Juliet, Naked and Mission Impossible

One of the wackier weeks I’ve had as a Floridian including computer hijack scammers, a move to a place I’d only been able to view twice, and a leaning into the old temptation of barking up the wrong trees.

In the midst of all that, I saw two films: Mission Impossible and Juliet, Naked. It was the worst of times and it was the best of times, respectively.

I wanted to like MI, as Tom Cruise, despite his regimented Scientology, is a good actor. But he phoned this in. Don’t be fooled by the B.O.A.T. (Best of all time) malarkey. This movie was ludicrous. Baby Driver had better and more engaging chase scenes. The two women in Cruise’s life (I guess three counting the blonde villainess) were bland, beyond their enticing accents. If you’re going to do bathos, at least add some more humor to the mix.

All fitting though considering my back story involved. Phoning it in would have been an excellent subtitle for the movie and my life.

Juliet, Naked on the other hand was an unexpected delight. I’m not a big Rose Byrne fan, but here she proves emotional range. Chris O’Dowd is a man I loved, then hated and am now respecting again. He also has a stilted Irish/Scottish reserve that is still capable of leaking enough emotion to be believed.

And Ethan (Hawke that is)…we all know, well maybe you don’t, that he holds a nearly McEnroesque stature in my cinematic life; from the glow he first showed in Dead Poets, to his anxiety ridden brotherhood in Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead, to his sweet charm in the trilogy of Before Sunrise, etc. Not to mention his profound turn as a pained minister in the recent Reformed (here visualize me in a prayer stance whispering: please give this man a nomination).

In Juliet, Naked, Hawke plays, well probably, Hawke, father to children by different baby mamas, a disheveled ‘artiste’ who goes around saying, aw schucks, did I f up my life again? Not that he’s been in that much ‘trouble’, but he appears to be just enough absent minded professor mixed with a lot of testosterone which we all know leads to stolen kisses and broken hearts. His turn here as a washed up rocker was perfection.

So let this be a lesson to you; be the water and not the grinder. Go with the flow rather than paddle upstream.

Calvary, the Saints Come Marching In

“Calvary” written and directed by John Michael McDonagh (The Guard, Ned Kelly) is definitely worth seeing. In fact, having just finished a screenwriting class, this could be the template given to future writers showing them the ropes:

~make your main character suffer and holy Job, does Brendan Gleeson’s character suffer
~have quirky unique minor characters and by Jove, are they quirky
~have an overarching theme that gets full coverage during the resolution, violins and all

A few of the quick snippets of reviews I’ve seen, brag about Mr. Gleeson’s acting range*. To that, I feel like sniping back, “You’re just seeing it now?”, Gleeson was fantastic in In Bruges. And ignore the critic who says, the movie can’t live up to the premise set in the first five minutes, because it did and will for you.

And would someone quick, get a biopic out about the late great Ray Bradbury because M. Emmet Walsh is the spitting image of him, coincidentally playing a cantankerous author in Calvary.

Last, I will say that Chris O’Dowd is the one who shows a new range*, a far cry from the cute puppy dog policeman in Bridesmaids.