Paris, Texas (1984) Film Review

After Travis (Harry Dean Stanton) appears in a bar in the middle of the desert after a long disappearance, his brother Walt (Dean Stockwell) takes him home. Walt has been raising Travis’s son, and Travis wants to make things right.

This is a beautiful, strange, terrible film. Awful characters who make no sense, who make shitty decisions and yet there is a real heart to it. I liked it, but I never want to see another film like this again. A slow film telling the story of a man with regrets who needs to destroy the lives of others to fix his mistakes. (I am also very aware that others would read this very differently).

Seven Psychopaths (2012) Film Review


Don’t ya just love going in to a film not knowing anything about it or anything to do with it? It is a total hit or miss, although I find that even a really bad film is better if it is unexpected. Seven Psychopaths was totally a hit.

From Martin McDonagh, writer and director of In Bruges, Seven Psychopaths is just that – a film about seven psychopathic people. Or more specifically, a film about Marty (Colin Farrell), an alcoholic screenplay writer who is trying to write his new film, titled Seven Psychopaths. As he does this, the relationship with his Australian lover, Kaya (Abbie Cornish) is struggling as he spends too much time with his actor friend Billy (Sam Rockwell). Then things get complex.

There is so going on in the plot of this film that it is really difficult not to mention anything further without major spoilers. It is very violent, but very funny. Really and truly laugh out loud funny. The dialogue is extremely amusing (comparable to the wit of Reservoir Dogs, only less like a stand-up comedy routine, and more like conversations that real, witty people might have.

For me, the film was carried by Sam Rockwell, although I have to mention the performances of Woody Harrelson and Christopher Walken. Harrelson is so strong and funny, and Walken is magnificently understated.  Harry Dean Stanton and Tom Waits and I’m pretty happy. As long as you don’t mind a bit of violence (including some very hilarious violence), get out and see this film.

Big Love – TV Review



Mormons are crazy. No, that’s not strictly true; I think most religion is pretty crazy in one way or another. If you read Under The Banner of Heaven by Jon Krakauer you can see some of the craziness that led to the formation of this religion. But essentially, it’s not that much crazier that most religions. One of the big issues that a lot of non-Mormons have with this religion is the whole polygamous marriage concept. Most branches of Mormonism do not approve of multiple marriages, but if we cannot laugh at the crazy man with many wives, what’s the point?

Big Love looks at several aspects of Mormon life in Utah. One is the main family; Bill Henrickson(Bill Paxton) has three wives, Barb (Jeanne Tripplehorn), Nicolette (Chloe Sevigny) and Margene(Ginnifer Goodwin) and has children with them all. They live a quite mainstream existence – they have three separate houses with a communal backyard area. Most people don’t know about their complicated relationship, not even the neighbours. But Bill also has to deal with his family back on the compound. These are the types of Mormons regularly featured on Jerry Springer and the like. You know, wearing prairie dresses and often one man has, like, twenty wives (often sisters, often very young) and a million children and they live off welfare. On the compound there is ‘the prophet’, Roman Grant (Harry Dean Stanton) who is out to destroy Bill.

It’s a very interesting show, but I lost steam for it somewhere around the third season. There have been five seasons made, but for me I don’t really care what happens from here.


The Green Mile (1999) Film Review


Jeez, that Stephen King can really write-up a storm, can’t he? He’s known for his horrors, like The Shining and It, but then you get the truly amazing, like Stand By Men, Shawshank Redemption and this, The Green Mile. These are his books and short stories; they make for great stories to be made into films.

The Green Mile is told as a flashback from a man in a nursing home, telling the story of his time as a guard on death row during the depression. In particular, of the time during which John Coffey, a large African-American man was brought in. Everyone was fearful of this giant, but there was a magic to the man, a magic that is gradually revealed to the guards.

I’ve recently been contemplating the old man/old woman flashback as a structure. Often, it doesn’t work. Halfway through The Green Mile, I wondered about this as a choice of structure, but it truly does pay off at the end. The film is slow-paced and long – over three hours long. But every minute counts.

The excellent plot is held together by strong performances;  Tom Hanks, David Morse and several others as the prison guards; the late Michael Clarke Duncan as John Coffey; James Cromwell as the Warden; and Graham Greene and Sam Rockwell as fellow prisoners.

I think this is a truly excellent film. Truly.

The Green Mile was nominated for Oscars for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Michael Clarke Duncan), Pest Picture, Best Sound and Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material Previously Produced or Published.

Private Benjamin (1980) Film Review


Only hours after socialite Judy (Goldie Hawn) marries for the second time, her husband passes away. Totally distraught and with no prospects or idea of what to do with her life, she in convinced by smooth talking 1st Sgt Jim Ballard (Harry Dean Stanton) to join the army. Once there, things are tough for Private Judy Benjamin, unused to physical labour or taking orders.

This is a Goldie Hawn classic, and there are a lot of reasons why. She’s very funny, but also her change from helpless-rich-girl to independent woman is pretty believable. What was a bit annoying was the not-quite-feminist-action going on. By this, I mean that the hard-ass female captain who trained and taunted the troops only to be unfairly dismissed after a fairly minor error in a training exercise then has a cruel joke played on her by the women of the troupe. Which could have been good had there been a greater sense that she deserved it. Instead, it just came across as an unnecessarily nasty against a woman trying to hold her own in the masculine world of the army. Also, the fact that Judy ends up posted in Paris due to sexual harassment and not for her own skills – why couldn’t she just have been competent?

It was 1980. Perhaps that’s why. Would it happen in a similar way now? I’d like to say no, but watch Legally Blonde from 2001. It seems that films are still discouraging women from taking appropriate action for harassment, instead using it to further their careers in some dubious manner. Oh, now I’m all angry and not liking the film nearly as much.

It was nominated for Academy Awards for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Goldie Hawn), Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Eileen Brennan, who played the training captain) and Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen. It currently sits at number 82 on the American Film Institute’s 100 Funniest Movies poll (although given there are no films after There’s Something About Mary from 1998, this may need a bit of an update).

Private Benjamin was nominated for Oscars for Best Actress in a Leading Role (Goldie Hawn), Best Actress in a Supporting Role and Best Screenplay, Screenplay Written for the Screen.