Category Archives: Best Supporting Actor

The Untouchables (1987)

I want you to get this fuck where he breathes! I want you to find this nancy-boy Eliot Ness, I want him DEAD! I want his family DEAD! I want his house burned to the GROUND! I wanna go there in the middle of the night and I wanna PISS ON HIS ASHES.

— Al Capone

I was so excited that The Untouchables was being shown on BBC America over the weekend. I have not seen the film in a while. Distance makes the heart grow fonder. This is the movie that brought Sean Connery the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. Some people think that Brian De Palma is a hack director, but you cannot tell that the shootout in the train station was not an exercise of tension, suspense and keeping the audience at the edge of their seats.

The Untouchables is the big screen version of the 1950s television series that explored the adventures of Special Agent of the Treasury Department, Detective Eliot Ness (Kevin Costner) abiding by the laws that he swore to uphold.

He has trouble doing this because 1930s Los Angeles is filled with corruption, violence and murder. The main culprit is the notorious gangster Al Capone (Robert De Niro) that has the police department and the judicial system on his payroll. Ness believes that he has the intel on a shipment of Canadian whiskey ordered by Capone. It turns out to be a ruse and Ness has egg on his face.

Ostracized at the force, Ness has a chances meeting with a beat cop named Jim Malone (Connery) who turns out to be a mentor to him. Ness wants to form a new task force with some unlikely characters like a mousey accountant that was hired to look into Capone’s books, Oscar Wallace (Charles Martin Smith) or a fresh recruit that has a dead on shot, George Stone (Andy Garcia). They form the titular team.

They begin to taken down Al Capone’s liquor hideouts. Capone is not happy and wants to make Ness’ life a living hell.

I am a sucker for period action films with gangsters, liquor and tommy guns.

Judgment: This movie is perfect for me. I think this is a guy film like The Shawshank Redemption and Fight Club.

Rating: 8/10

The Fighter (2010)

I have known about The Fighter for  some time now. It was originally supposed to be Darren Aronofsky next movie, but it kept getting delayed in the process. He did The Wrestler and felt that this movie would be too similar so he passed the baton to David O. Russell. It has got a lot of buzz this award season. It deserves it.

This is the true life story of Lowell, Massachusetts residents Mickey Ward (Mark Wahlberg) and his older half-brother, Dicky Eklund (Christian Bale) circa 1993. Dicky has a HBO documentary crew follow him around for his comeback to the boxing ring where he shined as knocking out Sugar Ray Leonard, who appears as himself in the film.

Seeing that his time has passed, Dicky trains Mickey to make more goals than he ever did in his career. His decades long crack problem had him wasting away his body, hair, and mind. Their mother, Alice (Melissa Leo) is trying to keep the family together by acting as Mickey’s trainer. Dicky’s crack problem is hampering Mickey’s training and everybody sees that, except for Alice.

Mickey meets a feisty bartender after a night drinking named Charlene (Amy Adams). They begin to have a courtship when a fate steps in. Mickey would supposed to fight one opponent that is in his weight class, but his opponent caught the flu and will not be able to box. Another opponent steps up who is twenty pounds heavier than Mickey. (If you expect me to believe that Mark Wahlberg weighed 145 lbs, you are nuts. I am 160 lbs and I hit like a girl.) He takes the match so the family could get paid. He gets his ass handed to him.

Embarrassed by the loss, Mickey doesn’t want to talk to anybody in his life. Not until a rival manager would train Mickey in Las Vegas so he could have a chance to have a great career ahead of him. Mickey has a tough decision to make about choosing between his family and his career.

The movie overall was a very good exercise in establishing the dynamics between duty and pride, acceptance and being ostracized.

The story gets under your skin and wants warm your heart. It does has its faults. The main problem with this movie is the lead actor. Wahlberg has been training for this part for roughly five years and I was not rooting for him to succeed. He didn’t have the nuance, the charisma to make me be on his corner. Lastly, another down point is the fight sequences in the general were overly rehearsed. It did not feel like that they were hitting each other in the ring. It was like a choreographed dance.

Judgment: This movie is like a sucker punch to the gut.

Rating: ****1/2

1001 Movie Club: The Last Picture Show (1971)

Stephen Jay Schneider chose this movie as one of the “1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die.” He compiled a massive list from the classic to the obscure for his anthology. The most worthy movies are chosen to be on this list. Every year, there is a revision to include the most essential movies to be on the minds of film buffs everywhere.

I personally picked The Last Picture Show as one of the selections on the 1001 Movie Club for this month. I don’t know why. I guess I have a love of Cloris Leachman and that Jeff Bridges in getting so much Oscar attention now that I would go back to the beginning of his career where he received an Oscar nomination with this movie. It was nominated for nine Oscars and won two Supporting Oscars for Ben Johnson and Cloris Leachman. People might not get into a story about a small town, but I kinda did.

Based on the book by Larry McMurtry, the movie is set in the small town of Anarene, Texas in the early 1950s, taking a look at the year in the lives of the inhabitants this particular town. You might think that nothing happens in the town, but the small actions can be the newest town gossip.

The movie lays out the coming of age story of the meek Sonny Crawford (Timothy Buttons) and his life long friend with the gruff Duane Jackson (Jeff Bridges). They both are captains of the Sonny is in a relationship with the pudgy Charlene (Susan Taggart) that he doesn’t love, but he is in love with Duane’s girlfriend, the privileged Jacy Farrow (Cybill Shepard). On their anniversary, Sonny breaks up with Charlene.

Jacy’s mother, Lois (Ellen Burstyn) wonders why Jacy could associate herself with a roughneck that is not suitable. Jacy rebels against her mother to spend more time with Duane. Sonny’s gym teacher, Mr. Popper (Bill Thurman) asks him to be a driver for his wife, Ruth (Cloris Leachman) to her various appointments to the local clinic in favor to skip out his civics class. He takes Ruth to her appointment and they have a connection.

At town social, Sonny and Ruth begin to start an illicit affair. Duane lets his feelings known to JAcy, who doesn’t love him leaves with another privileged kid, Lester Marlow (Randy Quaid) to naked pool party about Bobby Sheen’s (Gary Brockette) house. Jacy is infatuated with Bobby, but he cannot have sex with her until after she loses her virginity. Jacy is on a quest to break her hymen quickly.

Sonny has run-ins with the locals like waitress, Genevieve (Eileen Brennan), Silent Billy (Sam Buttons) who is the son of Sam the Lion (Ben Johnson) who owns the pool hall the youth hangs out at, the movie theater and diner that Sonny frequents.

Before the two buddies graduate and go off their separate ways, Sonny and Duane take a overnight trip to Mexico and back. When they come back, they realized that their world is crumbling down before them when there is a sudden death in their absence.

These people are stuck in a different time and place. When you are bored, you would do stupid, dangerous things. Have some sort of excitement in their ho-hum little lives. The crazy shit I’ve ever done with when I was bored out of my mind. I understood why the people did what they did. It might be morally wrong in a conservative, but they need to have some excitement in their lives. I don’t blame them.

1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die

1001 Movie Club Approved

Judgment: This is an accurate portrait of small town life.

Rating: ***1/2

Unforgiven (1992)

unforgiven_ver2

I’ve killed women and children. I’ve killed everything that walks or crawls at one time or another. And I’m here to kill you, Little Bill, for what you done to Ned.

— William Munny

I can cross Unforgiven from my list of great movies that I have never seen. Touted as Clint Eastwood’s final western the movie went on to win a four Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Director for Eastwood and Best Supporting Actor for Gene Hackman. As many of you know that I am not a big fan of westerns, but this one is different. The #110 movie of All Time on IMDb, this movie transcends the traditional template of a western.

The crux of the movie is about a dispute in Wyoming between a cowboy Quick Mike (David Mucci) cutting the face of a prostitute, Delilah (Anna Levine) who questioned the size of his manhood when they were trying to have sex. His partner Davey Bunting (Rob Campbell) comes into the room and takes part in the brutal slashing.

Little Bill (Gene Hackman), the sheriff of Big Whiskey wants to give the boys a couple of lashings with a whip, but the girls wanted them to receive a worse punishment. Little Bill lets the boys go by just taking half of their horses as their punishment.

Seeking justice, the lead madame, Strawberry Alice (Frances Fisher) and the rest of the girls gather all of their money together– a thousand dollars– as reward for any gunslinger that would gun down.

The news travel throughout the land when The Schofield Kid (Jaimz Woolvett) seeks out retired gunslinger from Kansas, William Munny (Eastwood) to join him in killing the cowboys. He changed his ways from the drink, the cussing and the killing. He hasn’t picked up a gun in over a decade and doesn’t know if he could get back in the saddle.

Eventually, William takes him up on his offer. Along the way, William recruits his friend and another former gunslinger, Ned Logan (Morgan Freeman). Going on the way to Big Whiskey, the trio realizes some truths about themselves.

Meanwhile in Big Whiskey, a known marksman, English Bob (Richard Harris), known for killing Chinamen moseys onto the town with his biographer W.W. Beauchamp (Saul Rubinek). He is met with some resistance by Little Bill and the lawmen.

There is an ordinance says that all outlaws must surrender their weapons. Little Bill doesn’t want to be cut down by an assassin’s bullet in his town. He becomes more paranoid that another marksman is going to turn his town into a shooting gallery.

This quiet film might not sit well with rough and tough, shoot ‘em up kind of viewer. I thought this was subdued brilliance. The shadows filled the scenes in dark bars or dimly lit rooms like a film noir. You get the sense of authenticity when see this film.

The themes of regret and redemption interwoven throughout the movie with William going back to life of being a criminal after her has made a promise to his dead wife or the way that The Schofield Kid reacted towards the end of the movie about killing a man.

Judgment: A fascinating portrait of gunslingers way past their prime in the Old West.

Rating: *****

Inglourious Basterds (2009)

inglourious_basterds_ver9You probably heard we ain’t in the prisoner-takin’ business; we in the killin’ Nazi business. And cousin, Business is a-boomin’.

— Lt. Aldo Raine

Quentin Tarantino’s latest film, Inglourious Basterds is an homage of spaghetti westerns, film noir and subversive movies about massacring a bunch of Nazis in the past couple of decades. It is currently #192 on the Top 250 of All Time on IMDb. It was a good movie, but I had some problems with it that I will discuss in the spoiler section.

Breaking from his formula of a broken narrative, letting the audience put the pieces back together. This is a tale a group of people that want to destroy the Third Reich, thus ending WWII.

It starts when Shosanna Dreyfus’s (Mélanie Laurent) family is massacred by Col. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) and his crew of SS soldiers. She escapes extermination through the French countryside. She assumes a different identity as Emmanuelle Mimieux, an owner of a French cinema house.

One night, she is visited by an SS soldiers named Frederich Zoller (Daniel Brühl) that is taken with her. She tries to reject his advances. She finds out that he has become a German hero by killing over 250 Allied soldiers. He has a propaganda film made about him called Nations Pride.

Frederich wants to have the premiere of the movie to be at her cinema house. Shosanna has some ulterior motives about the premiere night with her boyfriend, Marcel (Jacky Ido).

Simultaneously, the “Inglorious Basterds” headed by Lt. Aldo “The Apache” Raine (Brad Pitt) with eight other Jew vigilantes like Sgt. Donnie Donowitz (Eli Roth), Pfc. Smithson Utivich (BJ Novak), Cpl. Wilhelm Wicki (Gedeon Burkhard), Pfc. Omar Ulmer (Omar Doom) and last but not least, Sgt. Hugo Stiglitz (Til Schweiger) have struck fear to the Third Reich with killing their forces and scalping them.

British officer Lt. Archie Hicox (Micheak Fassbender) has to the team up with the basterds along with double agent, German actress Bridget von Hammersmark (Diane Kruger) to infiltrate the premiere and destroy the highest ranking officers of the Third Reich including Hitler.

This movie is made for cinema freaks. The primarily deals with people that love movies, the climax takes place in a theater. There were some obvious winks to audience.

It was more subdued than his other films. The performances were good across the board with a special mention to Christoph Waltz and Mélanie Laurent. I thought they were terrific in the film.

There were some problems with the pacing of the film. The dialogue dragged on for a long time. A few trims could have tighten up the suspense.

Judgment: It’s not a masterpiece, but a good film all around.

Rating: ****1/2

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Million Dollar Baby (2004)

million_dollar_baby

“Anybody can lose one fight, anybody can lose once, you’ll come back from this you’ll be champion of the world.”

— Scrap

It has been five years since I saw Clint Eastwood’s Million Dollar Baby in theater when it was on the shortlist to clench the Oscar for Best Picture. I thought that I might see this movie again to see if I had the same reaction I did then.

The movie won four including, Best Picture, Best Director: Clint Eastwood, Best Actress: Hilary Swank and Best Supporting Actor: Morgan Freeman. It currently #144 of all time on IMDB. This was my top favorite film of 2004.

The movie deals with an aging trainer/manager, Frankie Dunn (Eastwood) that loses his best male boxer, Big Willie (Mike Coulter) to a rival manager, Mickey Mack (Bruce MacVittie) in order for his to get a title shot.

Dunn runs the gym with a retired half-blind fighter, Scrap (Morgan Freeman). They deal with crazy characters like the scrawny featherweight, Danger (Jay Baruchel) who wants to be beat a welterweight champion of the world that retired years before. Also, there is Shawrelle (Anthony Mackie), a cocky boxer that could knock you out with a left hook, but he is unfocused.

An amateur boxer, Maggie Fitzgerald (Swank) wants to be trained by Frankie, but he doesn’t train girls. She works as waitress and she is almost penniless. She struggles to support herself and her family.

After Dunn’s repeated attempts to drive her away, her stubbornness and tenacity breaks Frankie down until he takes her on.

As she begins to gain experience, she becomes overly-confident with fame and fortune that unexpected incident happens that changes her life forever.

I still have to same feelings as I did five years ago. I still think that Maggie was get to cocky for me to root for her. The characters in this movie had too much pride with a particular thing and they have to be brought down a peg.

As in any Eastwood film, Catholicism is front and center in story. Dunn tries to reconnect with her estranged daughter, Katie, who we never get to see. He goes to mass everyday to harass Father Horvak (Brían F. O’Byrne) to atone for a sin that the audience doesn’t know about.

Judgment: If you haven’t seen this movie in a long time, I would suggest revisiting it.

Rating: ****1/2

All About Eve (1950)

Fasten your seat belts. It’s going to be a bumpy night!
— Margo Channing

Last night, I saw the number 75 of the top 250 IMDB films of all time, All About Eve. I heard Michael Vox from Cinebanter discussing this movie in his last five. He expressed his disappointment that the movie is too dated. I didn’t feel that way when I saw it. I enjoyed it.

This movie was nominated for fourteen Oscars back in 1950. That was a huge achievement until Titanic tied it in 1997.

The movie is about the rise of a young vindictive ingenue, Eve Harrington (Anne Baxter) that tries to usurp the theater career of Margo Channing (Bette Davis).

It begins at an award ceremony with a humorous voice over from Addington DeWitt (George Sanders), the conniving theater critic. He is sitting in the table with Margo, her best friend, Karen Richards (Celeste Holm), Karen’s playwright husband, Lloyd (Hugh Marlowe) and producer Max Fabian (Gregory Ratoff).

The action flashes back to a plain jane Eve being an assistant to theater diva Margo. Everybody around Margo thinks that Eve has ulterior motives, Addington and also the maid, Birdie (Thelma Ritter).

All of the main cast were nominated for Oscars; Bette, Anne, Celeste, Thelma Ritter, and George Sanders, who won.

Lastly, Marilyn Monroe appears in a small part as Miss Casswell, a naive young actress that was the date of Addington.

I don’t think that the movie is dated. The way that people’s acting careers are a polar opposite today with screen actors going to the stage to get some theater cred. I took this movie for what it is, a taut “how-catch-her” with witty dialogue and moments of cold shoulders and relative catty-ness.

My judgment: If you want to see a solid film about how actors were behaving in the late forties, seek out this movie.

My rating: *****

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