Tag Archives: Ving Rhames

The Set of 400: #4 – My Favorite $5 Milkshake

Today! Because personality goes a long way –

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Directed by Quentin Tarantino (x6)

Starring John Travolta (x3), Samuel L. Jackson (x13), Uma Thurman (x2), Bruce Willis (x6), Christopher Walken (x4), Harvey Keitel (x5), Eric Stoltz, Tim Roth (x2), Amanda Plummer (x2), Ving Rhames (x4), Frank Whaley (x3), Steve Buscemi (x5), Roseanna Arquette, Maria de Medeiros, Phil LaMarr, Angela Jones, Quentin Tarantino (x3), Julia Sweeney (x2), Kathy Griffin (x2), Paul Calderon (x2), Bronagh Gallagher, Peter Greene, Duane Whitaker

As I’ve stated numerous times, I didn’t really discover good movies existed until roughly 1992. Up until that point, what Leonard Maltin said was about the only barometer I had – we didn’t have Twitter reactions or Rotten Tomatoes, Cinemascore or IMDB rankings, Metacritic or the late, great Epinions. It was The Scranton Times movie reviews – culled from other newspapers, largely, as I recall, and Siskel & Ebert at the Movies, when I could remember to catch it. But come 1992, it appears my parents gave up on restricting us from R rated films, and by early 1993 I had subscribed to the magazine love of my life – Entertainment Weekly. No joke! It wasn’t the glossy, People-esque nonsense that appears on newsstands today! Or maybe it was, and I just wasn’t discerning. But these events coupled together quickly advanced movie appreciation for young Joey Joe Joseph. And the pinnacle of this was the glorious 1994 movie calendar – one of the best years in film history, featuring the most transformative film of the generation, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction.

Anyone who lived through the era and doesn’t agree with the above statement is not to be trusted. Disregard their opinions at your leisure.

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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: #244 – My Favorite Sandstorm

Today! Because our media is no more truthful than yours, American –

Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol (2011)

Directed by Brad Bird

Starring Tom Cruise (x2), Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton, Michael Nyqvist, Anil Kapoor, Lea Seydoux, Josh Holloway, Ving Rhames (x2), Tom Wilkinson

The second, last, and best film in the series on this list, Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol resurrected the brand from virtual extinction after the solid but underperforming third entry in 2006. Really, the only film in the group that sucks in any major way (to quote, I don’t know, Pauline Kael, probably) is II, which was super lousy. But once they worked out the formula (“It’s like the Fast and the Furious movies, except in half the shape with twice the age!”), it has been running like the proverbial well oiled Tom Cruise ever since. These last three movies – Ghost Protocol, Rogue Nation, and Fallout – are largely interchangeable in quality and action, not unlike James Bond movies of the ’70 or the ’90s, but the one that still features the two most memorable set pieces is this one here.

Jiminy!

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The Set of 400: #392 – My Favorite Drake Hotel, Chicago Plot Device

Today! Because you’ve never seen me very upset –

Mission: Impossible (1996)

Directed by Brian De Palma

Starring Tom Cruise, Jon Voight, Emmanuelle Beart, Ving Rhames, Jean Reno, Emilio Estevez, Kristin Scott Thomas, Vanessa Redgrave, Henry Czerny, Ingeborga Dapkunaite, John McLaughlin, Garrick Hagon

Ah, the glorious summer of 1996! While it was expected to be the big draw that season, and would only end up third behind ID4 and Twister, it proved to have the longest legs, cranking out sequels straight to the present day. And even though I think it’s fair to say the first one is no one’s choice for best film in the series, the De Palma outing does have a lot going for it. Because all the follow-ups would get helmed by action directors (I don’t care what else you might think of J.J. Abrams), this one stands out for the underlying suspense De Palma (at the end of his effectiveness as a director) brought to it, the first of many fake masks and double-crosses, and for that sequence where they break into Langley to steal the list. The effects may get bigger and wilder as the series goes on, but nothing will ever quite compare to panicky Cruise quietly dangling from a rope as Jean Reno kills that rat. Holy wow. Sure, the plot is convoluted nonsense, and some of the motivations are a bit fuzzy to say the least, but it’s still a pretty exciting running/jumping/punching flick. Continue reading

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