Tag Archives: J.K. Simmons

All Nighter (2017) Movie Review By Darrin Gauthier

All Nighter

Director: Gavin Wiesen
Writer: Seth W. Owen (as Seth Owen)
Stars: Analeigh Tipton, Emile Hirsch, J.K. Simmons 

Plot:  A workaholic father who attempts to visit his daughter during a layover in LA, only to discover that she’s disappeared, is forced to team up with her awkward ex-boyfriend to find her over the course of one transformative night.

Running Time: 86 Minutes

IMDB Score:  5.7

Why I Watched It: Every 20 movies or so I like throwing in a comedy as a change of pace, just to give the genre films a rest, it’s good to watch something out of your wheelhouse from time to time and JK Simmons.

Random Thoughts: J.K Simmons is a very good character actor, in fact he’s just a really good actor but let’s be honest he’s not a leading man in Hollywood but he won an Oscar for Supporting Actor and he got to trade on that to get different roles and All Nighter is not only a lead role but a comedy as well.  It’s a complete against type casting but good for him.

What I Liked: J.K Simmons not surprisingly is the best part of this movie, he’s a presence and he also as that rare talent to be likeable but also a little scary, not really sure what’s going on behind his eyes, heck he could hug you or kill you and neither would be a surprise.  He gets to be a bad ass here, he gets to be the lead and he does well on both counts.  Oddly Emile Hirsch is a pretty good partner for him they play off each other very well and you kind of believe the relationship they form.

I will say the trailer and the plot description is a bit of a shaggy dog not really what it’s about,  also it’s more of a comedy drama than an action comedy, the trailers make it seem like that and it’s not.  Oddly most of the humour comes from secondary characters, Simmons and Hirsch aren’t funny and oddly they’re not trying to be. It’s a light and breezy film, it moves well it’s under 90 minutes and it’s mostly a sweet or at least likeable film.

What I Didn’t Like: All Nighter is an odd film, the tone and plot are just off a bit.  I really have no idea why they had the Hirsch and Tipton break up after the opening, him helping her dad find out about her just makes the film seem tonally off, cause she’s with someone else and then the film is more about Simmons and Hirsch becoming friends and that really seems like a reach.  For my money the film should have been about Simmons and him trying to reconnect with his daughter.  Simmons has a very good moment when he tells Hirsch why he was so frantic to see his daughter and that moment is good and it feels real but it doesn’t fit with the rest of the film.

The film is very slight and what’s funny about that is that it’s not that funny, sure Taran Killam tries his best and he plays just a weird character for the sake of being weird he adds nothing to the plot and his stuff isn’t that funny.  Now with that being said it’s not bad unfunny I just think this film didn’t have the right tone to be funny, there’s no energy to the plot or the characters and it was a huge mistake having Simmons and Hirsch both be laid back guys, there’s nothing dynamic about them they are kind of like the film they’re just there.

Sadly the main plot about a man who wants to be closer to his daughter is lost here cause that man spends most of the movie with her ex-boyfriend and that’s odd and add that he’s old enough to be the guy’’s dad just just fit, look age doesn’t matter in friendship but the only thing they had in common is that they both like Bob Seager.  The also use the fact that Hirsch plays the banjo like that should be a joke but it goes nowhere.

Final Thoughts: Not a bad film, I kind of enjoyed watching it but it felt like empty calories, it’s a showcase for Simmons but a film you won’t remember in a month.

Rating: 5/10

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Jobs (2013) Movie Retro Review by Stephen McLaughlin

JOBS

Director: Joshua Michael Stern
Writer: Matt Whiteley
Stars: Ashton Kutcher, Dermot Mulroney, Josh Gad, Matthew Modine, J.K. Simmons

Not to be confused with the 2015 Michael Fassbender film ‘Steve Jobs” which I will review in good time and I decided to review the one that came first. This movie is the story of Steve Jobs’ rise from from a college dropout into one of the most creative entrepreneurs of the 20th century.

It has to be said that making a biopic about Steve Jobs is a great idea and you wonder why it took so long for a movie on his life to be made. Opening at the 2001 launch of the “IPod” with Ashton Kutcher is the title role as an older Steve Jobs was a neat way of hooking the audience into the movie and it also reminded our current selves that announcing a device you could fit in your pocket could store over 1,000 songs was a pretty big deal over 16 years ago. In the room the audience gasp at the reality of such a device. Just like we did back then.

The Filmmakers had a tremendous opportunity to make an interesting character based and informative movie about Steve Jobs who created ‘Apple” but instead used him as the presence of Apple’s story instead. It may appear nitpicking but I felt the movie should have been called “Apple” instead, but from what I have read the company had no input in the making of this movie at all.

“Jobs” quickly takes us back to the early seventies to where it all began. Don’t get me wrong, the movie is interesting to a point and having watched (and reviewed) the documentary about IBM a few months back “Silicon Valley” it was nice to see things from another perspective in the era of home computing from the major players.

I’ll be honest, apart from mainstream media attention I have to admit I didn’t know too much about Steve Jobs other than his “Apple” life story. I was interested into seeing his personal life and how he became one of the most powerful men in the technology world. This movie doesn’t do this and although the cast of Ashton Kutcher (Steve Jobs), Josh Gad (Steve Wozniak) JK Simmons (Arthur Rock), Dermot Mulroney (Mike Markkula) and Matthew Modine as John Sculley is very steady. The movie is more a time line of his life (to an extent) and the company.

This is where the problem lies with “Jobs” it isn’t sure what it is meant to be projecting as Jobs personal life is portrayed in bullet points and only skims the surface of the man and his personal problems. It also displays a lack of pace and the fluidity appears start / stop at times. I learned that he had a daughter Lisa that he denied for a very long time and it’s not until later on in the movie it appears he had a change of heart and a teenage Lisa is portrayed and in his life at this point. There was no emotional storytelling in relation to this or to others which I felt was a missed opportunity.

Away from these issues I learned more about the business side of Apple and Jobs relationship with his board and colleagues. Kutcher portrays him as best as he could and picks up some of the mans traits and mannerisms which I should give him credit for. Kutcher in my opinion isn’t the greatest actor in the word but his scenes with Josh Gad as Steve Wozniak were fun and lightened the story with humour between them. Josh Gad to me was the best thing in the movie and although I didn’t know much about Wozniak other than what most folk know about him through various interviews, this movie gave you an insight into what it was like to be Steve Jobs’ colleague, company partner and friend.

With a supporting cast of Mulroney, Simmons and Modine this is another saving grace to the film and particularly Mulroney’s portrayal of Mike Markkula who is the long suffering business partner of Jobs who endured some awkward moments throughout the film protecting Jobs in particular during the boardroom scenes that both Simmons and Modine excelled in.

Another positive throughout the movie is the soundtrack. From Cat Stevens’ “Peace Train” and Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather” to the brilliant “Life’s Been Good” by Joe Walsh which add to the era and fit well into the story.

In summary, if you wish to learn more about Steve Jobs I wouldn’t recommend getting that from this movie. That’s not to say it’s a bad film. “Jobs” is interesting enough to keep you entertained for a couple of hours and learn a few things about how “Apple” began in a garage and what it became today which is quite astonishing. Just don’t look for a deep thought provoking insight into one of the most brilliant minds of a generation.

Whiplash (2014) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin

WHIPLASH.png

Director: Damien Chazelle
Writer: Damien Chazelle
Stars: Miles Teller,  J.K. Simmons,  Melissa Benoist

I have to hold my hands up and admit I’m not a big fan of jazz but I have to say, I really enjoyed Damien Chazelle’s Whiplash. The movie is about Andrew Neiman played by Miles Teller who is an ambitious young jazz drummer. Andrew is hungry and his goal is rising to the top of his elite music conservatory.

Terence Fletcher (J.K. Simmons) is an instructor known for his terrifying hardline teaching methods plucks young Andrew from a lower class to become a interim drummer in his ensemble and Andrew quickly realises the rumours about Fletcher’s teachings are very true and extreme.

The audience understands the relationship between Simmons (“Fletcher”) and Teller (“Andrew”) right from the kick off and looking back on the movie they are essentially the only characters in the film worth remembering. (That’s not a bad thing by the way) this is a result of the excellent writing from Director and Writer Chazelle.

Andrew’s dad played by the brilliant Paul Reiser and his girlfriend Melissa Benoist (Supergirl) are merely supporting characters and to be honest the movie probably shouldn’t have used these well known actors that serve little purpose other than to remind us outwith the Jazz clientele there are “normal” people out there who are not like Neiman or Fletcher. Without sounding cruel they could have really got anyone to play these roles.

The character of Andrew is insufferable at times in his attitude and his pomposity towards family members and close friends and fair play to Teller who does an amazing job of maintaining a dour and insensitive expression throughout the movie playing the dedicated student Nieman. He has the drive and the ambition to be a success, but feels his personal life must take a backseat on his pursuit of success.

Miles Teller really shows the agony and pain in his character going through to reach his dream and at times the intense drumming sequences look incredible and torturous workouts at times. He  also gives a spectacular performance as an unlikeable character who aspires to be one of the great jazz drummers and is convincing showing a great passion for what he does and I felt the actor really understood the character.

Simmons’s Fletcher is a superb sadistic maniac who thrives on filling his musicians with fear, paranoia and dread at every opportunity. He can only be described as our antihero of (kind of), Terrence Fletcher has a knack for reducing his traumatic students to the point of total mental and physical exhaustion and even depression. But his reasons for acting the way he does is for the sole purpose of finding the next big “Yardbird” Charlie Parker that will be otherwise lost, if not being pushed to the very limit by Fletcher.

I feel he manages to combine Fletcher’s distinguished persona with his terrifying unpredictability and is one of those actors that is simply great in every role he is in. At times there is signs that there is something within Fletcher that commands respect and approval. I felt Chazelle done a fantastic job in casting the two leads in Teller and Simmons. One thing I have to admit to is, I enjoy dark humour and “Whiplash” has plenty of that to go round.

Damien Chazelle directing and writing in “Whiplash” that allows the audience to enter the mindset of Andrew and Terence. I felt the script manipulated the viewer with giving Andrew little moments of success but swiping it away the very next scene and allowing us to experience the reaction of Andrew when Fletcher wanted to press or manipulate him. Each turn of the story shapes his expectations and ambitions and then escalates it to the right point.

I often think the best films are those that reach out to the most diverse and wide spectrum of film fans. Whiplash is refreshing to see, most people wouldn’t be strong minded enough to take that kind of punishment so it’s interesting to watch Andrew go through it all and see how far he was prepared to go to succeed. Director Chazelle achieved this with “Whiplash” which is full of well executed scenes and above all else, a love towards music and the challenges it often represents if you want to get to the very top. Highly recommended.

Patriots Day (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh

PATRIOTS DAY

Director: Peter Berg
Writers: Peter Berg (screenplay), Matt Cook (screenplay)
Stars: Mark Wahlberg, Michelle Monaghan, J.K. Simmons

A tense, thrilling and at times moving re-creation of the 2013 Boston Marathon and the subsequent four day manhunt. Patriot’s Day from Peter Berg rather effectively weaves together the different perspectives of the victims and law enforcement officers involved, as well that of the two Tzarnaev brothers responsible for the hideous atrocities on that fateful day, into a single cohesive storyline.

The film begins with a quick introduction to the cocky, insubordinate, Tommy Saunders (Mark Wahlberg); as he kicks down a door, busting his knee in the process, and deals with a case of domestic violence, involving a half naked man and an iron. It then introduces the other characters that will form the various different perspectives of the story throughout. Both Jessica Kensky (Rachel Brosnahan) and her husband Patrick Downes (Christopher O’Shea), Sergeant Pugliese (JK Simmons), Dun Meng (Jimmy O. Yang) and then finally Dzhokhar (Alex Wolff) and Tamarlan (Themo Melikidze) Tzarnaev. These fairly short introductions serve as precursor to the marathon and the attack itself, really helping to add a personal touch to what’s about to unfold.

The lead up to the attack is very well handled by Berg, with the various cuts between each of the different perspectives, not to mention the use of real footage of the day and a shaky handheld camera style, helping to really rack up the tension. Despite knowing what is about to unfold, it still hits hard when the bombs go off. The image of the explosions in the densely packed crowd had a profound effect on me and the excellent use of sound during these moments, with a brief period of high frequency static, which I’d imagine the unfortunate people there on that day must surely have experienced, really added to the sense of momentary paralysis as Tommy and the others looked on in disbelief at what was unfolding before their eyes. The immediate carnage afterwards wasn’t watered down any to avoid viewer discomfort. Blood could be seen everywhere, severe lacerations and dismembered limbs were lying on the ground, all very vividly captured and strangely more powerfully emotive within the civilian environment of downtown Boston, than if say, it was shown within a war film.

Tommy, the main focus of the film for the main, then tries to regain some control in the chaos, rushing to the aid of causalities, calling in ambulances and demanding the marathon be stopped. The first fatalities, including an eight year old boy are shown shortly afterwards, before the FBI and Special Agent Richard DesLauriers (Kevin Bacon) arrive on the scene to takeover at once, and incur the wrath of Tommy instantaneously by overruling his request to move the bodies. “We got to tell the parents that their son is still lying in the fucking street? No fuck that” he rants. DesLauriers meanwhile, quickly identifies the likely terrorist connection and requests a large command centre be setup immediately from which to commence the investigation.

There’s a powerful moment when Jessica and Patrick are both stricken with severe leg injuries that ultimately lead to amputations. The former completely unaware of the severity of her own wounds, attempts to save her husbands life by fashioning a tourniquet out of a belt before both a rushed to hospital. Tommy attempts to take some short respite from the horrors he’s witnessed and has to throw relatives out of his house that are making him endure the Spanish Inquisition. His respite proves to be very short indeed though, as he gets called back to the command centre, following a breakthrough, to impart his knowledge of the Boston streets on DesLauriers, from which they retrace the bombers steps and manage to obtain photos of the pair.

Despite the discovery of the perpetrators and being in possession of relatively clear photos, DesLauriers remains unwilling to publicly blame the bombings on radical islamists through fear of backlash against other muslims. He faces heavy pressure, however, with Tommy telling him he has to “let Boston work for us” and an angry Commissioner Ed Davis (John Goodman) telling him that it’s his city and they should be released. The matter quickly gets taken out of their hands however when a leak to Fox News is relayed to the team and DesLauriers, visibly angry himself now, is forced to concede. With the pictures out in the public domain, the manhunt for the brothers quickly picks up in pace and they’re forced into running, not long beforehand they’d been seen watching the aftermath of the events on the news.

During the beginning stages of the manhunt, the young police officer Sean Collier (Jake Picking), seen sporadically before, is shot dead outside MIT, Dzhokhar’s college friends then discover his role in the bombings and choose not to disclose it with the police, before finally, Dun gets kidnapped and has his Mercedes Benz car highjacked by the pair. The kidnapping of Dun turns out to be the biggest mistake they could have made though, as the car has GPS tracking, and after dithering too long, and showing their complete incompetence during a stop at the gas station, Dun manages to escape and alert the police of their location. A furious firefight breaks out shortly afterwards between the brothers and two police officers, with homemade grenades being thrown, causing untold chaos. Sergeant Pugliese then has his moment, arriving on the scene and quipping in with “Yeah, no shit. I’m gonna flank them” after one of the other cops tells him they’re being shot at. A sequence of craziness that could be straight out of a Benny Hill sketch then unfolds with shots being fired, more grenades being thrown, before a downed Tamerlan fresh off a bit of wrestling with Pugliese, is run over by his escaping brother. The film then enters its finale with Dzhokhar’s hiding place being tracked to a boat in a driveway. There’s a short and tense standoff with a host of enforcement officers and FBI agents, zeroed in on his location, before finally the younger brother is smoked out and detained.

The film features strong acting performances from pretty much everyone involved,  but it’s the law enforcement characters, played by Wahlberg, Bacon, Simmons and Goodman that are the standouts. Wahlberg in particular, as you’d expect from a native Bostonian, delivers an emotionally powerful performance as Tommy. His character also has his fair share of humorous moments and dialogue, which really helps soften the overall tension and drama surrounding him. Bacon is fantastic as DesLauriers, a man grappling with political correctness and facing increasing pressure from the Boston police force to take decisive action. Goodman and Simmons are both fantastic as the charismatic commissioner and hardened Sergeant respectively. Melikidze and Wolff are more than decent as the bombers. The latter portraying the immature, idiotic, pot smoking Dzhokhar, that’s seems either detached from reality or blissfully unaware of his actions, scarily well. The former portrays his role as the older Tamerlan with a scary intenseness.

Thematically, the film focuses strongly on the bravery of the law enforcement officers, that have in recent times, taken a bit of a pounding for their heavy handed, ignorant handling of certain issues, and to be fair it does this very well. It helps remind us that these people are human and that the vast majority risk everything to protect innocents whilst doing there job every day. Another strong thematic point is the strength of the Boston spirit and how love will ultimately triumph over evil. Berg does a great job of showcasing this spirit in various different ways throughout. Renown for its toughness and strong sense of community, he perfectly captures this with the banter between the local police officers and the FBI agent working during the manhunt and also the way the citizens continually come together in the face of adversity. There’s one standout moment in particular, involving a man who throws a hammer at an officer before diving back inside his house during a heavy firefight, with pipe bombs getting thrown in all directions, provoking a look of disbelief from the officer.

A few short interviews with the real people involved in the attacks plays out before the final credits roll. The poignant completion of the Boston marathon by the real Patrick Downes, beautifully encapsulates the determination of the Boston populace.

I loved watching this film. There’s clearly been a lot of time and research done on the subject, and whilst it’s not perfect by any means, it’s tactfully handled and an enjoyable watch.

The Accountant (2016) Movie Review by Kevan McLaughlin

THE ACCOUNTANT

 

Director: Gavin O’Connor
Writer: Bill Dubuque 

Stars: Ben Affleck, Anna Kendrick, J.K. Simmons 

Ben Affleck as a genius, obsessive, problem-solving martial arts expert who spends his time battering people who have contradicted his personal moral code? Nope, it’s not a potential script for the upcoming Batman movie. It’s The Accountant – a beat ‘em up with calculators.

Christian Wolff (Affleck) is a forensic accountant who happens to have a high functioning form of autism. Through a series of flashbacks we see that the young Christian had the opportunity to attend a private institution which specialised in the development of people like Christian. His father believed it would be better for his son to live at home and learn to adjust to the world, rather than expect the world to be kind to him.

Ultimately, this is the decision that led to Christian’s mother to leave her family, presumably because of the pressure in raising a boy with such violent and destructive behaviour along with his younger brother.

His father is in the Special Forces and believes that a life of focused discipline and carefully challenged energy is the key to living a productive life, even for his autistic son. Having his both his sons trained in martial arts and sharpshooting is, in his opinion, the cornerstone Chris and his brother need.

Years later, Chris has used that channeled energy to pursue a rather lucrative career as a forensic accountant with some very questionable clients, given assistance by an unknown woman who only contacts Chris by telephone. Chris is given a contract to audit a state-of-the-art prosthetics corporation, Living Robotics, where discrepencies have been found by their own accountant Dana (Anna Kendrick).

The CEO, Lamar Blackburn (John Lithgow) cooperates with Chris, while the CFO and Blackburn’s oldest friend, Ed Chilton, dismisses any findings. Chris uncovers a missing $61 million, leading him to believe that Chilton has stolen from his company and his friend. A hitman (Jon Bernthal) then pays Chilton a visit and forces him to overdose on the insulin he takes for his diabetes.

Ray King (JK Simmons) is the director of FinCEN in the Treasury Department and has recruited Marybeth Medina in tracking down the ‘Accountant’, as he’s known. He’s wanted in connection to a ‘hit’ on the Gambino crime family.

Through a recording at the site of the shoot-out, Medina is able to isolate Chris repeating the Soloman Grundy nursery rhyme over and over, which she suspects is consistent with autistic behaviour. It transpires that King had a brief connection with the Accountant at the site of the Gambino hit when Chris had his gone pointed at him. King, with his back to Chris, was spared when trying to capture the hitman after questioning him about being a “good father”, something King believes drives the Accountant’s own moral code. King further reveals that the woman on the phone had contacted him, revealing secrets about people who “violated” the Accountant’s code and, thus, helped King rise to the position of Director.

When hitmen come after Dana, Chris expertly thwarts their attempt using his acquired skill set expertly. Dana, confused as to how an accountant can take out a team of armed assasins runs and hides with Chris to a lock-up where he’s kept a Streamline trailer filled with cash, gold, passports and other such things he’s been paid in-kind, such as rare comic books and priceless works of art.

It would be easy to dismiss a lot about The Accountant but, in truth, it’s a wonderfully fun action thriller.

The dialogue in the interactions between Affleck and Kendrick is a little sloppy, and most of Chris’ genius stems from a formulaic blend of the clichéd wise fool and an unspecified military education with a 60 second scene of a young Chris training with an old Asian man in martial arts. And there’s a couple of jokes about how he ‘doesn’t get’ things. A bit hackneyed. But that’s just nitpicking. It is a very enjoyable movie, even with a twist that most could see coming from a great distance.

It’s worth it just to see Batman fight the Punisher in a comic book mash-up we’ll never see onscreen again.