Tag Archives: Ray Liotta

Ridley Scott

If there’s one hallmark of Ridley Scott is that you’ll be hard pressed to forget any of his movies. His ability to create atmosphere is one of the best in the business. He definitely knows how to raise the goosebumps. However, he seems to a bit lacking in character development, which I definitely crave more of as I get older. Can any of my readers enlighten me as to whether or not he’s improved upon this in the last ten years?

Blade Runner: This movie (based on Philip K. Dick’s “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?”) may have my favorite cyper-punk dystopian vision of the future. To this day the movie is still breathtaking. Harrison Ford plays a blade runner, an enforcement agent tasked with finding and terminating replicants, man-made human slaves gone rogue. I love the ideas here, especially the Voight-Kampff tests designed to detect replicants by asking them benign questions. But oh boy does this movie have a lot of problems. Ford’s character is so callous and cold that I was actually rooting against him by the end. There’s a rape scene which is just brutal and completely out-of-nowhere. In fact, it’s too much like a Christopher Nolan movie in that it’s more or less devoid of emotion, which this story needs in spades. I watched the Director’s Cut, which apparently has a better ending and eschews some god-awful narration by Ford. I’m glad I watched the movie; it certainly made the computer game more enjoyable. But it’s current ranking at IMDb as the 126th best movie of all-time is kind of embarrassing.

Grade: C+

Hannibal: Very stylish follow-up to The Silence of the Lambs, which focuses more on Hannibal than detective Starling. Unfortunately, Foster bowed out and was replaced by Julianne Moore. I like Moore, but I don’t think she was the best choice for Starling and the lack of chemistry in this movie severely dampened the emotional impact the first movie had. That said, the atmosphere is fantastic, dark and horrifying. Anthony Hopkins is great once again.

Grade: B

Alien: Incredibly horrifying movie. Scott is a master of suspense here, creating a claustrophobic environment where the scares rely mostly on the unknown (and some great shooting). Sigourney Weaver is great. I really need to watch this again.

Grade: A-

Gladiator: Loosely based on the lives of Maximus and Commodus, Russel Crowe shines as the former, avenging the murder of his wife and death and engaging in Coliseum battles, trying to survive as a gladiator. Oliver Reed’s final movie. Joaquin Phoenix puts in a masterful performance as Commodus. We are supposed to hate his character and he makes it very, very easy. As is usual with Scott, the visuals are stunning. The story isn’t perfect and is just a teeny bit too manipulative for my tastes.

Grade: A-

Other Ridley Scott Movies You May Have Seen

Prometheus
American Gangster
Black Hawk Down
Kingdom of Heaven
Robin Hood (2010)
Body of Lies
Matchstick Men
Thelma & Louise
A Good Year
G.I. Jane
Legend
Black Rain
1492: Conquest of Paradise

Martin Scorsese

Scorsese is hailed as one of the best directors of all-time, and sadly I’ve only seen a handful of his movies. From what I’ve read, he likes to focus a lot on male characters (especially Robert DeNiro and Leonardo DiCaprio) coping with their own inadequacies, mirroring his own struggles and fantasies. Regardless, his directing abilities are as hailed from what I’ve seen. The camera always seems to be in the right place, and he gets exceptional performances out of most of his actors. I haven’t been a huge fan of the stories he chooses, so I’m a bit hesitant to just plow through his lengthy filmography. Of course, I’ll take recommendations from my lovely readers.

The Departed: While I like this film, I’m definitely in the minority for not thinking it’s one of the best of all-time. Currently, it is ranked #49 at the IMDb. Roger Ebert gave it four stars, though he did seem to give every movie four stars in the last several years of his life. The Departed is a remake of a Hong Kong film called Infernal Affairs, where one boy recruited by the mob (Matt Damon)  infiltrates the Boston police department, while one boy recruited by the Boston police department (Leonard DiCaprio) infiltrates the mob. It’s a fun, tangled web, and DiCaprio is superb, but I just never really got into the movie. I felt Jack Nicholson gave an uninspired performance as the mob boss. The police psychologist’s motivations felt completely unbelievable to me. And I felt little attachment to any of the characters, leaving me not all that interested in how it ended. Ebert says the movie is a lot about Catholic guilt, something Scorsese is intimately familiar with. Perhaps if I understood that I would have enjoyed it more.

Grade: B-

Hugo: A charming fantasy about an orphan boy in 1930’s Paris who lives inside the walls of a train station and has to solve a mystery surrounding one of his father’s automatons. Asa Butterfield, who plays the boy, is excellent, ultimately believable. The always delightful Chloe Moretz is great as well, making Hugo possibly the best assembly of pre-pubescent acting I’ve seen. Ben Kinglsey, not quite pre-pubescent, is also solid. Unfortunately, the plot itself lost my interest about half-way through. The excellent acting, directing, and cinematography kept me going through the end.

Grade: B-

The Color of Money: I haven’t seen this movie in a long time, and my memory has faded. What I do remember is that I loved Paul Newman’s performance as the old-school pool hustler. The story has its ups and down, and there’s no payoff to the mentor/pupil cliches, but it’s enjoyable to watch. What I need to do is watch The Hustler with Newman and Gleason. Someday..

Grade; B-

Goodfellas: For as long as I can remember, I always wanted to be a gangster. Ray Liotta narrates the first line of this epic gangster movie that rivals The Godfather in many ways. Liotta dreams of having the freedom he believes he’ll have if he can get into the mafia. He works his way in, generally happy as he’s working his way up the hierarchy, but then the shit gets really real and he wonders whether this is really the life for him. Based on the life of Henry Hill who worked with Liotta, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci while the film was being made. The acting is tremendous all around, with special props to Pesci, who is so good you can easily forget his comedic characters while watching. If you liked The Godfather, there’s a good chance you’ll like this as well.

Grade: A

Other Martin Scorsese Films You May Have Seen

Taxi Driver
Raging Bull
Casino
The Last Waltz
Shutter Island
The King of Comedy
After Hours
The Last Temptation of Christ
Gangs of New York
The Aviator
Cape Fear