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The Big Easy (1987)

Just relax, darlin’. This is the Big Easy. Folks have a certain way o’ doin’ things down here.

— Remy McSwain

The Big Easy is probably one of my favorite Dennis Quaid movies. It’s not because the movie is great, but this is the sexiest role that he has ever been in. There is something alluring about this gorgeous man having that New Orléans accent that hypnotizes you. Quaid is from my hometown of Houston, Texas so I wanna keep up with my fellow Houstonian.

The Big Easy refers to New Orléans, Louisiana and Det. Remy McSwain (Quaid) is being plucked from his bed, snuggling with a stuffed crocodile to be the first to response to a murder. A man is found facedown in a fountain. McSwain’s boss, Captain Jack Kellom (Ned Beatty) tells him that it might the start of a gang war between the mob guys. They call them wiseguys.

Assistant District attorney Anne Osbourne (Ellen Barkin)  is assigned to the case, but she is also looking into the deep corruption in the police force. There are accusations of bribery, tapering with evidence, extortion and murder. Remy uses his charms to woo the bloodhounds from off their backs. He says that it’s the New Orléans way of doing things. Sometimes you have to bend the law to get the job done.

Anne tries not to fall for his charms, but he slowly lowers her defenses until she is ready to pounce. He pounces hard. She is reluctant to get involved with him, but the passion outweighs any code of ethics. Everything is fine, but Remy gets caught in a hairy situation that he might not get out of.

The movie is eye candy first. There is nothing deep and meaningful about this movie for me. There is a mystery element that was brushed to the side until the end of the movie. It felt like an afterthought. There were some points in the movie that I wanted to slap Anne to say that he is not good for you, girl. You gotta admit that he is sexy as hell.

Judgment: You get the chance to watch Dennis Quaid stripped down. Nuff said.

Rating: 6.5/10

The Special Relationship (2010)

I had a taped showing of The Special Relationship on the DVR for a couple of months before I had to delete it. I happened upon the flick when I was flipping through the channels. At first, I thought that the movie was about the relationship that landed Bill Clinton in hot water during the latter part of his second term. I forgot that the movie is about the relationship between Clinton and Prime Minister Tony Blair. Yeah! (Branden says sarcastically.)

Starting in 1996, the movie is about newly elected Prime Minister, Tony Blair (Michael Sheen) having a meeting with US President, Bill Clinton (Dennis Quaid). They want to join forces to advance a democratic, progressive way a country is run.

Screenwriter Peter Morgan tried to portray these two political factions from opposite sides of the ocean. It should the everyday lives of the Blairs and Clintons. Their relationship is tested when the Monica Lewinsky scandal reared its ugly head. Clinton thinks that the scandal would die down quickly, but it snowballed out of control.

Usually, I’m not keen on political movies. This movie proves that way of thinking. Does this story need to be told? I lived through that time of the country where the scandal was all on the minds of the media and the country. You would imagine that leaders of the country would be friendly with each other. I felt that I didn’t learn anything from the movie. Maybe the next generation could get some enjoyment out of it.

The only saving grace with this movie is Michael Sheen as Blair, because he has played him in The Queen and the British TV movie, The Deal. He knows the character inside and out. He was believable. Quaid on the other hand was a parody of Clinton. I enjoyed John Travolta’s Clinton-isms in Primary Colors than in this movie. Hope Davis as Hilary Clinton was bland. Nuff said.

Judgment: Skip this flick.

Rating: 3/10

Far From Heaven (2002)

Oh, Raymond, Mrs. Whitaker sounds so formal! Won’t you please… ask me to dance?

— Cathy Whitaker

Writer/director, Todd Haynes wanted to make an homage of the Douglas Dirk bedroom melodramas of the 1950s. He created Far From Heaven, which garnered Julianne Moore another Oscar nomination for Best Actress. It was also nominated for Best Original Screenplay, Best Cinematography and Best Original Score. This was my favorite film of 2002 and I still stand by it.

This story is about a typical American family on the surface. There is the breadwinner of this Connecticut family, Frank Whitaker (Dennis Quaid) who is one of the sales executives at a company called Magnatech. His wife, Cathy (Moore) is the perfect homemaker that reminds you of Donna Reed. She juggles her wifely duties as mother to David (Ryan Ward) and Janice (Lindsay Andretta). Cathy is assisted by her trusty housekeeper, Sybil (Viola Davis) who watches the kids when has an errand to run or plans a cocktail party with her friend, Eleanor (Patricia Clarkson).

During the night of one of Cathy’s planned soirees, she is pulled from attending when she receives a call to pick up her husband from the police station for an incident earlier in the evening. On the drive home, the audience realizes that there are cracks in the foundation of the Whitaker marriage. Cathy tries her best to be close to her husband, who brushes her off. She concludes that it is just stress from work.

A reporter from the Weekly Gazette, Mrs. Leacock (Bette Henritze) comes by the house to interview Cathy for the couple being named Mr. and Mrs. Magnatech 1957. Cathy’s attention is distracted when a strange man is lurking in her backyard. She goes to see Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), the son of their old gardener who recently passed away. He is their new gardener and they introduce each other.

Frank pulls himself away from his family by diving head first into a big project that he has to do for work, going to the movies or hanging out in back alley bars. Cathy is jealous that her girlfriends could be intimate with their husbands and hers barely shows her any affection.

During another late night working for Frank, Cathy decides to take his dinner over to his office. When she arrives, she is in for the shock of her life when she sees Frank kissing another man. She is devastated as her seemingly perfect life is crumbling down around her.

Can I say that I love this movie? I love this movie. I’m not familiar with the bedroom melodramas of Sirk’s, but this movie makes me want to visit those movies that inspired this one. Todd Hayes created a fantastic movie with the classic title sequence and end credit, the luscious cinematography, the marvelous score by Elmer Bernstein, Sandy Powell’s costumes, the vibrant colors and the type of film Hayes used. It feels authentic, like it was a lost movie from that time. The subjects addressed in this film would be too taboo for audiences to see.

I want to highlight Haynes words. His original script was very nuanced. No word felt out of place. Being delivered by these wonderful actors is something to marvel. Moore was radiant. She portrayed Cathy as a typical housewife, but she has progressive feelings for the Negroes or women’s rights. With Cathy’s world was crumbling around her, she put on a brave face covering her inner pain. Moore was subdued in her portrayal of Cathy that I was rooting for her to win the Oscar, but she was denied.

A special mention has to go Dennis Quaid who I thought was robbed for a nomination for Best Supporting Actor and I continue to talk about the egregious error to this day. He was so good playing a tortured husband torn between the way society wants him and how he is feeling on the inside.

Judgment: Bravo, Todd Haynes for creating this very skilful work for us to revel in.

Rating: *****

The Horsemen (2009)

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Four victims. Four painful secrets.

The Horsemen is a movie that I decided to see on a whim. It stars follow Houstonian Dennis Quaid in the lead role. This movie had a very limited release in early March. There was not that much talk about this movie. I can see why.

A recently widowed detective Aidan Breslin (Quaid) is called to a frozen lake where a set of extracted teeth are discovered.

Over the course of a couple of days, more disturbing and gruesome murders happens that leads him and his partner, Stingray (Clifton Collins, Jr.) a hideous plot dealing with the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.

The movie was an average crime thriller. It was like a poor man’s version of Criminal Minds. That’s not saying the much.

The family drama aspect with Aidan with his sons, Alex (Lou Taylor Pucci) and Sean (Liam James) was lame.

The ending was a huge WTF! It was like a slap in the face. That’s it. That’s the thrilling conclusion.

Judgment: A generic thriller that delivers more groans than gasps.

Rating: ***

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