Movie Reviews

The Paxton Configuration tries to focus on certain types of films: genre, cult classics, crime and noir and/or, if worthy, new releases. The older reviews from the pre-format days (where any genre was reviewed) are at the bottom.


"But in Taxi Driver, De Niro mixes vulnerability into his menace. Travis Bickle is likable, in some ways, and pitiable, in other ways, despite an internal monologue that shows a disturbed individual who, after a certain point, has only the cruelest of intentions. Only a great actor can make you still feel something for a character who has so little to offer in the way of sympathy".

"And Haywire is, secretly, all about Bill Paxton. I've already written the fanfic … er … screenplay in which Paxton's character of John Kane was really a super spy who found Haywire's main character Mallory Kane abandoned in a poppy field in Vietnam while he was undercover, infiltrating a joint CIA-Viet Cong stronghold. He sets off a nuke and everything. It's great. Paxton".

"The realism depicted in the film goes deeper than just normalizing gorgeous celebrities ... it shows you the hidden dimensions of the perceivably perfect house surrounded by a white picket fence".

"Andrew Dominik, the director of Killing Them Softly, stated that his intention was to show how the economic collapse of 2008 affected not just normal Americans but criminals as well. And nothing is felt more under the pulse of grim desperation and impending violence in this film than the need to get money. For what purpose? Just to have it ... because the person next to you doesn't have it".

"Director [Ron] Shelton, I believe, never gets a lot of credit for how immersive his films are physically. Part of what made Bull Durham work was how immersed the audience was in rural America. The urban decay of White Man Can't Jump is due to Shelton refusing to shoot anywhere but the authentic areas in which the story takes place. He does the same in Dark Blue, shooting the film in the most dangerous and run down areas of Los Angeles. This attention to detail gives the figurative descent into hell a physical and literal playground".

"Wahlberg, never exactly a three dimensional thespian, plays the Sam Spade-esque private dick well here. If Wahlberg does anything well as an actor, it is his intensity. Broken City does a great job of showing the grey inside Taggert".

"The film is layered with a sense of nature: water, ashes, fire, snow and wind are all major themes and they are displayed beautifully, if not hauntingly. And the way Scorsese relates these real life elements to a very realistic dreamworld makes the film's story seem like nothing more than a elaborate stage play of some one's imagination".

"I obviously highly recommend this one. I think Jimmy Cagney is one of the greatest actors in history. I also love Ann Sheridan intensely. I am simply flustered by her beauty and cant see how actresses today are 'sexy' compared to her mixture of innocence and world weary experience".

"Like a lot of period films with ambition, Hoffa sweats the small stuff and does it well. Costumes, set design, period specific backgrounds and music all hit the mark ... the only thing lacking is a solid emotional foundation. Jimmy Hoffa starts off as kind of aggressively charming but ends up becoming a wild man who screams his way through every scene. While making the blood pump does it make the heart soar"?

"J. Edgar is DiCaprio's finest acting to date. As the title 'character', DiCaprio is completely and utterly the man being portrayed; a complex, haunting character who we see age from 19 until death without blinking an eye or losing the suspension of disbelief."

"Yes, I am talking about Clark Kal-El Superman Kent himself ... the almost-fascist. Sure, Superman has his moments of 'aw-shucks' boy scoutness. But, for the most part, Zack Snyder, Man of Steel's director, provides us with a god-child who drums to his own beat, with disastrous consequences."

"Reality is not really Gangster Squad's strong suit and that is fine since the movie never promises (or aspires) to be anything but a good guy vs. bad guy shoot 'em up. Naturally there is something cool about all this, at least for guys."

"But despite this, there is still one performance one notch better, believe it or not. Kevin Spacey. He's a shell of himself now but the man ... is ... simply ... amazing in this film. There is no place where Spacey starts and Vincennes ends. He is the character. And, if for nothing else, I recommend this film almost solely for his performance."

"We won't spend anytime on the production values here: they are unbelievable. The costumes are top notch, the music is perfect, the set design is exquisite and the Oscar nominated cinematography is breathtaking. This film is wonderful to look at ... but something happened in post production that just let it all be a waste of time."

"Ben Affleck, who wrote, starred and directed, clearly knows his location inside and out being a Boston native himself. If directed by anyone else The Town might lack the density it requires since Boston is so integral to the heart and soul of the picture. Those who doubted Affleck's credentials as a writer with Good Will Hunting can have those doubts laid to rest as Boston's lower class culture is just as realistic and well written here as it was then."

"So Sheen sends Simmons on a vague mission to North Korea where he gets betrayed, shot, killed, and then burned to death until he dies from it. And then, naturally, goes right to hell. There he encounters a CGI coyote whose lips don't move and talks like Dr. Claw from Inspector Gadget. He is then showed life as it has progressed in the last five years (! long commute from North Korea to hell) in which Simmon's best friend has married the super underrated mega-babe Theresa Randle, who used to be Simmons main squeeze."

"Scream 4 should have been titled Meta-Scream 4 because, while Kevin Williamson's dialogue is as sharp as it was in the original film, the plot is a different story ... well, a meta-one, in which Scream 4 utilizes the Scream template and creates a film where the only surprise might be just how meta it will all get."

"Oddly, 1991 also was the year Boyz N the Hood came out, reflecting the type of ghetto culture also revealed in 1988's Colors as a thing to avoid; a lifestyle and ideology of violence, abuse, and revenge. So it is kind of weird that Craven takes White Flight and essentially makes a near slapstick gore fest about it."

"That brings me to my point: we are seeing real kids here and when they become victim to a murderer, it chills us. No one getting murdered, mind you, is a good thing in real life but what haunts you more: a child being murdered or an adult. It's a pick your poison situation but there are virtually no adults in danger in Halloween, only kids, and their innocence, because sex and drugs are not damnable acts, is what makes their slaughter so disturbing."

"The interesting thing about the movie is the fact that through no dialogue or exposition we see both sides of a problem: the cops, who also reside in a massive high-rise, are almost as unflinching and brutal as the criminals. But they get to hide behind the book of law. Some criminals, like Ma-Ma, did what they did to survive. And while Ma-Ma might have gone a bit too far with her power, others seem like they have no other options."

"Good script? No (though, to be fair, half the dialogue is 'awrahhhhh' or mumbled by Sylvester Stallone). Sexual chemistry between the lead and the guest actress? Absolutely not. A three dimensional plot involving twists, turns, and betrayals? Yeah right. This is The Expendables, a 'franchise' of two films whose body count is higher then a leisurely trip through the Killing Fields on a productive day."

"And then, after the fight, Rocky gives a speech to what appears to be all of Russia (and this is probably Sly's intention) saying that the Russians didn't like him coming into the fight but grew to love him as he thinks 'we' all can do with each other. God damn, it's almost fucking romantic, isn't it?"

Older Reviews (before the reformat)

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