Tag Archives: Gary Cole

Office Space (1999, Mike Judge)

Office Space is the model of efficiency. Judge never races through things, he just tells them really fast or implies them. There’s the fantastic opening montage of everyone going to work, which ought to be a clue to who is and isn’t going to be important in the film, and then things just breeze along as he establishes the ground situation.

I’ve seen the film multiple times and never remembered Ron Livingston–the lead–has a girlfriend when it starts. I also didn’t realize the girlfriend (Alexandra Wentworth) never even speaks to him onscreen.

Judge clearly cut this thing a lot and the result is one of those outstanding examples of how post production can make something shine.

The film has the perfect comedy recipe–great cast, great lines, great plotting. The film only stumbles during the end of the second act, but Judge moves it along as fast as he can, almost like he knew he was in bumpy territory.

Livingston’s great in the lead, with excellent support from David Herman and Ajay Naidu as his sidekicks. Diedrich Bader’s hilarious. All the work boobs are great–the outtakes of Gary Cole, John C. McGinley and Paul Willson must be amazing.

Jennifer Aniston sadly gets nothing to do. She’s the likable love interest. She’s good at it but so what.

Obviously, Stephen Root runs off with the picture. Or, more appropriately, shuffles off with it. He’s got a really tough role and he nails it.

Judge cooks a great comedy.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Mike Judge; director of photography, Tim Suhrstedt; edited by David Rennie; music by John Frizzell; production designer, Edward T. McAvoy; produced by Daniel Rappaport, Michael Rotenberg and Judge; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring Ron Livingston (Peter Gibbons), David Herman (Michael Bolton), Ajay Naidu (Samir Nagheenanajar), Greg Pitts (Drew), Stephen Root (Milton Waddams), Gary Cole (Bill Lumbergh), Richard Riehle (Tom Smykowski), Diedrich Bader (Lawrence), John C. McGinley (Bob Slydell), Paul Willson (Bob Porter), Todd Duffey (Brian), Orlando Jones (Steve), Joe Bays (Dom Portwood) and Jennifer Aniston (Joanna).


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Batman: Under the Red Hood (2010, Brandon Vietti)

Apparently, given the chance, comic book writers write screenplays just like comic books. Sitting through Under the Red Hood is not an unpleasant experience–Bruce Greenwood, voice alone, is the best Batman since Michael Keaton, animated or actual–but it’s got an atrocious plot structure.

First, the movie would be unintelligible for anyone who didn’t read Batman comics. Screenwriter Judd Winick (who also wrote some of the comics this movie’s based on) has an endless amount of costumed characters show up. It’s firmly set in the comic book world, which makes it fail as a filmic narrative.

Fail might be a little harsh. Red Hood doesn’t succeed, but it isn’t Winick’s fault. Besides Greenwood, most of the voice acting is terrible. Jensen Ackles, voicing a grownup, evil Robin, finally answers the question about Batman and Robin’s sexual relationship–I’m pretty sure Cyrano never sounded as amorous as Ackles does when talking to Greenwood’s Batman. I wonder if they recorded together.

Even worse is John Di Maggio’s Joker. The character’s written as a lunatic, but Di Maggio plays a vicious thug instead, presumably a Dark Knight influence.

Speaking of influences, there’s a nice little homage to the Adam West show and lots of the production design owes to the Tim Burton films. It’s a very good looking animated movie when the poorly illustrated characters aren’t running around.

If it had just been a bit better plotted, it would have been much better. Still, might be worth a viewing for Greenwood’s performance.

1/4

CREDITS

Directed by Brandon Vietti; screenplay by Judd Winick, based on comic books by Jim Starlin, Jim Aparo, Winick and Doug Mahnke and on characters created by Bob Kane; edited by Margaret Hou; music by Christopher Drake; produced by Bruce W. Timm and Bobbie Page; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring Bruce Greenwood (Batman), Jensen Ackles (Red Hood), John Di Maggio (The Joker), Neil Patrick Harris (Nightwing), Jason Isaacs (Ra’s al Ghul), Wade Williams (Black Mask), Gary Cole (Commissioner Gordon), Kelly Hu (Ms. Li), Vincent Martella (Robin) and Jim Piddock (Alfred Pennyworth).


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Conspiracy (2008, Adam Marcus)

Well, Val Kilmer’s gone all the way. After some serious flirtation over the last few years, he’s finally made it to the under ninety minute direct-to-video action movie. But, given he’s Val Kilmer and he’s difficult, Conspiracy is no simple ex-Marine direct-to-video revenge action movie. Oh, no, with the director and screenwriter of Jason Goes to Hell: The Final Friday, Kilmer’s taking on Halliburton. Well, it’s not called Halliburton, it’s called Halicorp and its CEO (played by Gary Cole) is actually George W. Bush–from the lines about the unworked hands doing nothing but counting money–mixed with a little Dick Cheney–he really, really likes guns. There’s also a whole bit about Cole running a vigilante border patrol, which I’m not sure Halliburton’s CEO actually does. The whole border thing works into Conspiracy‘s message about Republicans war profiteering then paying illegal immigrants instead of citizens….

There are actually a couple neat things in the movie. The political angle, when it’s not being spotlighted, is sort of amusing. It’s strange to see. There’s also a good surprise for Val Kilmer’s character. Unfortunately, Conspiracy never addresses the fact Kilmer’s grossly obese. Maybe if it had been about him being grossly obese, it would have been more like an actual narrative. Like if the stunt double hadn’t been some über-fit young guy. But the obesity is never addressed and the backstory makes little sense, especially given Kilmer’s age. And the flashbacks with the big Kilmer don’t seem reasonable.

The movie’s real cheap–there’s maybe one or two squibs in the whole thing–and Marcus is somewhat inventive. He’s no good as a director, but there’s the occasional sign he’s trying. Except for the first act, when there’s no score, just poorly chosen country music. Apparently, the whole thing is just an uncredited rip-off of Bad Day in Black Rock. Conspiracy takes place in an old West town, with some lame excuse in the story about Cole building a theme park or some nonsense. I’m assuming it was cheap to film on an old West set. And the Dunkin’ Donuts being there is actually pretty funny.

Until the political rhetoric starts, the only thing keeping Conspiracy interesting is watching Kilmer debase himself. Kilmer doesn’t even pretend to do anything interesting. Cole’s got some amusing moments playing the Mr. Big, but Kilmer’s got nothing. Except the scenes with kids. All the kid actors with lines are awful, but Kilmer plays those scenes really well. Adds a nice layer, or at least it suggests Kilmer’s still capable of adding layers. The only other actor with a recognizable name, Jennifer Esposito is pretty bad.

Conspiracy is another of the made in New Mexico movies Kilmer has taken to do… I figure he just drives twenty minutes or so and gets free Dunkin’ Donuts, but this one is a piece of crap, versus the one I saw previously (Blind Horizon). Conspiracy really needed a decent writer and a decent director. Eventually, when Kilmer goes Rambo (as my wife put it–she also pointed out Stallone’s much older than Kilmer and in far better shape), Marcus should have been able to do something cost effective. Instead, he went goofy.

I mean, the best acting work Kilmer’s done in a couple years has been a guest spot on “Numb3rs,” which is almost as embarrassing as having Conspiracy in your oeuvre.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Adam Marcus; written by Marcus and Debra Sullivan; director of photography, Ben Weinstein; edited by Eric L. Beason; music by Sujin Nam; produced by Gilbert Dumontet and Alison Semenza; released by Stage 6 Films.

Starring Val Kilmer (MacPherson), Gary Cole (Rhodes), Jennifer Esposito (Joanna), Jay Jablonski (Deputy Foster), Greg Serano (Miguel Silva), Stacy Marie Warden (Carly), Christopher Gehrman (E.B.) and Bob Rumnock (Sherrif Bock).


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Mozart and the Whale (2005, Petter Næss)

I’ve only been looking forward to this damn movie for two years. It missed its theatrical release date, but there’s probably a DVD on the way (which would have been the source of my illicit copy). It’s perfectly understandable why the film missed the date… it lacks any relatable center. My fiancée just said she wants a movie that shows the real difficulties of autism–Mozart doesn’t, because you can’t center a movie around someone operating on such a different level. The result, for Mozart and the Whale, is that Josh Hartnett isn’t really that bad… neither’s Rahda Mitchell. Their problems aren’t autism problems, they’re romantic drama-lite problems….

Mozart and the Whale was going to be the comeback of Ron Bass, who got a lot of work from the late 1980s through the late 1990s, when people finally got sick of him. He probably shouldn’t have staked it all on a Demi Moore vehicle (Passion of the Mind). It’s a shallow film, weighing in at ninety minutes. Many of these minutes are filled with music montages (not score, unfamiliar, but pleasant, songs). I spent the first half of it waiting for something to happen (hoping that Gary Cole was going to be Hartnett’s father and there’d be some more meat to the conflict)… but no. There’s no real conflict in Mozart, which would have been fine, it’s just that there was an attempt at it. A weighty attempt at it. Bass is famous for empty, dramatic endings and Mozart is no different.

It’s too bad, because Næss is an interesting director. Mozart doesn’t look like anything except itself, which is a lovely thing to be able to say about a newish director. He’s from Norway, so maybe that played a part… Oddly, for a film without a US theatrical release and a ninety minute running time, Mozart actually shot in the US. You can tell it throughout (I didn’t know where the location was–it’s Spokane) and the film has a nice feel.

The acting in the film is difficult to discuss–my fiancée gleefully pointed out I’d no longer be able to say Hartnett’s his generation’s finest actor, but he gives a great supporting performance in Mozart. If Mozart and the Whale had been about Billy Crudup banging his autistic brother’s girlfriend or something, Hartnett’s performance would have been extraordinary. It’s a character part in the lead… Mitchell (who I was really looking forward to seeing after Melinda and Melinda) ranges. The film misses her character’s best opportunity.

I wonder if there is a longer, better version of the film out there–there are a few moments, jumps in visual continuity, that certainly suggest it. But I’m not sure it would make much of a difference.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Petter Næss; written by Ronald Bass; director of photography, Svein Krøvel; edited by Lisa Zeno Churgin and Miklos Wright; music by Deborah Lurie; production designer, Jon Gary Steele; produced by James Acheson, Bass, Boaz Davidson, Frank DeMartini and Robert Lawrence; released by Millennium Films.

Starring Josh Hartnett (Donald Morton), Radha Mitchell (Isabelle Sorenson), Gary Cole (Wallace), Sheila Kelley (Janice), Erica Leerhsen (Bronwin), John Carroll Lynch (Gregory), Nate Mooney (Roger), Rusty Schwimmer (Gracie), Robert Wisdom (Blume), Allen Evangelista (Skeets), Kelly B. Eviston (Dr. Trask) and Jhon Goodwin (Rodney).