Tag Archives: Al Pacino

The Pirates of Somalia (2017) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

PIRATES OF SOMALIA

Director: Bryan Buckley
Writers: Jay Bahadur (Book “The Pirates of Somalia”), Bryan Buckley (Screenplay)
Stars: Al Pacino, Evan Peters, Melanie Griffith, Barkhad Abdi

The Pirates of Somalia is based on Jay Bahadur (Peters) an amateur journalist who is struggling to make any headway in his field and comes up with the idea of providing an up close and personal look at the pirates on how they live and what has driven them.

There were two things I knew going into this film and I don’t mean spoilers. I knew Evan Peters and Barkhad Abdi wouldn’t disappoint and Al Pacino, although top billing would be used sparingly. I don’t mind admitting I was right on both counts. I have to say that I’ve always been a fan of Peters since I first saw him in “Kick-Ass” in 2010 as Dave Lizewski’s oddball geeky friend Todd. He would go on to impress me in various roles in the television series “American Horror Story”. I was surprised to learn that the actor turned 30 this year as he appears a lot younger than his years. Playing the role of Jay Bahadur impressed me because the part is a lot different to what I’m used to seeing him play. He does appear to still have some humour in The Pirates of Somalia but the role demanded a much more serious frame of mind in parts.

Barkhad Abdi again is someone I’m beginning to take notice of and ironically the other role I have seen him in was playing a Somalian Pirate in Captain Phillips as Muse in which I was very impressed by. Here though his role is very different and is the base and guy to go to in Somalia and in Jay’s case an ally. Playing the role of Abdi he speaks very decent English and Jay himself admits that he trusts Abdi. I haven’t yet saw the actor in Blade Runner 2049 as Doc Badger so I cannot comment on his performance in that role.

I mentioned earlier that Al Pacino was used very sparsely and this isn’t a bad thing. His role in this movie is to inspire Jay Bahadur to do something with his life and act on his instincts and forget going to study journalism and go and do it instead and get noticed. Melanie Griffith unchanged like Pacino is bit part and plays Jay’s Mother. Very limited and although in the past has impressed me isn’t in the movie enough to pass comment on.

I like Bryan Buckley’s Direction here as although this is a proper movie it does have a documentary feel to it (not in the way its shot) but in the way the dialogue is used in the movie gives it an interview feel due to the fact the main character is a journalist with a lot of questions. Buckley incorporates some random animation into the mix that I enjoyed and reminded me of an animated section in Tarantino’s Kill Bill but instead of Manga style cartoon, it reminded me more of music videos by The Gorillaz. I also didn’t have a problem with the slow pacing of the movie as it felt right to digest what was being shown on the screen at times and to be honest I found it an informative and entertaining plot that was put together well with the writing, the cast and the directing.

Don’t be fooled by the exciting title though. “The Pirates of Somalia” isn’t an action movie and I’m glad. Jay Bahadur experience of these events through a lens is pleasing and satisfactory and I’m also happy that his story has reached the public eye. The movie is enjoyable and the characters are developed enough for you to connect with them. I recommend giving the movie a shot.

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Misconduct (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

MISCONDUCT

Director: Shintaro Shimosawa
Writers: Simon Boyes, Adam Mason
Stars: Josh Duhamel, Anthony Hopkins, Al Pacino, Malin Akerman, Julie Stiles, Alice Eve, Byung-hun Lee

Misconduct is a movie that is about Ben (Josh Duhamel) who is an ambitious young lawyer who is contacted by his unstable ex-girlfriend Emily (Malin Akerman) who has classified incriminating data files about her billionaire boss Arthur Denning (Anthony Hopkins)

Ben takes on the big case against the powerful and ruthless executive of a large pharmaceutical company Denning and soon finds himself involved in a case of blackmail and corruption and his life and career begins to spiral into the absurd and desperation.

When I read a bit about this movie which I normally do before viewing to give me an idea of the storyline and whose who in the film at first glance I see the cast of Duhamel, Hopkins, Pacino and Stiles and my initial reaction was and expected an intense thriller with a deep storyline.

In fact Hopkins and Pacino are bit part characters although important key roles don’t have enough screen time as far as I am concerned. The story itself is a little clunky and disjointed and the pace of the movie is a little slow. My initial feeling was that the storyline is lacking any suspense and depth, meaning that filmmakers have spread the story so thin to reach it’s duration and tuning time.

None of the actors disappoint in terms of how interesting the characters they portray but surprisingly the chemistry between the two veteran actors Anthony Hopkins and Al Pacino appear at times shaky and awkward.

Anthony Hopkins at this time appears to be portraying rich billionaires who are held to ransom again and again (check my review of Kidnapping Freddy Heineken) and although never disappoints looks like he is just topping up his bank balance in accepting these limited screen time roles. I find it frustrating that an actor of his calibre and c.v. “has” to do these roles that I cannot believe for a minute they find interesting as the role isn’t part of the story enough.

Having just watched Al Pacino in Danny Collins (2015) a month or so back i was very disappointed in this as like Hopkins you know what to expect and again its not a big role in the sense of screen time and I understand that both Arthur Denning and Charles Abrams are key characters to the plot but I felt both these actors where there to sell the movie.

Duhamel is decent enough in the lead role but at times his performance is inconsistent in the sense that his character lacks any urgency when the scene requires it.

Julie Stiles as Jane Clemente is strangely cast as the tough female operator but unfortunately appears too cocky at times and for some reason her performance is forced and unconvincing which was disappointing.

Malin Akerman (Emily) and Alice Eve (Charlotte) are sparingly used and it appears they are just there to set up the scene and for the stories execution and that is it. With giving these two female actresses these roles they appear weak an under utilised and without causing offence to either actress this makes the movie appear like an episode of a crime Drama or a TV Movie. Again this is not Akerman and Eve’s fault.

Byung-hun Lee plays the character of the Accountant in a supporting role which is quite intriguing when he makes an appearance, but sadly his character feels under-utilised (a trend throughout the movie) and only serves as a glorified henchman.

Director Shintaro Shimosawa’s movie may be considered choppy and dull and the case presented in the plot are familiar themes of TV Movies of the same nature that wouldn’t look out of place in the 1980’s. Although the cinematography is well done in its visuals and to be fair sets up some very dark scenes that tie in with the storyline.

“Misconduct” lacked a sympathetic main and central character which for whatever reason makes the movie appear to have a cast of supporting actors supporting each other with no main lead and this is no fault of Josh Duhamel who tries his best and carrying the intricate and far fetched plot along. Although this isn’t the worst movie I have viewed. It does lack in the majority of its key elements. Give it a watch, don’t give it a watch. I’m passed caring.

Danny Collins (2015) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

DANNY COLLINS

Director: Dan Fogelman
Writer: Dan Fogelman
Stars: Al Pacino, Annette Bening, Jennifer Garner, Christopher Plummer

Al Pacino is Danny Collins in Dan Fogelman’s musical and spiritual journey of a man, an artist, a performer and a vulnerable human being.

The Movie opens with Danny interviewed by a music magazine where Danny references John Lennon as a major influence.

We wind on four decades to Danny now in a corset, fake tan and hair tints performing his most famous song “Sweet Baby Love” which really is a “version” of Neil Diamond’s hit “Sweet Caroline.” He is now an ageing, alcoholic, cocaine-addicted performer, disillusioned with his current state of faking it through sold out performances, playing the same old repertoire to the same crowd.

There are echoes of various artists in the character of Collins. His early self is very reminiscent of a Lennon or a Dylan in 1971 intellectually astute and confident of his abilities and his work. The later stage of the artists career is more reminiscent of Elvis in his final years or perhaps Tom Jones or Neil Diamond (previously mentioned) chiming out the greatest hits (chicken in a basket music) night upon night to what looks like the same audience.

At this point I was already convinced we wouldn’t be seeing many flashbacks with the young Collins which I felt would have been interesting to observe and to understand how he became the person he ended up being. This was a missed opportunity as I felt Eric Michael Roy who portrayed the young Collins not only looked like a young Pacino but as an actor could have had a more filled out role an although most of his roles are in TV and TV movies perhaps Fogelman wasn’t confident enough to expose the actor to such a role (who knows)

Danny is celebrating his birthday with all his “friends” who appear to be hangers on and sycophants. His only genuine oldest and dearest friend Frank who is played by Christopher Plummer eagerly presents Danny with a gift that he has been holding on to for three months and bought it through a collector. A letter that was sent to Danny in 1971 by John Lennon, but which Danny never received.

Lennon had sent him a letter with some advice about his songwriting and suggested they meet up. Danny is shocked and traumatised as he wonders how his life might have changed if he had received the letter. Unfortunately this was held back deliberately by a former manager of Collins who knew one day the letter would be worth something to a collector and now 40 years on the letter finally reached its destination.

This story of Danny Collins I might add is based loosely on true events (in the words of the opening text to the movie “Kind of”) on the true story of folk singer Steve Tilston.

Al Pacino is enjoyable and great fun as the eccentric Collins. Pacino gives a brilliant performance in a role that you can only describe as satisfying. Pacino has perhaps being on the wrong end of some of the critics reviews in some of his more recent work but in Danny Collins he really has picked a winner here and by the looks of it really enjoys and embraces the role. Much so that there are YouTube clips out there of Pacino playing the role at random events and blasting out “Sweet Baby Love” You can never underestimate what a great actor Pacino is and although previously mentioned he may have chosen a few bad movies in recent years, his performances where never in doubt. In Danny Collins, he will make you love him, hate him, pity him and sometimes want to be him.

Annette Bening plays Mary, the flustered hotel manager in New Jersey really is the perfect role up against and side by side with Danny when he takes up temporary residence at her Hotel. Mary is the slap in the face Danny requires at times when his life is looking derailed and really is the bedrock of the story along with Plummer’s Frank.

Bobby Cannavale once more delivers the goods playing Danny’s estranged son Tom. Having Pacino and Cannavale for the film and the two sharing great chemistry in their scenes is exhilarating at times, emotional and suspense filled on when the audience is half expecting Danny to ruin what he is attempting to build with his son. Cannavale handles the role naturally and really gels with Pacino in the Father and Son scenes.

Dan Fogelman’s direction is excellent and he really nails the theme of the movie within the first 5 minutes from 1971 to Present Day and the opening shots of Danny arriving on stage really sent a message out to the viewers that we were going to be entertained for the next hour and a half. It has to be said that although the story is based on a John Lennon letter, Fogelman’s angle is only using the letter as a prop and a turning point in the story. Lennon’ music is used correctly depending on the scene and it was a joy to hear the original tracks of the man used instead of cover versions.

Danny Collins is an easy entertaining movie to watch. Seeing Al Pacino in a different role than we are used to was enjoyable and refreshing. Danny Collins is also a nice feelgood movie and better then I expected it to be. I highly recommend this movie to anyone who hasn’t watched it yet.