Tag Archives: Don Cheadle

The Set of 400: #23 – My Favorite Indoor Fireworks Display

Today! Because I think you have the job, but why don’t I make sure of something –

Boogie Nights (1997)

Directed by Paul Thomas Anderson (x5)

Starring Mark Wahlberg (x2), Burt Reynolds (x2), Julianne Moore (x4), John C. Reilly (x7), Don Cheadle (x4), Heather Graham (x4), Philip Seymour Hoffman (x8), William H. Macy (x3), Ricky Jay (x2), Melora Walters (x3), Nina Hartley, Nicole Ari Parker, Thomas Jane (x4), Alfred Molina (x4), Luis Guzman (x5), Philip Baker Hall (x7), Robert Ridgely (x6), Joanna Gleason (x2), Jack Wallace, Michael Jace (x2), Jack Riley (x5), Robert Downey Sr.

My favorite movie from one of my favorite years, Boogie Nights kicked off my multi-decade love affair with Paul Thomas Anderson films, nearly all of which landed on this list. Sarah, who is not exactly a PTA fan, has proclaimed that his most recent film (as of this writing) Phantom Thread is the “only real movie I’ve ever seen.” Dissect that statement as you will! But it all began with what I would categorize as his most accessible, mainstream film, even if it is a period epic set in the porn industry.

The unceasing greatness of Rollergirl cannot be overstated

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The Set of 400: #172 – My Favorite Tussle

Today! Because this is the dumbest fucking shakedown in the history of shakedowns –

Out of Sight (1998)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh (x2)

Starring George Clooney (x3), Jennifer Lopez, Ving Rhames (x3), Don Cheadle (x3), Albert Brooks (x4), Dennis Farina, Nancy Allen (x2), Michael Keaton (x5), Steve Zahn, Catherine Keener (x3), Luis Guzman (x4), Connie Sawyer, James Black, Viola Davis, Paul Calderon, Samuel L. Jackson (x4), Isaiah Washington, Keith Loneker

All of the sleek cool on display in #249 Ocean’s Eleven is directly attributable to Soderbergh’s work on Out of Sight – one of the great unacknowledged sequels of all time. There is again a heist at the center of the film, but it unfolds in a completely different way. Where Ocean’s is pretty straightforward, with only some narrative somersaults at the end to heighten the impact of the caper itself, Out of Sight flips in and out of the linear tale, explaining the characters prior interactions in prison (virtually all the guys were in prison at some point), and how and why this grand Detroit house robbery came about.

The cast is first rate across the board, but none more so than Jennifer Lopez as Marshal Karen Sisco, kidnapped while Clooney’s Jack breaks out of jail, plunging them both in the trunk of the getaway car, where the hot, sweaty romance begins to blossom. Ridiculous, right? But it totally works, in that marvelous Elmore Leonard way. I want to emphasize how good Lopez is here, because I don’t think she will ever really get the credit she deserves as an actress. As time went by, she did more and more romantic comedies and middling TV shows, but her career’s start – with Selena and Out of Sight and…Anaconda – signaled her as a major talent, capable of a lot more than she’s done. Sure, her music career always came first, and those Affleck films sure didn’t help things, but I always hoped she’d get back to some great character work. Not too late, JLo!

No reason to get blue about it!

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The Set of 400: #249 – My Favorite Prison Tuxedo

Today! Because you can’t have six cards in a five card game –

Ocean’s Eleven (2001)

Directed by Steven Soderbergh

Starring George Clooney (x2), Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Julia Roberts, Andy Garcia (x2), Elliott Gould (x2), Casey Affleck, Scott Caan, Carl Reiner (x3), Bernie Mac, Shaobo Qin, Eddie Jemison, Don Cheadle (x2), Topher Grace, Joshua Jackson (x2)

A remake so much better than the original that it’s almost unfair to mention its existence, 2001’s Ocean’s Eleven was the movie that I think everyone assumed Steven Soderbergh could make, but never would. Sure, Out of Sight hits largely the same tone, and with Clooney, too, but it isn’t quite the bustling movie star popcorn extravaganza that this film is. But while in some cases I’ve advocated that a filmmaker winning an Oscar was detrimental to society as a whole – Spielberg’s four year hiatus after Schindler’s List, James Cameron’s everything after Titanic, etc. – Soderbergh’s win for Traffic may have actually freed him up to make something more purely fun, purely Hollywood than we would’ve expected.

And boy did it deliver. Yes, the sequels were underwhelming and unnecessary, straight through to last year’s okay-if-beating-a-dead-mare Ocean’s 8, but the first movie is a dazzling gem of subterfuge and sleight of hand. From Danny Ocean’s first appearance, getting out of jail in a full on tuxedo, this movie is chocked full of style, attitude, and more than a little winking-at-itself humor that totally works. Sure, with a cast this large and accomplished, it’s bound to feel like some folks got a little wasted through lack of use, but they do manage to give everybody just enough character bits and snappy lines to satisfy – for the most part. Continue reading

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The Set of 400: #265 – My Favorite Dora the Explorer Wristwatch

Today! Because I build neat stuff, got a great girl, occasionally save the world –

Iron Man 3 (2013)

Directed by Shane Black

Starring Robert Downey Jr. (x4), Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley (x2), Guy Pearce (x2), Don Cheadle, Jon Favreau (x3), Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, Paul Bettany, William Sadler, Miguel Ferrer, Dale Dickey, Stephanie Szostak, Mark Ruffalo (x2), Ty Simpkins

While there are probably more superhero movies on this list than one can be proud of, there isn’t a ton from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Most of the better ones simply aren’t eligible yet – even then, I’ve got some issues with the general overall direction of things, as I assume some people do these days. No? Just me?

The highlight of the series for me, still, are the Iron Man films, and basically the Iron Man/Tony Stark character. Thor took a long time to get interesting, Captain America has had good movies but by himself is just okay, The Hulk is great in short bursts but there’s a reason they haven’t tried a third big screen iteration yet – no, Tony Stark is the whole reason any of this works. It’s the deciding factor in choosing The Avengers over Justice League, very generally. (In fairness, I didn’t love Infinity War, and as of this writing none of that has been resolved. But I’m not watching DC movies anymore either, except the Wonder Womans I guess.)

Like, come on, when there’s another Spider-Man sequel already scheduled, I’m not all that upset about his “death”

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