody’s looking for a puppeteer in today’s wintry economic climate –
Being John Malkovich (1999)
Directed by Spike Jonze
Starring John Cusack, Cameron Diaz, Catherine Keener (x2), John Malkovich (x2), Orson Bean, Mary Kay Place, Charlie Sheen (x2), Willie Garson (x5), W. Earl Brown (x2), Octavia Spencer (x2)
Featuring the greatest single performance where someone is credited playing himself, Being John Malkovich’s crazy premise could’ve easily overwhelmed the movie. Seriously, it feels like this film was one casting misstep away from Being Charlie Sheen, and who knows how it would’ve played out. Hey, maybe great – maybe that’s all Sheen would’ve needed to re-jumpstart the film career, never do Two and a Half Men, never have catastrophic public meltdowns, and would now be regarded as one of the pillars of the acting community. Instead, he starred in a sitcom on FX for a few years and lost his damn mind. This is all speculation about what could’ve been, of course.
By all indications, it was Being John Malkovich the whole way across, and we are better for it as a people. Wildly creative, and surprisingly touching, this movie bends reality to the near breaking point while still grounding it in a believable-ish reality. Finding a door that leads into another person’s head! And making the decision that not only is it a famous actor’s head, but have them gamely play themselves and in such extraordinary fashion as to blur this 4th wall (5th wall?) and create something so indelibly new and unpredictable. Continue reading