Posts Tagged ‘Alec Baldwin’

Tom Cruise and company stick to a tried-and-true formula in the quick-moving ‘Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation’

January 24, 2018

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Jan. 24, 2018

Author’s note: I interrupt my string of Scrabble tournament recaps for at least one movie review. Don’t worry, I’ll recap this year’s “late-bird” event shortly. As always, thanks for reading! MEM

2015’s Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation, the fifth in the action-adventure series based on the old American TV series, has got all its moves down pat. The Tom Cruise vehicle efficiently delivers plenty of fights, thrills, gadgets and clever plot twists, along with a side of comic banter involving Simon Pegg and other supporting actors.

There’s nothing particularly eye-opening or surprising about Rogue Nation, but it’s fun, undemanding entertainment. The plot briskly transports superspy Ethan Hunt (Cruise) and cohorts from London to Vienna to Casablanca and back to London again. There are also brief stops in Havana and Paris and some repeat trips to Washington, D.C., for bureaucratic wrangling between vindictive CIA director Alan Hunlee (Alec Baldwin) and Impossible Mission Force chief William Brandt (Jeremy Renner, reprising his role from the 2011 outing Mission: Impossible — Ghost Protocol).

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Woody Allen finds comedy (but not too much!) in the tragedy of ‘Blue Jasmine’

August 14, 2013

By Matthew E. Milliken
MEMwrites.wordpress.com
Aug. 14, 2013

Author’s note: Having noticed a handful of typos and textual loose ends in this post, I made some adjustments on Aug. 21, 2015. I’ve used boldface (like so) and strikethrough lines (like this) to mark all but the most minor changes. MEM

When we first meet Jasmine, the antiheroine of Woody Allen’s new film, she is a character in free fall. Her successful but disgraced husband, Hal, recently committed suicide in prison; now destitute, Jasmine (Cate Blanchett) is flying across the continent to move into her sister’s modest San Francisco apartment.

Life with Ginger is destined to be rocky, we learn even before the two characters are shown in the same frame. Jasmine is a college dropout with no work experience, computer aptitude or other job skills, not to mention that she’s horribly whiny, spoiled, self-pitying and snobbish. Both Jasmine and Ginger (Sally Hawkins) were adopted, but the former had an excellent relationship with their parents, while the latter had a rocky one. (Ginger likes to joke, seemingly without bitterness, that Jasmine got the good genes.)

Those things alone would make the situation prickly. But there’s also the fact that the crooked Hal (Alec Baldwin) purloined the lottery winnings of Ginger and her then-husband, Augie (Andrew Dice Clay, demonstrating superb dramatic chops), thereby leading to the breakup of their marriage. And that’s not even mentioning the nearly immediate enmity that springs up between Jasmine and Ginger’s current fiancé, Chili (Bobby Cannavale).

This combustible mix forms the setup for Blue Jasmine, the 44th feature film directed by the astonishingly prolific Allen. Unlike the director’s three previous movies — You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger (set in London), Midnight in Paris and To Rome with Love — this picture is set exclusively in and around New York City and San Francisco. From a geographic point of view, it resembles the director’s 2009 movie, Whatever Works, which took place entirely in New York. (Several of Allen’s movies prior to Whatever Works had been located in Europe, especially London.)

The two features have more than that in common, though. Neither main character — Jasmine here, Boris in the 2009 film — cuts much of a heroic figure; it’s often hard to find them sympathetic.

But Blue Jasmine is much darker than Whatever Works. If that movie was essentially a comedy with tragic undertones, this one is a tragedy with comic notes. And while Whatever Works wrapped its narrative up with a nice, neat bow, Blue Jasmine arguably provides no such closure. Read the rest of this entry »

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