Hurlyburly

This is a 1998 drama starring Sean Penn and Kevin Spacey based on a 1984 play, and it shows because there is a lot of talking.

It tells the story of three Hollywood players who like to do the drugs and other things we all know Hollywood types like to do. Sean’s character is especially wigged-out on drugs and gets really paranoid and stressed out.

Most of the film takes place in one house in the hills somewhere, so there is not a whole lot going on, just a lot of rambling about things that don’t really make for good film watching.

Anna Paquin turns up as a young drifter who would do anything for a place to stay, she was a refreshing change from all of the drama going on about her, but alas did not have much screen time.

The performances were good by all, and Sean was trying really hard to get an Oscar, but he did not succeed. Chazz Palminteri was excellent, with both Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright doing their best with what they had too.

This isn’t terrible, but it could have been a lot better.

Date watched: May 11th
Score: 5/10
Film count 2019: 15

The Assassination of Richard Nixon

I had already seen this many years ago, so long ago in fact that I can’t find an entry for it in this blog. I had forgotten a lot of it though, so I didn’t mind watching it again.

This is the partly-true story of Samuel Byck who tried to hijack a plane which he wanted to fly into the White House to kill Richard Nixon. Most of the story focuses on the events leading up to the hijacking, starting out one year before the event, with the actual hijacking taking up only the last fifteen minutes. So, it is a long slow-burner mostly.

The acting is fine, especially Sean Penn who I find to be great in some films, and not so great in others. Naomi Watts and Don Cheadle are both equally good.

The story left out a lot of details such as Samuel picketing the White House dressed in a Santa Claus suit, or being investigated by the secret service after he threatened the president (although these events took place before the events portrayed in the film). The actual hijacking was reasonably accurate though.

Not great, not bad, somewhat forgettable.

Date watched: February 21st
Score: 7/10
Film count 2018: 17

Colors

I remember this coming out, way back in 1988, and the thing I remember the most about it was the title song by Ice-T, a catchy song.

Back in the day this was a controversial film because of the subject matter. It is of course about gang violence and the cops trying to stop it. These days it seems quite tame as there are no extreme violence scenes where peoples heads are exploded by gunshots, or innocent bystanders are wasted by a psycho-drugged-up Crip or Blood gang member. It was more about the story back then, and great acting.

And the acting is probably the best thing about this film, both Robert Duvall and Sean Penn are both great. The supporting cast including Don Cheadle, María Conchita Alonso, and a one-scene one-line appearance by Jack Nance, are good but not as great (except Nance of course).

The producer hired actual gang members during filming to act as guardians, and two were apparently shot.

Dennis Hopper directed, his first film as director since Easy Rider. He shot many scenes in actual Blood or Crip areas using either Bloods or Crips as extras depending on where he was filming.

Sean Penn got a bit miffed at an extra taking photos of him without permission and gave him a good punching…33 days in prison for him.


The guy on the right in this image amused me. Not only did he look out of place in a Chicano gang, but he also basically took on this pose in almost every scene. A later scene kind of explained later on why he looked like this (he was drugged out of his mind), but it was weird nonetheless.

This is described as a “police procedural” on Wikipedia which it is I suppose, but not as procedural as those of the 1950’s. The story was pretty standard stuff actually. It followed Duvall and Penn who grudgingly become buddies, and together they set about finding out who blew a gang member away in a drive-by shooting (Don Cheadle did it!). It had all of the usual police, gang, love-interest, and car-chase tropes we expect from a police/gang story. But, I guess it portrayed the gang culture of the time well, but I wouldn’t really know.

I would not say this is an essential watch, not these days anyway, and if it wasn’t for Duvall’s and Penn’s acting skills, and Ice-T ‘s nice song, it would not rate as well.

Date watched: February 3rd
Score: 7.5/10
Film count 2018: 9