Tag Archives: Carla Gugino

Tell-Tale (2010, Greg Williams)

I was kind of curious how the makers of Tell-Tale got such a fantastic cast-not Carla Gugino, who’s terrible and seemingly cast only for her willingness to strip down to lingerie (as usual), but Adam Arkin and Clifton Collins Jr. Even Jesse Spencer is way too good for this kind of thing.

Turns out it’s Gugino’s production (writer Sebastian Gutierrez is her boyfriend), not some short where the caliber of the script got it a great cast.

Gutierrez’s script is laughably bad, contriving all sorts of instances (Spencer is an undercover cop who disappears, meaning the police have to be involved instead). If the film had just been Arkin and Gugino, had Gutierrez understood how to layer a narrative, it might have worked.

Gugino would still be bad, but that one’s an inevitability.

Williams’s direction shows mild competence. Arkin and Collins are great.

But it’s a weak effort.

1/3Not Recommended

CREDITS

Directed by Greg Williams; screenplay by Sebastian Gutierrez, based on an idea by Gutierrez, Carla Gugino and Williams and inspired by a story by Edgar Allan Poe; directors of photography, Stephen J. Nelson and Williams; edited by Amir Heshmati; production designer, Danielle Clemenza; produced by Bob Ford and Gugino; released by iTunes.

Starring Carla Gugino (Wife), Adam Arkin (Husband), Jesse Spencer (Lover) and Clifton Collins Jr. (Detective).


RELATED

Advertisements

Watchmen (2009, Zack Snyder), the director’s cut

This response will be double length. Well, double length minus ten words. Wait, twelve. No, fifteen. Well, you get the idea.

Watchmen doesn’t get a double post because it’s good. It gets a double post because it is, as far as I can tell, the first utterly pretentious film from a filmmaker–Zack Snyder–who seems to think an episode of “Gobots” is better than an episode of “Hill Street Blues.” I’m not sure even the premiere purveyor of crap–Stephen Sommers–would go so far. (This “Gobots” reference is made up, but it seems about right).

But Watchmen isn’t terrible in some ways. A friend of mine said it was a good case in point for the potential of superhero movies. Except, in this new wave of superhero movies, it doesn’t have a place. The comic book was a comment on the comic book industry–not to mention certain comic book creators’ political views (it’s not like Snyder’s commenting on Jon Favreau apparently being a rabidly anti-French dimwit)–and the film can’t possibly comment on any of the current wave of comic book films, because it’s an adaptation of the comic book. I read Snyder claim the film was his response, as the comic had been to comic books, to superhero movies. But it’s the stupidest thing I think I’ve heard since Walter Hill said he was going to improve on Kurosawa.

Watchmen has some good acting. Patrick Wilson is good, Jackie Earle Haley is good, Billy Crudup’s voice acting is decent, Jeffrey Dean Morgan isn’t terrible. With Haley and Wilson the ostensible leads, it works out all right. And the whole thing is such a spectacle, even the awful acting doesn’t ruin it. Matthew Goode is lousy. Carla Gugino’s performance as a sixty-seven year-old woman is hilariously awful and I probably would have been ejected from the theater for laughing at her hysterically. Malin Akerman gives one of the worst performances I can think of in a major studio film in the last twenty years. I have no evidence and I’m just guessing, but I think she got cast because she was willing to take her clothes off. Because it sure wasn’t because she had any acting ability. Her scenes with Wilson are awful.

The special effects aren’t terrible but the digital sets are lousy. The Vietnam scenes are without horizon lines, sort of pre-Renaissance. The soundtrack is atrocious. It might be the worst thing about Watchmen, besides Snyder’s slow motion effects and Ackerman’s non-acting. Snyder cheapens his scenes. It isn’t about how he adapted the comic book, it’s about how he turned it into an episode of the “Wonder Years” or something.

Worst might be how Snyder keeps showing the World Trade Center. It isn’t part of the 1985 New York cityscape, it’s an object he repeatedly focuses attention on. It’s pornographic. Especially in a story supposedly about a large number of people senselessly dying.

And it doesn’t feel like three hours.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Zack Snyder; screenplay by David Hayter and Alex Tse, based on the comic book by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons; director of photography, Larry Fong; edited by William Hoy; music by Tyler Bates; production designer, Alex McDowell; produced by Lawrence Gordon, Lloyd Levin and Deborah Snyder; released by Warner Bros. and Paramount Pictures.

Starring Malin Akerman (Laurie Jupiter / Silk Spectre II), Billy Crudup (Jon Osterman / Dr. Manhattan), Matthew Goode (Adrian Veidt / Ozymandias), Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach / Walter Kovacs), Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Edward Blake / The Comedian), Patrick Wilson (Dan Dreiberg / Nite Owl II), Carla Gugino (Sally Jupiter / Silk Spectre), Matt Frewer (Edgar Jacobi / Moloch), Stephen McHattie (Hollis Mason / Old Nite Owl), Laura Mennell (Janey Slater) and Rob LaBelle (Wally Weaver).


RELATED

Righteous Kill (2008, Jon Avnet)

I don’t know when I first realized De Niro and Pacino had never been in a movie together (really together)–it was long before Heat; their pairing doesn’t exactly seem obvious (both were always leading men), but something about their acting pedigree just made it seem natural. For example, Pacino’s never made a film with Scorsese and nothing feels off about it. Righteous Kill is a kind of passive movie event, thirteen years after Heat, thirty-four after The Godfather: Part II. Is there a reason for another pairing? No. Does anything substantive come out of this one? No. Is there a good reason for using rhetorical questions? Well, I’m trying to stay positive.

The big problem with Righteous Kill is the script. Russell Gewirtz manages a surprise ending–one very similar, actually, in form to his Inside Man ending–but there’s nothing in between. The perfect screenwriter for Kill is, as I think about it, Richard Price. He would have done the aging detective (something Gewirtz avoids in one of the script’s stupider moves), he would have done the New York setting (something else Gewirtz avoids–I’m amazed none of the movie shot in Canada), and he would have done an actual mystery. Gewirtz’s trick ending depends on a narrative with a constant absence of suspense (Jon Avnet being a wonderful directorial accomplice for that feature). The trick ending’s kind of neat, the way Gewirtz pulls it off and all, but it’s still a hollow gimmick ending. The movie has no meat to it, which might be the point. Righteous Kill was rumored to be headed straight-to-DVD and there’s nothing about it, past the leads, to make it special. Avnet shoots it 2.35:1, but it’s Super 35… so they could have just as easily printed it for anamorphic DVD.

With the script so failing–it’s amusing in parts, but most of my time was spent trying to imagine how I’d experience if they’d just told a straight story–there’s not much the cast can do with it. De Niro phones in his typical performance and Pacino phones in his. They’re in the same room, both on the phone at the same time, but there’s no reference to their pairing and the novelty of it. Had they referenced Godfather and Heat, at least the self-awareness would earn them some slack. Of the two, Pacino has more visible fun. De Niro’s can’t hide his boredom.

The supporting cast, which seems great, really isn’t. Carla Gugino is goofy in the kind of role she always plays now. Both John Leguizamo and Donnie Wahlberg are good. Brian Dennehy doesn’t work, mostly for the same age problems De Niro and Pacino have… it’s never believable these guys are still just detectives. The movie doesn’t acknowledge their age.

Alan Rosenberg shows up for a second and is, unfortunately, unimpressive. In a similarly small role, Melissa Leo is good. Trilby Glover is good in a small part… but Gewirtz neglects the character after a while.

With the last Pacino and Avnet pairing–88 Minutes–I bemoaned the state of Pacino’s career (I just hadn’t been seeing enough of his recent stuff, I’m sure). Righteous Kill will now be another bewildering entry on both he and De Niro’s filmographies. I keep thinking it should have been good (or better), but maybe not. Pacino and De Niro as old cops… eh.

If Price was busy, what about Mamet? Mamet could have directed too.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Jon Avnet; written by Russell Gewirtz; director of photography, Denis Lenoir; edited by Paul Hirsch; music by Ed Shearmur; production designer, Tracey Gallacher; produced by Avnet, Avi Lerner, Boaz Davidson, Randall Emmett, Daniel M. Rosenberg, Alexandra Milchan, Rob Cowan and Lati Grobman; released by Overture Films.

Starring Robert De Niro (Turk), Al Pacino (Rooster), Curtis Jackson (Spider), Carla Gugino (Karen Corelli), John Leguizamo (Detective Perez), Donnie Wahlberg (Detective Riley), Brian Dennehy (Lieutenant Hingis), Trilby Glover (Jessica), Saidah Arrika Ekulona (Gwen Darvis), Alan Rosenberg (Stein), Sterling K. Brown (Rogers), Barry Primus (Prosky), Melissa Leo (Cheryl Brooks), Alan Blumenfeld (Martin Baum) and Oleg Taktarov (Yevgeny Mugalat).


RELATED

Rise: Blood Hunter (2007, Sebastian Gutierrez)

How did the producers of Rise: Blood Hunter ever get cinematography superstar John Toll to shoot this movie? Piles of money, I assume. Probably the same piles of money they used to get Michael Chiklis to play a toned-down version of Vic Mackey. I was thinking, as Chiklis was confronting vampire slash vampire killer Lucy Liu, it played a lot like a TV show–not a bad TV show, maybe a Showtime pilot or something reasonable–except for the cinematography. John Toll is shooting Sam Raimi’s “for foreign markets” garbage. Amazing.

Rise is actually a pretty harmless, personality-free affair. The direction is not kinetic action, which I was expecting (and even hoping for after Liu went through bad guy after bad guy with no variation), but it’s as competent as a… Showtime show. The writing is really goofy. It kept reminding me of Count Yorga, but without the acknowledgment of its goofiness. It’s sad when a silly movie is unable to accept itself and really embrace the possibilities.

One big problem is the vampire set-up. They can go out in the daytime, they sleep in beds, they drink liquor, they don’t fly, they don’t have fangs, they aren’t stronger than normal people… they’re really boring. The lack of anything interesting is what makes Rise, an otherwise pedestrian effort, so unique. It’s like everyone showed up and made a movie, but no one cared what was going on. I’ve never seen a film with a writer slash director (would he qualify as an auteur?) so disinterested in his own film. Characters and subplots fall off all over–and it’s not an eight-three minute movie or a seventy-eight. It runs ninety-eight, which is perfectly respectable.

Some of the casting is good. I don’t know if I’m being unfair to Chiklis, but I doubt it. A goatee appears and disappears and he strokes it when he thinks–working on a case he’s not supposed to be working on. I couldn’t help thinking they cast him just because he already knew the right way to hold a gun from his “Shield” training, so they wouldn’t have to pay anyone else. Elden Henson–who I’d forgotten about–shows up for a few scenes and he’s good. Mako’s kind of funny. Holt McCallany, omnipresent in the 1990s, pops in for a bit. Carla Gugino is in it for a few scenes and is terrible. As the lead (her name isn’t Rise, which makes the title a little obnoxious–I think they were trying to convince people it was from a comic book so they’d go see it), Lucy Liu is fine. When she’s the reporter for the weekly, trying to get stories, she’s good. As the tortured vampire killer, she’s okay. The role’s stupid. It’s not so much badly written as just… dumb. Gutierrez is a hack.

There are some blood effects and Nick Lachey and Marilyn Manson both have cameos, suggesting someone involved in the film was either desperate to get it some attention or he or she has a definite range of friends (they aren’t in the same scene together, unfortunately).

I think the film got a theatrical release. Ah, it was limited. It’s probably in Raimi’s contract all his crap gets theatrical releases of some kind.

Robert Forster has a cameo at the beginning. It’s funny and he’s good in it. Maybe they should have hired a better writer and eighty-sixed the vampire malarky and had the cast make an engaging newspaper picture instead.

Terrible music, can’t forget about that noise. Does a real disservice to Toll’s lightning to have that lousy music play over it.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by Sebastian Gutierrez; director of photography, John Toll; edited by Lisa Bromwell and Robb Sullivan; music by Nathan Barr; production designer, Jerry Fleming; produced by Greg Shapiro and Carsten H.W. Lorenz; released by Samuel Goldwyn Films.

Starring Lucy Liu (Sadie), Michael Chiklis (Rawlins), Carla Gugino (Eve), James D’Arcy (Bishop), Mako (Poe), Holt McCallany (Rourke), Elden Henson (Taylor) and Robert Forster (Lloyd).


RELATED