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Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)


Roman J. Israel, Esq. (2017)

What is not to like about the thought of Denzel Washington being an attorney?  His track record speaks for itself.  He is a man who can become anyone.  I do not remember the last time I was disappointed in a Denzel Washington movie.  He is one of the most consistently extraordinary actors of our time.  So, of course I wanted to see Roman J. Israel, Esq.

The film is about a stubborn savant, Roman J. Israel, Esq.  He is a diligent and methodical defense attorney, who is hopelessly stuck in his ways.  When his career is flipped upside down, it sends his ritualistic life spiraling out of control.

The movie was written and directed by Dan Gilroy and the noteworthy cast includes Denzel Washington, Colin Farrell, Carmen Ejogo, and Tony Plana.

Great quote from the film:  “Every weapon is a tool if you hold it the right way.”

This is not a great movie.  This is a meticulous, one man freight train, and immersive performance by an iconic heavyweight, Denzel Washington.  This is eloquence in motion and an exercise in character.

In Roman J. Israel, Esq., Denzel becomes his character down to the gap in his front teeth, glasses, mini fro, headphones, precision in speech, mannerisms, and tendencies.  He is a diligent and unique man who sticks to his guns, and is still stubbornly listening to records and using paper files.  He is an eccentric-minded “Rain Man-like” attorney of sorts

The movie itself, is not anything special.  It is good until about halfway through and then it starts to lose its momentum.  Denzel keeps it afloat and it sort of redeems itself at the end.

Colin Farrell’s character wafts badass arrogance.  His role is a good one, but feels like an afterthought.

Overall this is a great performance in an about average movie.  Denzel takes a mediocre film and makes it watchable.  It is an Oscar caliber performance.  He is submerged in his character.  He has multiple performances that are better than this one, but his character dominance in this movie brings it up a notch and makes it worth seeing.

I rate this movie a 7 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Training Day (2001)

The Hurricane (1999)

Flight (2012)

Déjà vu (2006)

American Gangster (2007)

Inside Man (2006)

The Manchurian Candidate (2004)

Man on Fire (2004)

Antwone Fisher (2002)

John Q. (2002)

Remember the Titans (2000)

The Bone Collector (1999)

Philadelphia (1993)

Ricochet (1991)

Glory (1989)

2 Guns (2013)

The Equalizer (2014)

Out of Time (2003)

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All the Money in the World (2017)


All the Money in the World (2017)

When I think of All the Money in the World, it is hard not to think about everything that happened with Kevin Spacey and the bad publicity that surrounded this film because of him.  It is my understanding that the movie was just about completed when the news came out about his sexual allegations.

(This is my review of All the Money in the World, but I feel that it is important to talk first about the cloud of negativity that hovered over this movie before its release.  There is a certain amount of hypocrisy that has been a part of the Hollywood machine for many years.  It still is today).

I think that the producers of the movie agreed that All the Money in the World was guaranteed to bomb at the box office because of Spacey.  So how did they resolve this problem?  The same way that Netflix resolved their Spacey problem with the infamous House of Cards firing, they cut him out of the film completely.  They brought Christopher Plummer in to replace him.  Then they had to reshoot all of Spacey’s scenes with Plummer instead.  How that will pan out with the Netflix Original Series House of Cards is yet to be seen, but that is a topic for a different day.

Spacey was originally billed second.  His character was a big deal to the film.  They had to bring in the other actors and redo a good chunk of the whole movie so that they could replace him.  This all had to be done with only weeks remaining until the film was due to be released!

I read that it took about 9 days to completely reshoot the necessary scenes to cut Kevin Spacey completely out of All the Money in the World.  That is insane if you think about it.  Ridley Scott did what they thought would be impossible to try to salvage the film.

Now, if that was not enough, more controversy instantly surfaced about the reshoots.  Apparently, Walhberg negotiated that he would get paid somewhere in the millions of dollars if he had to film any extra scenes.  He has a good agent and he is one of the highest paid actors out there, so this comes as no surprise right?  Wrong.  To stir things up more, now all of a sudden, people were complaining because he got paid far more than Michelle Williams or any of the other actors for his reshoots.  They were paid thousands and he was paid millions.  The complaint was that there should be closer to equal pay for all involved.

I am all for women’s rights.  I am glad that they were able to erase Spacey from this film because of his sexual misconduct.  They should have cracked down on all of that years ago.  We all know, and they all know that people in power in Hollywood have been taking advantage of that power for far too long and nothing has really been done about it until recently.

However, I believe in the free market.  People should be able to negotiate their worth.  They get paid for what they contribute.  The superstars get paid more because they bring more to the table.  That is how it always has been and how it always should be.  If you want to look at equal pay between men and women in Hollywood, I think you need to look deeper into the fact that Hollywood treats women like objects.  Hollywood writers do not write many quality roles for women.  Instead women are seen as window dressing and men are made out to be the heroes.  That is not a problem with the actors or actresses.  That is a problem with the filmmakers, and ultimately the big production companies that have gotten big for a reason, because they know how to make money.

What does Mark Wahlberg do when he hears that many people believe that he got overpaid and he is looked at as being part of the problem?  Marky Mark turns around and donates all of the extra millions of dollars that he made for reshoots to “Time’s Up” in Michelle Williams name.

All of the Money in the World is based on true events.  It is about a teenage boy who is kidnapped and held for ransom because his grandfather is the richest man in the world.  The grandfather will not pay the ransom, and the boy’s mother is forced to do whatever is in her power to try to get her son back.

The movie was directed by Ridley Scott and the noteworthy cast includes Michelle Williams, Christopher Plummer, Mark Wahlberg, Timothy Hutton, Charlie Plummer, Romain Duris, Charlie Shotwell, Andrew Buchan, and Marco Leonardi.

Ridley Scott generally knows how to get a film done right.  He has got the process down.  Sometimes the expectation is higher than the outcome, however.  This is the case with this movie.  It is well made to a point.  It jumps around a lot.  Usually that is OK to tell a story, but it makes this film feel a little choppy.  It also seems to take away from how we feel about the characters in the story.  We are not given much of a chance to really like and care about the people in the movie.  If we do not care much about the characters, then we do not care much about what happens to them.

I think that this disconnect exists in the movie because it is in fact, based on true events.  They follow the story line of what happened in real life, but they do not give you much reason to like the characters.  This strongly takes away from how good the movie could be.  It is good up to a point, without the possibility of being better.

Christopher Plummer got nominated for an Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for this movie.  He was part of the film for 9 days of reshoots.  With all of the chaos that surrounded All the Money in the World, it seems like Hollywood was just throwing the movie a bone when they nominated Plummer for an Oscar.  He is a solid actor and he was good in this film, but not Oscar good.  Not even close.  I think that this is a case of Hollywood trying to recoup their investment and show praise for Ridley Scott’s ability to get the job done that needed to get done.  If there is an Oscar nomination of any kind for a movie, it pretty much guarantees that people will see it.  It is sort of like the media.  They tell you what they want you to hear.  In this case, they tell you what they want you to watch.

I cannot help but wonder, what the other version of the film with Spacey was like.  With my tainted view of him as an actor at this point, I would have hated the movie.  It was definitely the right thing to do replacing him.  I used to be big fan of Spacey, but it is amazing how quickly your view of someone changes once their true colors bleed through.

Overall, the movie was good, but not that good.  It is an interesting true story that was certainly worth telling.  It felt rushed, because it actually was rushed.  I feel that with more thought placed on character development, the movie could have been a lot better.

I rate this movie a 6.5 on a scale of 1-10.

 

If you liked this film then you might also enjoy:

 

Captain Phillips (2013)

John Q. (2002)

Proof of Life (2000)

Hostage (2005)

Inside Man (2006)

The Negotiator (1998)

Ransom (1996)

Broken City (2013)

Lone Survivor (2013)