Back In The Day

Way back in the day, when things were simple, and there was far less to bitch about.

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Posts Tagged ‘based on a true story’

Taking Woodstock

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on June 12, 2010


It’s so hard to watch films about music during this time period and not wish I had been around for it. True story: My father is so impatient that he turned around on his way to Woodstock due to traffic. I will never forgive him for that. The film Taking Woodstock isn’t so much about the music as it is about the man who ‘saved’ it. That man is Elliot Tiber in reality, and this film is based off his book (co-written with Tom Monte) about how Woodstock came to be in his home town. It’s a film that is much more about a young man’s struggle with his family and his own identity; it’s a story of self-discovery, of independence, Read the rest of this entry »


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The Runaways

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on May 23, 2010


Dakota Fanning as a sex symbol, oh my!

I realize that with my addition of pictures within my reviews, I have gotten a bit more tongue-in-cheek for the last bunch. Part of that is because the pictures lend themselves to a comedic slant, and another part is because the films don’t play into a more serious sort of review. I don’t intend to have that attitude in all of my reviews, but I will try to work with pictures, regardless. People seem to enjoy how the visuals break up my long-winded reviews. Additionally, I am playing with themes to get the pictures to format properly, so bear with me and let me know what you think when you see a new theme pop up!

The Runaways is a film about the 1970s all-girl teen rock band of the same name, specifically about the inception of the band and its beginning years with its original members. It specifically focuses on the two leads of the band, Joan Jett and Cherie Currie. While the film gives us a good understanding of Currie’s background, it leaves Jett’s story mostly in the dark, which I found somewhat odd as Jett was really the brains of the whole operation and the most musically successful member of the band. I knew who Joan Jett was before I walked into the theatre; I couldn’t tell you anything about Cherie Currie except that someone in the band was named “something like Cherry”. I really don’t want to get into specifics about the band history and all, because not only will I just be rewriting this biopic, but I’ll be constantly checking my information and this is not why I write film reviews! So, allow me to get into a little more of the nitty-gritty of the film, and please forgive me for not nitpicking some of the inaccuracies that it included (though I believe those were kept to a minimum since both Jett and Currie were involved in the making of the film). Read the rest of this entry »

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Public Enemies

Posted by Cantankerous Panda on August 23, 2009



Director: Michael Mann

Written by: Ronan Bennett, Michael Mann, Ann Biderman; book “Public Enemies: America’s Greatest Crime Wave and the Birth of the FBI, 1933-34” by Bryan Burrough

Starring: Johnny Depp, Christian Bale, Marion Cotillard, Billy Crudup, Stephen Dorff, Jason Clarke, Stephen Graham, Emilie de Ravin, Giovanni Ribisi

Recommended? Yes, but with a disclaimer.

Disclaimer being: IT IS LONG. It is a long movie that sort of hops back and forth between short bursts of action and “near misses” with the FBI.

This film is based on the true story of John Dillinger, the famous and beloved bank robber. The people simply adored him, and because of this, he was able to hide in their midst. J. Edgar Hoover HATED Dillinger and became so obsessed with catching him that, legend has it, he had a whole “shrine” of Dillinger items that he kept after Dillinger’s death, basically as trophies. There’s your background info.

As for how the film progressed, I will admit one thing: it’s not fast-paced. At all. The action is really wonderfully realistic (I say this as if I’ve seen real gunfights before) and it’s fun, but the entire film less action and more build-up to the inevitable fate of Dillinger, or even just build-up to each individual robbery/predicament in which Dillinger finds himself. It’s enjoyable to watch, certainly, but it’s not the greatest film of the year.

What carries the film is the performances, but only one of the two leads is compelling. Johnny Depp can do no wrong, it seems, and his portrayal of Dillinger is no exception. He’s every bit the cocky (and cocksure) public enemy, and you cannot help but love the man. Depp is the perfect actor to cast in a bad guy role where the audience has to want the bad guy to win. As for Christian Bale, well, I could have done without him. Maybe I’m missing something about Bale, but I haven’t really enjoyed a performance from him since American Psycho. There was nothing particularly interesting about his character, which may be because the real-life FBI Agent Purvis was lacking, the script was lacking, or Bale was simply lacking. I didn’t quite buy his Americaness in this film, either, which bugged me since he is playing a decent role in a chunk of American history. I found his entire performance to be fairly bland, and I didn’t even care when he stood up to Hoover. Speaking of Hoover, Billy Crudup was nearly unrecognizable with his clothes on and without the blue skintone. I don’t believe that he looked a lot like Hoover, but he definitely had the creepy, dodgy, man with too much power act down to a tee, and I bought the role. For the duration of the film, Crudup absolutely WAS J. Edgar Hoover, and I didn’t like him one bit (which, of course, is the point).

As for the female roles, Marion Cotillard was terribly likeable and adorable as Dillinger’s girlfriend Billie. She had a very classic look to her, as well, which made me quite happy. She reminded me very much of the actresses of the golden era of Hollywood, and that fit very nicely into the timeframe of the film. She was equally sweet and sexy, innocent and resourceful, susceptible and strong. I thought she was rather delightful. Emilie de Ravin played Anna, better known as “The Lady in Red”, and I didn’t really find her performance to be particularly noteworthy. That might be due the fact that her role wasn’t really major. She wasn’t bad, but I just don’t think there’s much to say about her. I mention her because she’s the second female lead, which doesn’t say much in a movie that revolves around men and their guns.

Overall, it’s a movie you can enjoy if you don’t mind the pace, but don’t expect it to be the most amazing gangster movie you’ve ever seen. It’s also a fun film for Johnny Depp fans of all sorts, and his performance is awesome, as per usual. I recommend this film to serious film-goers who can handle a bit of a slow-paced film mixed with some enjoyable shoot-outs.

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