Film Review: St. Vincent (2014)

Release Date: September 5th, 2014 (TIFF)
Directed by: Theodore Melfi
Written by: Theodore Melfi
Music by: Theodore Shapiro
Cast: Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, Naomi Watts, Jaeden Lieberher, Chris O’Dowd, Terrence Howard

Chernin Entertainment, Crescendo Productions, The Weinstein Company, 102 Minutes

Review:

“You need to defend yourself, or you get mowed down.” – Vincent, “I’m small, if you haven’t noticed.” – Oliver, “Yeah, so was Hitler.” – Vincent, “That’s a horrible comparison.” – Oliver, “Indeed. Making a point, though.” – Vincent

*Written in 2014.

I finally got around to catching this film.

I’m a huge Bill Murray fan but then again, who isn’t? I’m not a fan of Melissa McCarthy though, so I found going into this to be a bit of a double-edged sword.

Well, as expected, Murray was pretty damn awesome. This is one of my favorite dramatic roles that he has played and he still brought the comedy where it was needed. His character was also a bit of a departure from what one is used to in a Murray performance.

In modern years, Bill Murray has essentially played Bill Murray. In this film, as Vincent, he was a pretty complex character that was more than just another Bill Murray caricature. He was a hard edged Vietnam veteran with a strong Brooklyn accent and a backstory that was heartbreaking and heartwarming as it unfolded throughout the movie.

Melissa McCarthy also impressed me in this film. I have to give her props on her mostly dramatic performance and I hope to see more acting from her like this. My issue with her in the past, is that she came off as the female Chris Farley. Everything about her career revolved around comedy based off of her weight. I just find that to be a low form of comedy and not that funny. Additionally, where she isn’t a walking fat joke, she fills the void with lewdness and crassness that has become the norm in modern comedy but just goes to show how shitty modern comedy has become.

Jaeden Lieberher, who plays the boy in the film, acted really well for a kid with a pretty small filmography thus far. His character befriends the grumpy and mean Vincent and it is the relationship between these two that propels this film.

Chris O’Dowd plays a teacher/priest that goes on to expand his acting chops and gives us another great and witty character. Vincent’s pregnant Russian hooker girlfriend is played by Naomi Watts and she is pretty hilarious here. I didn’t even realize it was her until about halfway through the film. Terrence Howard plays an asshole bookie but is almost a forgettable and unnecessary character.

This is a really good picture for Theodore Melfi, a first time feature film director. It’ll be interesting to see what he does next, as this was a stellar first effort. Melfi, with the help of this great cast, gave us one of the best films of the year, in my honest opinion.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Some of Bill Murray’s other films like The Life AquaticBroken Flowers and Lost In Translation.

Film Review: Iron Man (2008)

Release Date: April 14th, 2008 (Sydney premiere)
Directed by: Jon Favreau
Written by: Mark Fergus, Hawk Ostby, Art Marcum, Matt Holloway
Based on: Iron Man by Stan Lee, Larry Lieber, Don Heck, Jack Kirby
Music by: Ramin Djawadi
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges, Shaun Toub, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau, Paul Bettany (voice), Samuel L. Jackson (cameo), Clark Gregg, Leslie Bibb, Tom Morello (cameo), Ghostface Killah (scene cut), Peter Billingsley (cameo)

Fairview Entertainment, Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures, 126 Minutes

Review:

“[reading the newspaper] Iron Man. That’s kind of catchy. It’s got a nice ring to it. I mean it’s not technically accurate. The suit’s a gold titanium alloy, but it’s kind of provocative, the imagery anyway.” – Tony Stark

I decided that it’s time to go back and rewatch the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the beginning, as the world patiently waits for the release of Avengers: Infinity War in less than three months. It’s been a really long time since I’ve watched the Phase One films, so I figured I’d start with the first, a film that I can’t believe is a decade old already. Man, time flies.

Maybe it’s because I haven’t watched the Phase One stuff in so long, but I truly forgot how great the original Iron Man is. It’s definitely the best of the Iron Man films and much better than most of the Phase Two and Phase Three movies. It was smaller, simpler and actually told a story instead of being a dozen big action sequences strung together by a fragile plot thread.

This is the origin story of Iron Man and really Tony Stark, even though some of the sequels to this flesh out his backstory more. This doesn’t get too bogged down in the origin stuff though, as it does a great job of focusing on the main story and moving forward. Plus, that post credits scene sets up what’s to come with the formation of the Avengers and a hint at something much larger than just Stark’s world. In fact, Nick Fury even states that Stark isn’t the first superhero, alluding to Captain America and possibly even Captain Marvel, who ten years later, still hasn’t gotten her movie.

Iron Man is just so well acted, well constructed and Jon Favreau did a fine job directing it, even though he got to play a role in it and other Iron Man-related films after this one.

This is small in comparison to the Marvel films that would come later but I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s a bit more grounded in reality, emotion and something actually genuine.

Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect Tony Stark but we all know that by this point. It’s like he was born to play the role and everything else before this, as great as many of his films were, was just preparation for this role, the biggest thing he’s ever been a part of.

Jeff Bridges was fantastic as the first ever Marvel Cinematic Universe villain. He was a powerful and charismatic choice and still, better than most of the other villains that have come and gone. Granted, other than less than a handful of characters, Marvel has had an issue with managing their bad guys in these pictures.

This was a perfect start to the larger Avengers universe. I think we knew how good this was, at the time, but seeing it now, with so many other Marvel movies having come out after it, helps put into perspective how good this motion picture was.

Rating: 8.5/10
Pairs well with: Iron Man 2Iron Man 3, Captain America: Civil War.