Archive for the ‘Shane Black’ Category

Misty Mountains

The Nice Guys

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Director: Shane Black

Cast: Ryan Gosling, Russell Crowe, Kim Basinger, Matt Bomer, Angourie Rice, Margaret Qualley, Beau Knapp

Russell Crowe reunites with his L.A. Confidential co-star Kim Basinger along with Ryan Gosling in the Buddy action film The Nice Guys set in Los Angeles in 1977, amidst a sleazy world of fading porn stars, smog and gas restrictions.

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Actually, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black sums up The Nice Guys in the opening sequence of the film, with a young boy stealing a porn magazine from under his parents bed, only to narrowly escape a sports car driving through the house whereby he discovers the curvaceous body of the porn star Misty Mountains, bloodied and trapped in a wrecked car asking “How do you like my car?”

Sex and driving are equated multiple times in this seventies L. A. crime caper romp.

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Oscar nominee Ryan Gosling (Half Nelson, Drive) teams up with Oscar winner Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Mind, Gladiator) for a seventies buddy movie in the vein of Starsky and Hutch although slightly more X-rated and definitely more violent. If the plot appears slightly convoluted that’s because it’s meant to be and possibly points to one of the structural weaknesses of the film.

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But the on-screen bromance between Gosling and Crowe is perfect and central to what makes The Nice Guys such a humourous and quirky film. That and Gosling’s character, Holland March, a sleazy hard drinking and hapless private eye who is trying to keep his life together while raising a teenage daughter Holly superbly played by Angourie Rice. The disorganized March’s relationship with his daughter is what makes this film work as it is the central motivating factor forcing him to get his act together, acting as the emotional core of an otherwise macho buddy film.

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The action sequences are wild and spectacular including a bizarre sequence at a studio 54 inspired party in a Bellair mansion as well as the dazzling finale at the Bonaventura Hotel in downtown Los Angeles at the 1978 California car show which goes haywire when JohnnyBoy a Detroit assassin wonderfully played against type by Matt Bomer (The Normal Heart, Magic Mike) attempts to retrieve an important porn film which implicates highranking officials in the American auto industry as well as a ruthless and cold California Chief Justice Judith Kuttner played by Oscar winner Kim Basinger.

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Shane Black’s The Nice Guys is not a perfect film, but rather a homage to the late 1970’s California, a society obsessed with fame, cars and fading porn stars as well as a hedonistic desire to escape the worst of the post-Nixon Watergate scandal.

Highly recommended viewing if audiences enjoy a quirky seventies tale with off the wall action, lots of retro style and peppered with witty dialogue which will keep them guessing. It’s also a chance to see two brilliant Hollywood actors take a turn at physical comedy especially Gosling who is hilarious in the smoking on the toilet with a gun in his hand bathroom scene.

Audiences should also look out for Val Kilmer’s son Jack Kilmer as the impressionable projectionist Chet who unwillingly gets caught up in the whole investigation initiated by The Nice Guys while searching for the mysterious girl in the yellow dress named Amelia.

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Upgrading the DNA

IRON MAN 3

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Director: Shane Black

Cast: Robert Downey Jnr, Gwyneth Paltrow, Ben Kingsley, Don Cheadle, Rebecca Hall, James Badge Dale, Jon Favreau, Miguel Ferrer, Paul Bettany

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang director Shane Black reunites with Robert Downey Jnr in the third instalment of the highly successful Iron Man franchise in Iron Man 3. Whilst the third film lacks the panache of the original Iron Man, Iron Man 3 will definitely appeal to its target male audience and features a bigger role for the superhero sidekick Pepper Potts, played with a muscularity by Gwyneth Paltrow. Don Cheadle returns as the army officer suiting up the Iron Patriot. Iron Man 3, with the exception of a brief prelude in Bern Switzerland, stays firmly within the cultural pastiche of 21st century America from Malibu to Chattanooga to Miami.

Especially relevant now, the enemy in Iron Man 3 is a psychopathic superhuman terrorist, The Mandarin, who is seemingly terrorising key points in the USA from the Graumann Theatre in downtown Hollywood to Air Force One, mid air over Florida with an explosive chemical manipulation of man’s DNA. As a sideline there is the supposedly geeky rival scientist Aldrich Killian first introduced in Bern, played with a marvelous dexterity by Australian actor Guy Pierce, an antithesis of all that Iron Man’s alter ego Tony Stark represents from boyish charm, sophisticated genius and suave, billionaire industrialist.

Unfortunately unlike Iron Man and Iron Man 2, with the wonderful Mickey Rourke as the villain flinging racing cars through the air at the Monte Carlo Grand Prix, the villain in this third installment is not as clearly defined, nor is he as ruthless and cunning yet equally clever and what imbalances appear on screen, is made up for by the witty script and loads of stunning action sequences from the demolition of Tony Stark’s Malibu Mansion, to a unrivaled skydiving sequence.

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Fresh from the attack of Loki’s avenging Nordic demons on the Manhattan skyline in 2012’s smash hit The Avengers, Iron Man is more fragile and less strong as he first appears, suffering from anxiety attacks and insomnia and seeking refuge in his robotic world of remote controlled Iron Men, Tony Stark soon finds the inner parent in him as he befriends Harley a Tennessee tech-savy youngster as he investigates a mysterious explosion in the Southern town close to Chattanooga in a bid to rebuild his Iron Man suit and save Pepper Potts from the clutches of the elusive villain, the internet waging, cultural terrorist The Mandarin…

Whilst there are some fantastic action sequences and Downey as usual embodies all the likable characteristics of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, the third installment of the series lacks a tighter narrative, with many inexplicable plot points not being resolved in favour of big budget action sequences. Iron Man 3, immersed in contemporary cultural references from Joan Rivers to Downton Abbey has some hugely entertaining sequences especially the Malibu and Tennessee sections but lacks some of the inherent style and flamboyance of the first two films, and also points to a rather disturbing subtext that many violent episodes in 21st century American society are at the hands of those from within the nation, and not some foreign malevolent power.

Nevertheless, the action and script makes up for any plot deficiencies and Iron Man 3 is fun for a gang of teenage boys to watch. Also starring the underutilized Rebecca Hall (Vicky Christina Barcelona) and Oscar Winning Ben Kingsley which begs the question what were these fine actors doing in such a comic book sequel?

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