Two Reviews-The Quick and the Dead & Friday

Two  reviews for ya today.  Enjoy

The Quick and the Dead

I started watching this movie and the opening credits came up and I thought to myself “Whoa.  There’s a lot of people in this-Keith David, Lance Henrikson, young DeCaprio, Russel Crowe, and the motherfucking Hackman.  Right on.”  Then the movie got underway and I thought to myself “man, this movie is absurd” then I kept thinking about how absurd it was about every five or ten minutes until it was over.  I don’t consider myself a Sam Raimi expert.  However, this is the ninth movie of his that I’ve seen, so maybe I am qualified to call it his most Raimian.  (Y’know, like how people use “Lynchian” as a real word.)  That means it’s his most self-indulgent and stereotypical of what people expect from a Sam Raimi flick.  Are there a lot of zooms?  Hell yeah.  Are the actors’ performances suitably mega to fit the cartoonish plot?  Oh, hell yeah.  Is the supporting cast a bunch of colorful, outlandish cartoons? Hell. Yeah.  And what about those weird shots where it zooms in and out and the same time; are there a lot of those?  Man, I lost count after a while.  The movie is genuinely good as well, if a little on the goofy side.  (Nah, I’m just kiddin.  It’s pretty fuckin far on the goofy side.)

Most of the actors are good enough, but Hack-Man is the best thing on screen here.  He’s a good actor.  While guys like Dennis Hopper got really over-the-top in the 90s by doing mountains of cocaine (Super Mario Bros.) the Hackman manages to be absurd and ridiculous with the smallest of effort-a laugh her, a glare there.  Hack-Man’s got a subtlety to his hilarity.  Sharon Stone and Russell Crowe are bland and dull as the two straight-ish characters, but Hack-Man and Decaprio kick ass as the villain and his cocky son.  Good performances.  They’re two of the more outlandish characters, but also two of the most believable.

As a western, The Quick and the Dead verges into parody, but they pull it off.  The plot is barely there-Sharon Stone rides into town.  There is a gun dueling contest.  She wants to kill Gene Hackman for reasons that are actually pretty cool.  I imagine this is what a western by the anime companies that made crap like Naruto or DBZ would be like.  The tone’s similar to his shitty movie he made with The Coen Brothers-The XYZ Murders.  It’s a live action Looney Toon, but he’s got a bigger budget, and better actors, and about a decade or so of experience under his belt, so it’s a big improvement over that one. Also, it’s one of the few movies with shots like this-

Wacky!

Nobody’s trying really hard to make fun of westerns, they’re just trying to make fun, trying to be ridiculous.  None of the actors seem too self-conscious.  They play their characters like characters instead of caricatures.  Russell Crowe might be taking the comedic route, but he’s so incapable of being funny it seems unlikely.  Hack-Man and company are just flexing their acting chops, but a combination of great shots and great acting save what could’ve been the Jason Statham joint of its time.

Well shit, maybe this is the Jason Statham joint of its time?  You’ve got the ridiculous story, the cartoony effects and physics and the dull lead who’s not in many good movies. (Sharon Stone.)  However, you’ve also got competent direction and a supporting cast instead of a bunch of shitty stereotypes.  I haven’t seen any of The Transporters, but I can say with confidence that this movie is infinitely better than Crank.

Friday

Ah man.  This was a tough movie to watch.  Not cause it was bad, I just really, really, really wanted to be there hanging out on the porch with Ice Cube and Chris Tucker.  Friday is about Ice Cube and Chris Tucker sitting on the porch, and sometimes going inside the house or next door or across the street.  Also, they do take a trip to (spoiler) the convenience store. (end spoiler)  So, as you can see, it’s pretty thrilling.  Apart from the convenience store detour, the entire movie takes place on the same block, usually not going farther than Ice Cube’s line-of-sight.  I’ve had a rough relationship with movies where nothing happens, for every The Conversation, there’s a Limits of Control.  For every Slacker, there’s a Waking Life.  For every Hiroshima Mon Amour, there’s a Mon Uncle.  Friday falls into the first half, I’m happy to say.  The jokes aren’t always the greatest, but the characters are likable-they drink 40’s and Kool Aid, not 8$ fruit smoothies, is what I’m saying.

Ice Cube plays Craig, who just lost his job for stealing boxes.  He claims it wasn’t him, but nobody (including himself) seems to really give a shit.  His dad (John Witherspoon) wants him to go find a new job, but instead he’s gonna sit on the porch and get high and talk about girls with Smokey (Chris Tucker.)  Smokey’s a small time drug dealer who smokes half the product that his boss, Big Worm, supplies him with.  So, as you can see, the shit will eventually get real.  I think this could be a requirement of all Ice Cube movies.  “Guys, I’m not gonna be in it unless shit gets real in the third act.”  That was his way of keeping his urban edge when he started acting.  He needed people to know what it was like living with Ice Cube-At the end of the day, you get shot at, and then you fight somebody.

At its best, the movie just feels like you’re hanging out on the porch with Craig, listening to Smokey’s dumb stories.  This could be the movie’s biggest flaw if being Ice Cube’s pal aint your thing, but I was into it.  It’s a very relaxed flick.  I want this thing on VHS.

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