As most gigantic film buffs know, this movie is top dog when it comes to classic films everyone has to see. And how long did it take me to see since I’ve been really into movies? 10 years. I know you may be thinking I might as well shut down my review website, but hold your horses Seabiscuit. It wasn’t like I wasn’t going to see it and shrug it off as some dumb flick not worth my time. (Although… a bit lengthy.) This movie is across the board considered one of the best of all time, and it came out a mere 17 years ago. And there’s quite a few movies that would rival that from more than 50 or 60 years. But no, this movie, paid with a dollar to Stephen King with a single dollar bill, is now considered a masterpiece.
This movie in particular holds quite a bit of significance to me, but more to my father. So yeah, it’s pretty special. My father grew up in Mansfield, site of the Ohio State Reformatory, located just outside of downtown Mansfield. Coming from a low budget movie filmed in one location (Mansfield), I would call the achievement of this film phenomenal. And turning the old reformatory into Shawshank State Penitentary in Maine, and thus turning Mansfield into a hotspot location for film buffs: fantastic. The streets of Mansfield, some family friends staring down the camera, yeah, this film has some history with me.
Okay, basic plot. Andy Dufresne (Tim Robbins) is convicted of killing his wife all the way back in 1947. His wife was cheating on him with a golfer (naturally Tiger Woods) and she got what was coming to her. And it’s never really clear whether or not Andy committed the crime. Anyways, Dufresne is sent to Shawshank State Penitentiary in Maine, home of the writer of this short story, Stephen King. While there, Andy keeps his head down, stands up for others, and makes friends with Red (Morgan Freeman) the narrator of this fine film. Despite his status as convicted or not (all Shawshank inmates are innocent!), Andy Dufresne must stick by his beliefs and not get Shawshanked. Overused pun? Or am I the first? Let me know.
Of course, as expected with a great movie, there’s some great acting in it as well. It is Morgan Freeman. Known simply to most as “The Voice of God”, it was roles like The Shawshank Redemption that gave him the opportunity to narrate beyond a prison story. Tim Robbins, as I’ve figured from this movie, got into highly acclaimed, Oscar worthy roles because of this movie. Although Morgan Freeman won for best actor, it doesn’t demean Tim Robbins any that he was in a movie that was up for 7 academy awards.
Who else, you may ask, deserves a nod from this acclaimed film? I would tip my hat to William Sadler as Heywood, the bumbling idiot and all around good guy, just trying to get through prison life. The only life most of them know, and that comes across in this movie with James Whitmore’s performance as Brooks Hatlen, a role that would later be ironically poked fun at by a Robot Chicken sketch. (Get busy livin’, or get Kraken.) Come to think of it, there’s always the occaisional homage or spoof that comes up about this film, and now I can enjoy them more thoroughly.
So I give the biggest nod to Frank Darabont and his screenplay from the words of Stephen King, utilizing his Dollars to Direct program of all his short stories. I do wonder though if he’s kicking himself about missing out on this cash cow. But all-in-all, I’m sure this was a wonderful film to be a part of, and I know I’ll be watching it again in the future. 9.7 out of 10.
I also wanted to throw on this little clip from Seth Green’s Robot Chicken for a little quirky spoof that got me interested in The Shawshank Redemption. Enjoy!
It’s been a solid week since the last post and I’m ready to get back into it after a great spring break. Speaking of spring break, I saw The Adjustment Bureau over break. Let me tell you, it did not disappoint.
This movie is coming from first time director, second time producer, and fifth time screenplay, George Nolfi. Not familiar? Well, this guy is a pro with Matt Damon. He’s written the screenplay for three of Damon’s movies now. (Besides Adjustment, he’s done Ocean’s Twelve and The Bourne Ultimatum. Great stuff.) With all this work with Matt Damon, why wouldn’t Nolfi choose Damon for this movie? Besides Matt Damon’s acting chops, he can pull off the occasional (more than that) move in any of his movies nowadays.
This movie is quite great. If I had to compare it to anything, I would call it a more realistic version of Inception, with quite the romance on our hands. David Norris (Matt Damon) is a hood thug turned politician running for senate and seemingly winning. After a scandal, Norris decides to throw in the towel and take a job at a big company instead. And all this after meeting a girl, Elise (Emily Blunt). Months pass and Norris and Elise happen to run into each other on a bus. But was it just chance? Or are there bigger powers at work here?
David and Elise are tossed into a wild chase involving the aptly named “Adjustment Bureau,” giving rise to the question of whether or not we’re actually in control of our own lives. I would beg to differ and argue that some people are destroyed by their fate, but that’s a whole different story.
Okay, so what stood out to me in this movie is the tastefully done special effects, intermingled with great cinematography. The effects aren’t too flashy and all up in yo’ face, they stand respectfully behind the cinematography, as should be expected. With this base, we have on top of that some great acting. Of course, Matt Damon, Emily Blunt. But the two who really sold it for me was Anthony Mackie and John Slattery. Slattery of course gets his acting chops from Mad Men, but what surprised me in this movie is how y0u’re not really supposed to like him, but he still comes off as that cool customer you wish you could be. In direct opposition to him is Anthony Mackie, another Adjustment Bureau agent who has followed Damon throughout his life. Looking back on his career, I’m surprised I’ve missed Mackie, but now I’m sure I’m going to go back and check him out. (i.e. Notorious as Tupac, The Hurt Locker, Freedomland, and Half Nelson.) He’s been doing great work since about 2002, and it’s always great to find those actors who fly below the radar.
Only problem with this movie? TERENCE STAMP. Hollywood has got to stop letting this guy act. Seriously? He takes the most random roles that forces me not to be able to take him seriously. Come on. Yes Man? No sir.
This movie is a good one. With a great script, good direction, and great acting, this movie was made to do well. It leaves you with a great message in a not so familiar way. But you do have to ask yourself, would I change my fate for love? 7.7 out of 10.