Tag Archives: Bryan Brown

Blame It on the Bellboy (1992, Mark Herman)

Herman opens Blame It on the Bellboy with his two weakest features—and the film’s full of weaknesses so to start with the worst ones? It’s sort of impressive he set it up to immediately stumble.

First, Andreas Katsulas’s mobster. The film takes place in Venice and Katsulas plays the only Venetian. He plays the role with an absurd New York accent. It’s an incompetent performance.

Second, Bronson Pinchot’s titular bellboy, who sets the film’s wacky events into motion by not understanding English. The surprising thing about Bellboy is the absence of a plagiarism suit as Herman rips off scenes and dialogue from “Fawlty Towers,” apparently telling Pinchot just to ape Andrew Sachs’s Manuel on that program. Unfortunately, even in someone else’s role, Pinchot can’t give a good performance.

Then the principals show up. Bryan Brown, Dudley Moore and Richard Griffiths. Griffiths is the best as minor British politician looking for sleazy romance in Venice. Brown’s an assassin, Moore’s a nebbish on assignment from a bad job. Moore actually manages to be likable; Brown barely makes an impression. In about half his scenes, he doesn’t even speak, just nods.

The female cast is Patsy Kensit, Penelope Wilton and Alison Steadman. The script’s response to the character enduring a sexual trauma is to make her comically unsympathetic. Steadman is initially treated well (and her performance is good) before Herman too makes her a target for audience laughter.

Only Steadman keeps afloat, giving the film’s best performance.

Herman makes a bad Bellboy.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Mark Herman; director of photography, Andrew Dunn; edited by Michael Ellis; music by Trevor Jones; production designer, Gemma Jackson; produced by Steve Abbott and Jennifer Howarth; released by Hollywood Pictures.

Starring Dudley Moore (Melvyn Orton), Bryan Brown (Mike Lawton), Richard Griffiths (Maurice Horton), Andreas Katsulas (Scarpa), Patsy Kensit (Caroline Wright), Alison Steadman (Rosemary Horton), Penelope Wilton (Patricia Fulford) and Bronson Pinchot (Bellboy).


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F/X2 (1991, Richard Franklin)

F/X2 is very affable. It’s so affable, it encourages one to overlook its major shortcomings. First off, it’s a PG sequel to an R-rated original, which cuts down on the grit (though rated PG-13, the rating’s needlessly inflated with minor nudity). Second, it’s got Toronto standing in for New York. There’s some New York location shooting… but it’s not enough. The production simply doesn’t have any personality.

Of course, neither of those problems is really damning, if the script were good. Bill Condon’s script isn’t terrible–though it seems like it must not have been much work, more of an outline really, since the entire film depends solely on Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy. They’re playing PG versions of themselves from the first film, which is problematic, but they’re so likable, who cares?

Most of the rest of the film is the special effects. Except they’re not particularly believable or thoughtful–it’s like an episode of “MacGyver.”

I’ve only seen the film once before–at most twice and long ago–but I remembered two of the three twists. In fact, I think this film has conditioned me to be wary of Philip Bosco, never believing he isn’t secretly a villain.

The supporting cast is mostly wasted–Rachel Ticotin and Joanna Gleason barely get any screen time as the new love interests. And then Kevin J. O’Connor shows up to annoy.

Franklin’s direction is pretty good, somewhat hampered by Toronto.

But Brown and Dennehy are so affable, who cares?

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Richard Franklin; screenplay by Bill Condon, based on characters created by Robert T. Megginson and Gregory Fleeman; director of photography, Victor J. Kemper; edited by Andrew London; music by Lalo Schifrin; production designer, John Jay Moore; produced by Dodi Fayed and Jack Wiener; released by Orion Pictures.

Starring Bryan Brown (Rollie Tyler), Brian Dennehy (Leo McCarthy), Rachel Ticotin (Kim Brandon), Joanna Gleason (Liz Kennedy), Philip Bosco (Lt. Ray Silak), Kevin J. O’Connor (Matt Neely), Tom Mason (Mike Brandon), Dominic Zamprogna (Chris Brandon), Jossie DeGuzman (Marisa Velez) and John Walsh (Rado).


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Australia (2008, Baz Luhrmann)

First, a message from my wife: Hugh Jackman is a hottie boom batty.

There, that public service announcement is out of the way.

Australia is actually not the worst modern three hour vanity project I’ve seen. Peter Jackson’s King Kong is much worse. Australia, mostly thanks to director Baz Luhrmann’s “Looney Tunes” influenced direction, is something of a unique film. It’s a lot like an imitation Disney cartoon–complete with Nicole Kidman’s outlandish outfits and frequent mugging at the camera in the first act and Jackman’s character not even having a name.

Luhrmann does a lot of his bad CG–enough it makes one wonder if the CG is supposed to look fake, I imagine it is–and he does his digital backdrops and he really tries for a modern Technicolor experience. Except with his four second shots, it’s hard to think of Australia, the reels of film, as an experience. The viewer certainly has one, but the film’s shockingly empty of any content.

It’s not a boring film, which is nice. At times, I was horrified with myself for sitting through it–the first fourth is full of atrocious moments–but as it neared the end, I realized it didn’t feel much like three hours. It isn’t endless torture, maybe because the beginning narration forecasts the eventual Japanese attack so it’s got to show up… presumably.

I’m not sure where in the running time the attack happens, but when it does, Australia ceases to be an inane retro-remake of They’re a Weird Mob (maybe trying to sum up a country in a filmed narrative isn’t good idea… I mean, if the Archers couldn’t do it, what chance does Baz really have) and instead becomes a remake of Pearl Harbor. Except with really awful CG and a ludicrous series of events pulling Jackman, Kidman and adopted son Brandon Walters all back together.

Walters is, besides Kidman, the perfect example of what’s wrong with Luhrmann. Walters plays a half-caste (half Aboriginal, half white). Baz casted him because the kid looks like a kewpie doll, not because he could act. I could see this kid stuck in a car window, looking soulfully out at me. Zero reason otherwise to cast the kid.

Jackman’s actually good for most of the film, even if Australia does introduce him based on the comparison between he and Clint Eastwood’s eyes. There’s the squint and the cowboy hat and maybe even some spaghetti western music. But he’s fine. Until he has to start delivering lines, in the last hour, Kidman said to him in the first twenty or thirty minutes. It’s painful to watch, really. But otherwise, it’s a decent performance. Also good is David Ngoombujarra as Jackman’s sidekick. He doesn’t have much to do, but when he does, he’s excellent. Jack Thompson, Barry Otto and Ursula Yovich are all fine too. Not good, but fine.

As for bad–well, I guess I’ll start with Ben Mendelsohn, because Luhrmann just wastes him in a lousy role. Kidman’s terrible, but in the same boring way Kidman’s usually terrible so it isn’t even interesting. But Luhrmann forces a bad performance out of David Wenham, something I didn’t think possible, with such bad writing. Wenham’s inhumanely evil character–in a film full of them–is a constant absurd eyesore. Bryan Brown’s also bad in a smaller role, but it’s a stunt casting kind of thing. It’s forgivable. The misuse of Wenham is not.

The film’s problem, besides Luhrmann’s cartoonish direction, is the script. It’s not any good, past being well-paced I suppose. It skips interesting things, focuses on boring ones and has lots of plot holes. Mandy Walker’s cinematography is good, in those four second shots, and David Hirschfelder’s music has some great moments.

I probably expected Australia to be better. I don’t know why. It’s clear from the first four minutes just what kind of mess Luhrmann has made… but it does improve throughout–the directing even. Just not Kidman and Wenham.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Baz Luhrmann; screenplay by Luhrmann, Stuart Beattie, Ronald Harwood and Richard Flanagan, based on a story by Lurhmann; director of photography, Mandy Walker; edited by Dody Dorn and Michael McCusker; music by David Hirschfelder; production designer, Catherine Martin; produced by G. Mac Brown, Catherine Knapman and Luhrmann; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Nicole Kidman (Lady Sarah Ashley), Hugh Jackman (Drover), Brandon Walters (Nullah), David Wenham (Neil Fletcher), Bryan Brown (King Carney), Jack Thompson (Kipling Flynn), David Gulpilil (King George), David Ngoombujarra (Magarri) and Jacek Koman (Ivan).


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F/X (1986, Robert Mandel)

About ten minutes in to F/X, I got wondering how the film was going to deal with being a special effects-filled film about a guy doing special effects for films. I suppose they didn’t have to deal with that relationship, but it kept seeming more and more like they were going to need to address it. Then, at the end, rather simply, they did. It’s a quick “thank you” at the end of the film to the audience. Movies tend not to do the ending “thank you” anymore (Ocean’s Twelve coming the closest in recent memory) because it’s an acknowledgment of the film’s unreality… it probably has a lot to do with films being more centered towards the eventual home video market as opposed to the theatrical experience. An ending “thank you” for watching is definitely a theatrical consideration (I mean, doesn’t Predator even thank its audience?).

Anyway, the ending brings F/X up a little bit, because the film’s a narrative mess (it also has the most obvious stuntmen I can remember seeing in a long time). It has a solid opening, great first twenty minutes, maybe even twenty-five, then the narrative splits between Bryan Brown and Brian Dennehy. Brown goes from being the protagonist to the subject for half his scenes and the others are action scenes–and good action scenes–so he’s sort of lost. The Dennehy arc is great stuff (though incredibly unrealistic), with Joe Grifasi as his sidekick.

The film’s really well-paced, given all those narrative difficulties, and it’s a constant pleasure to watch. The experience stems from three things, audio and visual. First, Robert Mandel is a good director. He knows how to frame a shot, he knows how to have it lighted and he knows how to have scenes put together (Terry Rawlings’s editing has some outstanding moments–there’s also some scenes where it appears he cut too early, like the dialogue was interrupted for running time, but then I realized it was a stylistic choice and a fine one). F/X looks great from that department, but also because it’s an on location New York movie. Lots of great stuff to show off why New York is the best city to shoot a movie in. Third, and probably most important tying together points one and two: Bill Conti’s score. From the opening credits, Conti establishes his importance to the film and he keeps it up throughout. Conti’s filmography is spotty in terms of film quality, but he does amazing work here.

While Brown is good as the lead, his character–after the story’s moving–rarely has any time to reflect on what’s happened. It’s a little off-putting, but F/X actually has some wonderful subtle moments to take care of those deficiencies. Dennehy’s great. Brian Dennehy could sell real estate on Jupiter and make it believable. Supporting wise… Grifasi’s okay, Cliff De Young’s real good–particularly in the first twenty minutes, which appear to have had tighter revisions–Jerry Orbach’s funny, Jossie DeGuzman’s scenes are all good… The real acting champ, besides Dennehy, is Diane Venora. Her role’s relatively small, but she’s fantastic.

However long the laundry list of problems, F/X is still a fine diversion. And an exceptionally effective one, thanks to the fine production values.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Robert Mandel; written by Robert T. Megginson and Gregory Fleeman; director of photography, Miroslav Ondricek; edited by Terry Rawlings; music by Bill Conti; produced by Dodi Fayed and Jack Wiener; released by Orion Pictures.

Starring Bryan Brown (Rollie Tyler), Brian Dennehy (Leo McCarthy), Diane Venora (Ellen), Cliff De Young (Lipton), Mason Adams (Col. Mason), Jerry Orbach (Nicholas DeFranco), Joe Grifasi (Mickey), Martha Gehman (Andy), Roscoe Orman (Capt. Wallenger), Trey Wilson (Lt. Murdoch), Tom Noonan (Varrick), Paul D’Amato (Gallagher) and Jossie DeGuzman (Marisa Velez).


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