Tag Archives: Jim Carrey

Dirty Harry: The Dead Pool

The Dead Pool is a a slick entry in the Dirty Harry franchise, also capping off the series as the fifth and last one. Clint Eastwood had come a long way since he first stepped into the shoes of no nonsense, persistently violent San Francisco super cop Harry Callahan to do battle with the Zodiac Killer, and in this one things get a little bit more meta and witty than they ever have in the canon, but none less violent or tough. After the murder of a junkie rockstar played by none other than a young Jim Carrey, San Francisco is on high alert after the discovery of an underground game called the dead pool, where people bet on celebrities to die (I myself have never engaged in such behaviour). The chief suspect is an asshole horror film director played by Liam Neeson, sporting a greasy ponytail to match his greasy attitude, but each clue seems to lead nowhere, and Harry keeps getting attacked by unseen assassins from both the mob and the killer’s arena. The fun in these flicks is observing his zero tolerance policy for bureaucracy, red tape or rules and the flagrant defiance in the face of any social niceties, not to mention his enthusiasm for cheerfully excessive force, behaviour that has made him such a beloved character. The 44. Magnum gets a ton of exercise here and before the opening credits are nearly up he’s already blasted holes in like six people. My favourite scene has to be the unique car chase action sequence in which the killer employs a tiny, bizarrely fast remote control car rigged with a bomb and chases Harry all up and down the famous hills of San Francisco, it’s absolutely hysterical and looks as if a family of Borrowers decided that they needed to wiped out Clint Eastwood and are hunting the poor guy down. Eastwood is a little older and a bit more grizzled here, and his hair has the refreshing metamorphosis aesthetic of the late 80’s emerging from the dust of 70’s poof/mullet nightmares (also observable with Nick Nolte between 48Hrs and Another 48Hrs), which adds to the character. Good stuff.

-Nate Hill

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The Farrelly Brothers Dumb & Dumber To

I might catch some royal shit for this, but I loved Dumb & Dumber To, the Farrelly Brother’s decade’s later follow up to pretty much one of the best comedies of all time. It’s different; meaner, raunchier, a tad more meta and way less down to earth than its predecessor, it seems to be almost universally projectile vomited upon by critics and loyal fans alike. Fuck em if they can’t take a joke, because there’s no arguing that this one isn’t funny. In bad taste? Sure, but so was the original in its own 90’s way. Less charming? Maybe, but suck it up. Discontinuous to the nature of the leads in the original? Granted,

but it’s been like twenty years and the filmmakers/actors have changed as artists. Bereft entirely of valuable, effective humour? Not a chance. Just be thankful we got something to erase the pungent memory of Dumb & Dumberer, a prequel wholly undeserving of the legacy’s name. Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels are a little older and a little more leathery, but they’re still Harry and Lloyd, the two dim witted pioneers of mid 99’s gross out humour and buddy comedy shtick, resurrected for a brand new adventure. After a prologue where Harry rescues Lloyd from a care facility (that catheter is a wince moment), they’re off to find Harry’s daughter (Rachel Melvin) who he spawned with the notorious Freida Feltcher, brought to life by none other than Kathleen Turner in full hoe mode, she’s a face I haven’t seen in movies for years. There’s a half baked crime melodrama unfolding around them just like in the first one, and just like then, they’re too dumb to get what’s going on, a running joke that villains Laurie Holden and Rob Riggle (doing a double shift) carry amiably enough, but they’re no Joe Mental or Nicholas Andre, let’s be real. The highlight for me was when Harry and Lloyd bumble their way onstage at a TED Talk-esque (updating set pieces for a new millennium) as judges, and hurl moronic criticism at every invention that graces the desk. It’s not the same as the original but it’s been years, after all. The Farrelly’s have always been about distasteful, raunchy, whacked out humour that aims low and beats the laughs out of you, which is exactly what I found to be on display here. Vastly undervalued.

-Nate Hill

THE RIDDLE OF STEEL with Matt Greenberg & Kent Hill

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Matt Greenberg returns, and after the most excellent first time round it was never a question of if, but when. Matt is, of course, not only a cool cat but a talented screenwriter (Reign of Fire, 1408). In our first interview (which you’ll find here: https://podcastingthemsoftly.com/2017/01/13/writing-with-fire-an-interview-with-matthew-greenberg-by-kent-hill/) we discussed his career, the highs and lows – basically his adventures in the screen trade.

This time round I really had no plan, and I find that makes for the best interviews, cause, man, it can go anywhere. I love his unfiltered take on the epicenter of the film industry, his encounters with certain movie town luminaries, his hilarious CliffsNotes on the status of the latest cinema fodder, and his seeds of wisdom when we’re talking shop.

From possible titles for Meatloaf’s next album to O.J. Simpson, to the best idea I’ve ever heard for a reality TV series, Matt and I don’t just shoot the breeze, we gleefully fire and Uzi into the clear blue sky and I hope you’ll delight, as I do, with what hits the ground.

So for luck, for laughs, for the unknown, join us now, me and my mate Matt as we sit down again. And don’t worry – we also talk about movies…

Problem Children with Big Eyes who make Biopics that’ll give you Goosebumps: An Interview with Larry Karaszewski by Kent Hill

As the child from a working class family in South Bend, Indiana, Larry was introduced to the movies by his father. He was not restricted as to what he could watch, so he watched it all. After high school he debated between pursuing either a career in comedy or a life in pictures.

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Larry opted for the movies, and soon found himself at USC. It was there that he would meet Scott Alexander, and together they would form not only a friendship, but also the foundation of a prolific career as a successful screenwriting duo.

After (and though it launched a trilogy of films and even an animated series) Problem Child, the screenwriters struggled to find work. It seemed as though they had been typecast buy their work and so looked to independently produce a biopic they were working on about the notoriously bad filmmaker Ed Wood.

As fate would have it, word of the project reached director Tim Burton. After expressing interest, the boys would have to hammer out a screenplay in double-quick fashion. They succeeded, and this, the first in a string of biographical efforts, would re-establish them in Hollywood and from it they would carve out their place in the genre and become, in many ways, its ‘go-to guys.’

Biopics of Larry Flynt and Andy Kaufman would follow, seeing the boys team up with Academy Award winner Milos Forman. They would go on to re-team with Tim Burton as well as dabble in a variety on different genres including everything from a kid-friendly version of James Bond to horrific hotel rooms were you’ll spend a night or perhaps even an eternity.

Larry and Scott have garnered the highest accolades the industry has to offer and continue to deliver. While trying to get a hold of Larry for this interview I caught him riding high on his recent wave of success, so I would just have to wait for the tide to turn. I am however, glad that I did. It was, as it is ever, a privilege to chat with a man whose work I heartily admire. I love the films he has written and I look forward to the projects that he and Scott have in the pipeline.

Without further ado I present, the award-winning screenwriter and all-round nice guy . . . the one, the only, Larry Karaszewski.

Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind: A Review by Nate Hill 

Films like Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind come around once in a lifetime, if we’re lucky. I watched it when I was too young to fully grasp much, and it flew over my head. In the last few years I had a revisit and was knocked flat. Few stories out there have the power to mine deep within the human psyche and search for the complexities, contradictions and puzzling flaws that lie in the beautiful disasters we call human beings. A contemplative yet fast paced meditation on relationships, love, heartbreak and reconciliation doesn’t even begin to paint a picture of what you’re in for with this uniquely told and one in a million film. Sagely ragamuffin Michel Gondry, not one for the easy way out, has truly outdone himself, as has screenwriter Charlie Kaufman, who is never short on wild ideas with emotional heft that sneaks up and blindsides you. Joel Barrish (Jim Carrey) ditches work on a whim one morning, and hops a train out to snowy Montauk. Through fate’s mysterious grasp, he meets free spirited Clementine (Kate Winslet), and the two hit it off immediately. He’s reserved, cautious and calculated, and she’s an impulsive wild card. They couldn’t be more different, but somehow they work. Until they don’t. Joel is devastated to learn one day of a radical brain alteration technique that effectively removes the memory of an ex from your mind, and Clementine has taken the plunge. Joel is confused and lost, and while the iron is still hot in his beating heart, he decides to undergo the procedure as well. Then the film really turns your world upside down. Whilst the staff of the Institute (Mark Ruffalo, Elijah Wood and Kirsten Dunst) go to work on his mind in his sleep, he has a change of heart. With the memories of Clementine radidly disintegrating, he races through the internal landscape of his mind in order to find and save her, hiding her in obscure corners of his data log where she won’t be found. It’s a genius way to tell the story, taking a delightful turn for the surreal as both of them find themselves catapulted headlong into various moments of his life. On the outside, a tragic subplot unfolds involving Dunst and the the head doctor at the program (Tom Wilkinson). Kirsten and Tom have never been better, treating an often used trope with dignity and gentleness. For all its tricks and psychological whathaveya, the film is first and foremost about love. It isn’t interested in showing us any generic or clichéd depiction of it either, like most of the pandering fluff that gets passed off as romance these days. It strives to show love in all its brutal and painful glory, the fights, the hurt, the time spent alone, the resentment and the willingness to batter your way through all that, against better judgment and logic, if it’s worth it. Is love a force of its own, a measurable influence that can transcend a procedure like that? Is it it’s own element, or simply always a part of us? Carrey and Winslet (and, to a lesser extent, Wilkinson and Dunst) tenderly search for the answers to these difficult questions in what are the roles of a lifetime for both. Carrey has never been so vulnerable, so open, and despite his brilliant comedic work elsewhere, his performance here is a direct window into the soul, and his best work to date. Although the film is quite labyrinthine and jumps around quite a lot, it never, ever jumps the track or misses a beat. It’s always concise, deliberate and crystal clear, if you have the patience and dedication to watch it a few times in order to let all the beautiful images, words and ideas sink in. Movies are first and foremost for entertainment. You give the man your nickel, he fires up the projector and you watch the lone ranger chase down down a speeding locomotive. Every once in a while you get one like this, one that challenges and inspires deep thought, intangible feelings and teaches you something, maybe even about yourself. Every once in a while, you get one that alters your life, and that is what is so important about that little spinning machine that opens up worlds upon a simple flat white canvas where before there was nothing. A masterpiece.

The Truman Show: A Review by Nate Hill 

Everyone at some point in their lives has been bothered by the notion that their surroundings are all an elaborate prank, that somehow every single human being but them is in on some giant impossible joke, watching their every move for strange and unthinkable purposes. What if my life isn’t real? What if all my friends and family members aren’t who they say they are, and I’m just part of some ungodly social experiment? What if my life as I’ve known it just isn’t.. real? For Truman Burbank (Jim Carrey) these concerns are very pressing, as he discovers throughout one of the most thoughtful, touching, creative and insightful films ever made. Director Peter Weir works with a script by Andrew Niccol to bring us this now timeless tale of a man existing in a patented pastel world that was never his own and always destined for him. Truman is the unwitting star of his own television show, inducted into its gargantuan studio set since the day of his birth, and conditioned to believe all his life that the people, places and events around him are in fact his real life. Cruel? Perhaps, but the film never takes sides, instead favoring wonder over analytical dissection, a wise move. Even the conductor of this whole absurd symphony, a prolific filmmaker played by Ed Harris, gets his moment of sympathy which can be read as preening ego or the desire to connect with his leading actor beyond the pixelated jumbo-tron he sits behind, depending on how you view the situation. Truman has a lovely wife (Laura Linney), a salt of the earth best friend (Noah Emmerich) and the perfect little white picket fence life. But none of it is real, or at least organic in the sense that every person deserves out of the womb. Truman is a rat in a very elaborate maze, but like anyone who’s had the wool pulled over their eyes, eventually he begins to see lights of authenticity piercing the seams. Gradually he begins to sniff out the ruse, like a child losing their innocence, and questions the eerily idyllic life he has been given. The people, or rather, actors in his life react in different ways. Some panic, others stick to the script, and Harris sorrowfully watches his controversial creation awaken beyond his control. Carrey is a starry eyed revelation as Truman, in one of the most overlooked performances of the century. His arc is the stuff of dreams, spanning the lengths of naivete trapped in a bubble that bursts into affecting, starry eyed realization and wonder. Every moment is owned by him, every beat is resoundingly hit in flawless fashion. When a mysterious and beautiful defector (the luminous Natasha Mcelhone) enters his life to play the part of whistle-blower, it’s the first geniune and non-puppeteered interaction he’s had with a human being. Sparks fly high enough to reach the heavens, and it’s the catalyst for a journey to find the self, the reason for his predicament, a world beyond the Lego brick suburbia he has known and the next step in his impossibly unique life. There’s a piece of Truman embedded in every viewer beholding, and I believe that’s why the film has held up for so long, and been beloved by so many. Every human being has insecurities as large as the fake sound stage that raised him from a pup. Every one of us has at one point felt the alienation he must have gone through upon realizing the truth. In a story so larger than life, we find the answers, or at least a modicum of such, to what it means being a person in this world. Carrey’s Truman is an achingly relatable avatar of this and a direct conduit into the essential. Couldn’t have picked a better actor to bring all of this to life. Couldn’t have made a better film about it. A classic. Good morning, and in case I don’t see you: good afternoon, good evening and goodnight. 

Yes Man: A Review by Nate Hill 

Yes Man is a loaf of fluffy, inconsequential Wonderbread amidst a career of denser comedic pumpernickel  for Jim Carrey. Most of what he does has weight to go along with the laughs, and if it doesn’t it still has a raunchy bite that always hits below the belt. This is one of the few times he treaded lighter, a tone which can also be found in Fun With Dick & Jane, but that’s just not a good movie. Yes Man has merit in fits and starts, and it’s harmless fun for most of the ride. Carrey plays the consummate negative Nancy here, a guy who spends the better part of his time turning down offers, cancelling plans, avoiding people and saying no to everything. This all changes when he goes to a dodgy seminar preached by batty self help guru Terence Stamp. Inspired by his slightly odd teachings, he challenges himself to say yes to everything, and I mean everything, for one whole year. This gets him into all sorts of trouble, and steers him to the obligatory 180 shift in his character arc, and his own enlightenment. Guzzling red bulls after an all night club bender, guitar lessons, sexual favors from his experienced elderly neighbor (Fionnula Flanagan), driving a homeless dude (Brent Briscoe) to the middle of nowhere and giving him like two hundred bucks, life is just more fun when you say yes to everything, as Carrey quickly finds out. He also meets cutie pie Zooey Deschanel, whose initial amusement towards his lifestyle quickly turns to exasperation when his affirmative nature gets just a biiit too crazy for her. It’s all in good fun, and while most of it isn’t memorable or super noteworthy, there is one particular scene that makes the entire film worthwhile: Carrey has an awkward kiwi of a boss (Rhys Darby) who is constantly inviting him to cosplay parties. The moment he accepts is a symphony of quirky mannerisms, scotch taped facial grimaces and absurdity that is pure Carrey and could be used to sum up his career in half a minute. Watch for work from Danny Masterson, Spencer Garrett and Bradley Cooper. Like I said, it ain’t gonna rock your world like many of the iconic, beloved Carrey films, but it’s an amusing diversion with some scenes that do bring it home.