Tag Archives: Adam Driver

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote (2018) Blu-Ray Review By D.M. Anderson

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote ReviewThe tumultuous production was even the subject of a feature-length documentary…in 2002.

Director: Terry Gilliam
Writers: Terry Gilliam, Tony Grisoni
Starring Adam Driver, Jonathan Pryce, Joana Ribeiro, Olga Kurylenjo, Stellan Skarsgard, Jordi Molia, Oscar Jaenada

The Man Who Killed Don Quixote was finally released in 2018, a minor miracle unto itself. Director Terry Gilliam had been trying to get the damn thing made for 25 years, only to be continually thwarted by development hell, false starts, budget problems, legal issues, natural disasters, cast changes and no-small-amount of his own obsessiveness. The tumultuous production was even the subject of a feature-length documentary…in 2002.

Though he kept busy making many films in the interim, Gilliam is probably glad to finally scratch this particular itch…if nothing else, just to spite everyone who turned his labor of love into a decades-long debacle. Some of you reading this might be asking if it was worth the all the trouble, which isn’t really a fair question. The Man Who Killed Don Quixote will probably never fully escape the shadow of its production history, and that’s a shame because – baggage notwithstanding – this is ultimately a very good film. Even great in parts.

It helps, of course, if the viewer is already in tune with Gilliam’s quirkier tendencies, since this modern day variation of Cervantes’ novel is a strange, surreal and often funny journey. Anyone familiar with the director is also aware he can be pretty self-indulgent, unconcerned whether or not others are on-board. Because of their unique aesthetic, narrative approach and abundance of dark humor, Terry Gilliam films could be considered their own little genre. Viewed in that context, this is his best work since 12 Monkeys.

That’s not to say The Man Who Killed Don Quixote isn’t without its issues, the main one being that it’s overlong. The story also gets off to a shaky start, with commercial director Tobi Grisoni (Adam Driver) embodying just about every burned-out-genius cliché we’ve ever seen. In fact, these early scenes don’t even feel like they belong in a Gilliam film. However, once Tobi visits the village where he once made a student film about Don Quixote, the film really takes off, both visually and narratively. He’s reacquainted with the elderly cobbler he cast in the lead (Jonathan Price), who has since become convinced he is Quixote and thinks Tobi is Sancho Panza. Several amusing circumstances have the two of them ending up on an episodic series of bizarre adventures, which eventually includes trying to rescue the young girl he once cast in the same film, Angelica (Joana Jaenada), now working as an escort working for a vicious Russian magnate.

That’s the nuts & bolts plot, but what makes it memorable is Gilliam’s penchant for blurring the line between fantasy and reality. Lavishly-produced, the film is alternately dark and whimsical, bolstered by interesting characters and some wonderful moments that unexpectedly transition into the surreal. Most importantly, the journey ends up being lot of fun, something this writer hasn’t been able to say about a Terry Gilliam film in a long time.

Ironically, for a movie with such a torrid past, this Blu-ray features no substantial bonus features covering its history. Perhaps that’s intentional, since enough has already been written and said about it. Besides, The Man Who Killed Don Quixote deserves to be enjoyed on its own merits. It may not rank among Terry Gilliam’s best work, but it’s a fine reminder that he’s got some juice left in the tank.

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Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017) Movie Review by John Walsh

THE LAST JEDI

Director: Rian Johnson
Writers: Rian Johnson, George Lucas (based on characters created by)
Stars: Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, Daisy Ridley, Adam Driver, John Boyega, Oscar Isaac, Andy Serkis, Domhnall Gleeson

Well it has to be said, its been two extremely quick years following the release of ‘The Force Awakens’ and now Rian Johnson’s take on the Star Wars saga is out in theatres. It would be fair to say that not everyone is a overly enamoured with his vision. There has been a very vocal minority of Star Wars fandom that have taken to aggressively bashing it; even going as far as creating bots to negatively impact the Rotten Tomatoes viewer score.

This doesn’t mean that every detractor of the film is doing this or is wrong to be airing their grievances. They aren’t. Films are a highly subjective matter at the best of times. Now, combine that with a much beloved franchise and characters that have been a part of pop culture for nigh on 40 years and you’ve got yourself a recipe for some heated disagreements.

But enough of that hysteria. What did I make of it all? Well, if you’ve been listening to our podcasts then we did actually do a review last week but laying out your thoughts mere hours after leaving the cinema can make for tricky business. Things can be missed. Hence why I’m doing a written version after another viewing in an attempt to do a more ‘in depth’ review.

First of all, I’ve been a Star Wars fan for as long as I can remember. I recall playing with a Sand People figure when I was about four or five years of age and being absolutely fascinated with that galaxy far, far away. My credentials in that department are undeniable, and as a complete nobody, I can’t be accused of being a Disney shill. I absolutely loved this film. It’s not good enough to trouble the original three but it’s a damn good film and I’m genuinely perplexed at the vitriol coming from some quarters.

It begs the question. Just what were people expecting? A three and half hour long film that answered every single theory just as they’d painstakingly thought out?

Rian Johnson has a reputation for going dark, for his excellent writing ability and for just being a great director period. He’s also been a Star Wars fan from the age of four. What better credentials could you ask for? And what he’s given us is a fabulously entertaining film, that develops the newer characters well, offers a satisfying progression for the older characters, but more importantly expands and shakes up a mythology and galaxy that quite frankly had become static and in danger of repeating itself ad infinitum.

He tied up the two major loose ends JJ left from ‘The Force Awakens’ and did it well. Was it exactly what I wanted? Nope. Did I enjoy the direction he took? Yup. Rey’s parents? Yeah, they were unimportant nobodies. She wasn’t a Skywalker but instead a naturally gifted random. Fair enough. Snoke? He wasn’t Darth Plagueis. He was just some bushy eyed, deformed looking weirdo with a frankly incredible connection to the force, that had a fetish for gold and was cut down in spectacular fashion.

Luke Skywalker is by far my favourite Star Wars character. His arc seems to be causing the biggest amount of anguish amongst the films detractors. Again, Rian Johnson did not go down the path I personally would have liked to have seen come to fruition. He didn’t cut down the Knights of Ren in an epic lightsaber battle, didn’t slap down Kylo and he didn’t even leave that bloody island. But man, did I enjoy Luke in this film. The way he takes his nephew to school at the end, playing on his clear penchant for impulsiveness was a joy to behold.

The sight of him walking out to face the might of the First Order was a standout moment. Everything about it was perfect. From ‘The Spark’ theme (Williams best in this film) to the visuals, it had my personal favourite wide shot in the film too.

Mark Hamill is utterly brilliant in ‘The Last Jedi’. It’s arguably his best performance in the character of Luke. Hell, it’s arguably one of his best live action performances period. He’s been through some shit and it’s changed his character in the thirty year gap. He’s experienced unimaginable hardship, loss and learned some incredibly cool force abilities. He’s a tad grouchy and he’s taken to drinking green milk from the udder of a hideous alien. He also lost some weight and looks fantastic for it.

Princess Leia is handled very well too. The late Carrie Fisher was much improved here, giving a very good showing, following her practically mute role in ‘The Force Awakens’. The infamous space scene wasn’t as bad as some have made out. I thought the scoring and visuals were on point during it and it finally showed us Leia using the force. What’s not to like? I was also incredibly pleased to see her have a moment with Luke. It would have been criminal for either of those two to go out without sharing a scene together. It was a genuine lump in the throat moment.

Visually, I thought the film was stunning. It’s the most stylish to date and some of the action, aided by lovely wide shots, was jaw dropping. The opening shot where the camera rushes down was exhilarating, the Canto Bight stuff popped despite being superfluous, the scene when General Holdo (Laura Dern) sends the Resistance cruiser zooming through Snoke’s Supremacy was ridiculously cool and that lightsaber battle in the throne room is up there for me. There was a plethora of visually incredible moments in this film and sadly I can’t possibly list them all which is annoying.

Speaking of Canto Bight. Finn and Rose’s side plot was unnecessary, disrupted the pacing, was off in terms of tone and felt like a rather convoluted way to setup the showdown on Crait. Benicio Del Toro’s character was poor and don’t even get me started on the druggy stutter. It felt superfluous to the main plot and conjured up memories of the prequels whilst also featuring some real corny dialogue. That along with some poorly worked comedic moments and the slightly underwhelming walkers at the end was the only real let down for me.

In terms of Rey and Kylo. I actually loved the whole dynamic of their relationship in this one. The force ‘FaceTiming’ as I called it wasn’t that off putting, was explained well and again opened up new possibilities. Rey is obviously struggling to find her role in things, trying to coax Luke into training her whilst Kylo is really on the end of a prolonged bout of bullying at the hands of Snoke and equally questioning his role. Which is why I was delighted when he ended him. It was deserved and Kylo is fast becoming my favourite of the newer characters.

Adam Driver is a brilliant actor and he’s really showing up Hayden Christiansen in the how to play a conflicted character stakes. I see now why JJ hand picked him for this role. By the end, it’s pretty clear that he’s went full big bad however which is a shame because even now I want him redeemed. He’s clearly the last thread of Skywalker heritage in this saga that can realistically continue and for that reason alone I want him to survive. It’ll be very interesting to see where he goes from this.

Daisy Ridley has been criticised in some circles for her so called wooden delivery of certain lines. I must have been watching a different film though because I missed these completely. Perhaps I was too busy just enjoying the story and action instead of looking for reasons to throw the toys out the pram. She was absolutely fine for me and I felt they reigned in her ‘overpowered’ abilities, making her more vulnerable, particularly during the throne room sequences to appease the ‘Mary Sue’ brigade.

I can’t discuss this film without mentioning Poe and General Hux. Oscar Isaac is a talented actor and I’m delighted he was given a chunkier role. He learnt a valuable lesson in this and it looks like he’s taking control of the Resistance going forward. Hux was often used as comedic levity and for the most part it worked. His little smirk at Kylo upon leaving the throne room and general slyness was oddly enjoyable. Domhnall Gleeson owns the character.

Musically, John Williams returns to score this and it’s brilliance from the man as ever. There’s not many new themes in there but that’s probably because there’s not many new characters worthy of them. What he does do is reintroduce many classics to delightful effect. The Leia theme has a delicate moment in the space scene whilst Yoda’s adds an emotional edge to the return of that particular character. It just isn’t Star Wars without the great mans involvement.

Incidentally, the Yoda scene was absolutely fantastic. The puppet looked great and they nailed the mannerisms and the eccentric personality we all loved from the Original trilogy.

This is a divisive film and much of the hate appears to stem from two main issues. Firstly, predetermined fan theories not coming true, and secondly, the apparent callous way in which established mythology and characters have been dealt with. As I said earlier, I’m delighted that the mythology has been freshened up. This misconception that you must be from famous lineage to be a Jedi is just that. I think the older characters were handled competently. It’s all subjective though.

Overall. I think the positives more than outweigh the negatives in ‘The Last Jedi’. It’s not perfect by any means but it’s a brilliant addition to the Star Wars saga and opens up so many possibilities going forward. It’s added freshness to the franchise, Luke still very much has a role to play and the fate of the Resistance hangs on a knife edge. I look forward to Episode 9 now and Rian Johnson’s trilogy and I highly recommend this one to the majority of fans. Most will already have seen it mind, but if you haven’t, then what the hell are you waiting for?

Rating: 4.5/5

Logan Lucky (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

LOGAN LUCKY

Director: Steven Soderbergh
Writer: Rebecca Blunt
Stars: Channing Tatum, Adam Driver, Daniel Craig, Katie Holmes

Sometimes you go into a movie not expecting too much from it. This is not a dig at the plot, the Director or the Cast. Just sometimes this happens and surprisingly it turns out to be one of your favourite movies of the year. Yes, Logan Lucky (or as I keep calling it Lucky Logan?) is about two brothers Jimmy and Clyde Logan who attempt to pull off a heist during a NASCAR race in North Carolina.

Jimmy Logan is played by Channing Tatum, who was a football player and star from his small town in West Virginia, his ambitions of joining the NFL were cut short by a knee injury that unfortunately also has effected his chances of work due to health and safety laws. (He is laid off at the beginning of the movie) It appears that everyone in the Logan family is cursed and this is mentioned a few times throughout the movie. His brother Clyde (Adam Driver) lost an arm (or the forearm and hand as he points out to people) serving his country and is now working in a bar for the local neanderthals to make fun off.

Tatum and Driver although some might say to look at definitely aren’t brothers but both actors appear to have a brotherly connection throughout and there are scenes dotted throughout where Jimmy shows his love for his brother. Both appear to be at the end of their tether and even more so Jimmy who has just found out that his ex-wife Bobbie Jo (Katie Holmes) is moving across state with her new husband and Bobbie and Jimmy’s daughter Sadie played by an impressive young actress called Farrah Mackenzie.

At this point in the movie, things for both brothers have to change and this is where Jimmy’s plan is put in place to channel the cash from the arena that is pouring in from a NASCAR race event using the vacuum tubes that lay in the foundations of the arena that Jimmy knows from working in the mines and also knows that there is a secure vault within those foundations that all the cash is vacuumed into. This is also the point in the movie that I think a lot of people have a problem with. The sheer scale of precision and accuracy in the plan, mostly Jimmy’s plan is unbelievable, but hey, what the heck just enjoy the craziness of the plot and don’t worry too much about that. The movie is clearly made for entertainment value (aren’t all movies like this?) and that is what makes this movie a silly but really enjoyable film.

Tatum and Driver are certainly the leads in this movie but they are also backed up by Daniel Craig playing Joe Bang the explosives expert. Craig is a stand out in his performance and I can only imagine Director Steven Soderbergh giving the British actor free reigns as Craig really lets loose in the role and his southern accent is incredibly convincing for someone who is from Cheshire, England. Bang’s expertise is required for the heist and with only one snag (being in prison) the Logan boys have to figure out a way of getting their man in on the action.

With Craig in a superb supporting role I can’t say much the same for the very under used Seth MacFarlane as Max Chilblain who I thought was a great character but perhaps I can accept Soderbergh understating this role as Chilblain dominates the screen in his scenes to be fair. Again the same can be said for Sebastian Stan’s Dayton White, not quite a cameo, nor a supporting role. The biggest of them all and what took me by surprise was the appearance near the very end of the movie of Hilary Swank as Special Agent Sarah Grayson. Perhaps this is being set up for a sequel I don’t know. Swank’s role is very limited and kind of bizarre that someone of her acting calibre is used in a role that could have gone to anyone. Playing the Special Agent in the investigation of the heist was a throw away set up. It certainly wasn’t the FBI on a hot pursuit to catch the criminals but more of a way for the story to explain that the authorities are on this and to be honest it looks like it may have been a last minute decision to include Hilary Swank in the role.

Overall the Direction of Soderbergh is more in line with “Ocean’s” series of film rather than his “Che” movie making style. It’s slick and funny and again shouldn’t be taken too seriously as “Logan Lucky” is an enjoyable film with a great cast. Highly Recommend.