Tag Archives: Tommy Lee Jones

Our Oscar Season Preview

The leaves are changing a golden hue, little trick-or-treaters will soon be ringing our bells, and the quality of films suddenly takes a huge leap after the September lull that always follows a summer of blockbusters. Yes, Oscar season is here, and we can’t wait to see some of the enticing films coming to theaters very soon or are already here. We each picked three we can’t wait to see.

The Master
Currently in limited release but I have not seen it yet. Director Paul Thomas Anderson is currently, in my opinion, the finest American director working today. This has a chance at a second, wider release, like last year’s best picture winner “The Artist.”

Academy Award-winner Sam Mendes (American Beauty) steps in to direct the new James Bond film. How could you not get excited?

Ben Affleck directs another thriller, and if his last two films are any  indication, this will be fantastic.

Wreck It Ralph

It’s not too hard to predict that a Pixar film will be nominated for an Oscar, but this is the first one in a while I’ve been pumped for. It looks stocked full of video game nostalgia wrapped in a nice story.

Steven Spielberg has whiffed on a lot of movies over the last decade, but this ambitious period piece could just put him back on the map. Academy Award-winners Daniel Day Lewis, Tommy Lee Jones, and Sally Field round out an excellent cast.

Django Unchained
Any time Quentin Terrantino makes a movie, the world sits up and pays attention. He has yet to win best film or director, but perhaps this is the one to do it. Academy Award-winners Jamie Foxx and Christoph Waltz star in Terrantino’s first western — a genre that feel made for him.

Captain America: The First Avenger

Marvel launches another super franchise with this action-packed origin story, which follows Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) as he volunteers for a secret experiment during World War II. Transformed into a superhero named Captain America, Steve goes after the Axis. With his perfect physique and heightened reflexes — and his sidekick, Bucky (Sebastian Stan) — Steve battles the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving), a super soldier created by Italian fascists.

Rating: 8 out of 10

This actually came out about what I was expecting. I was a little concerned it would deliver similar to “Thor” but came out a lot better. My optimism finally paid off. 

Chris Evans didn’t disappoint. He brought a great performance as Steve Rogers/Captain America. Hugo Weaving was alright though I thought his German accent was off. I thought it was odd, too, that the organization that Red Skull led (Hydra) existed almost separate from that of the Nazi party. It just seemed Hydra’s intentions were very much different than that of the Nazi party from my original understanding of the Red Skull; no hints of Anti-Semitism. 

The only other thing that bothered me was at a few of the CG sequences with Evan’s head on a smaller body. A couple of the shots were a bit unbearable; his chin was not cropped properly and it just appeared to end. Also, I thought they could’ve scaled it down a tad so that his head was proportionate the body they put him on. Other than that, I thought it was a really good film. It had lots of action, suspense, and heart. Captain America just wants to help those in need and that mentality is seen from beginning to end. 

Oh, and the post-credits footage was bonerific. Great tease to what next summer will hold in store for Marvel fans.

The Hunted

Tommy Lee Jones is Agent Bonhan, an FBI deep-woods tracker who captures an assassin (Benicio Del Toro) with a weird proclivity — he makes a sport of killing deer hunters. When the killer escapes in the city, Bonham must team up with another Bureau agent (Connie Nielsen) to hunt down the thrill killer before he starts to hunt them. William Friedkin directs.

Rating: 3 out of 10

I love William Friedkin. If you’re not aware of him, he’s the Oscar-winning director of both “The French Connection” and “The Exorcist.” He’s a die hard proponent of blu-ray and loves explaining the in’s and out’s of the filmmaking process within the extras on his film’s discs. Friedkin’s entertaining, insightful, and a joy to listen and learn from. It’s with that sentiment I hate admitting that “The Hunted” is a very flawed film. There are so many problems with the writing that I don’t even know where to start. First off, we’re supposed to believe in the idea that Benicio Del Toro’s has gone off the deep end. Well, that’s impossible to accept when every little thing he does is so calculated. He knows exactly when to perform each and every action along with the consequences of a wrong move. If that’s the case, why would he ever go down this path in the first place? Also, I love Del Toro but he’s lifeless here. I want to see a bit more life out of a guy that has essentially thrown his entire life away while being hunted by the man he seemingly respects the most. Also, he seems to understand the tracking process that Tommy Lee Jones uses to find him. If that’s the case, why wouldn’t he do things to throw him off the path? Wouldn’t his own student know how to keep the bloodhound from smelling the blood? Lastly, all of the action scenes have very little emotional involvement. There’s so little back story that was never told. If we could see the progression of Del Toro’s character a bit more and feel the sadness that could come with him becoming a hardened murderer, it would have added so much to the last 1/3rd of the film.

On the bright side, Tommy Lee Jones is as terrific as ever. The Hunted is at its absolute best whenever he’s on screen. Also, Friedkin knows how to stage action and use the camera in interesting ways. Unfortunately, Del Toro and his writers didn’t show the same care for the material.

Films that defined us

All of us have particular movies we’ve seen, whether as an adult or child, that stay with us in a way others hadn’t before. They’re special experiences we hold onto, whether it was because you saw them with a close friend or the film connected with your life in a personal way. These are movies that define us, and we’re breaking down each by genre. Each week, one of our contributors will list the movies that defined them.


Horror: The first time I saw Jaws, my brother and I were at home and it was on Beta Max (OK, I’m old).  I had convinced my mother to let us rent it because it was only rated PG.  I still wonder how the hell Universal convinced the ratings board to get a PG with this much violence, but I digress.  I put the tape in the VCR and felt chills right when the opening music started.  By the time the opening shark attack was over, I was absolutely petrified.  I stuck with it until we got to the part where a kid, not much older than me, got sucked into the sea in a cloud of blood.  At that moment, I was terrified of the ocean for the rest of my life and shut the movie off.  As an adult, I watched this film recently. It is just as suspenseful, funny, scary, and engrossing as it was in 1975. It is, in my opinion, one of the greatest films ever made and a true testament to the legacy of Steven Spielberg.

Drama: I love home video.  It allows us to see films that were ignored during their theatrical run.  The Shawshank Redemption took in a modest $28 million at the box office despite being nominated for 7 Oscars, including best picture.  Since then, it became the #1 most rented video of 1995 and is currently rated #1 on IMDB’s list of top 250 films of all time.  I was part of the group that discovered it on home video and was absolutely blown away by the power of the story and the performances of all the actors involved.  It’s one of the greatest American films of all time and keeps getting better and better with age.

Action/Adventure: Who would have thought that a film based on an old television series could be this good? If you’ve never seen it, The Fugitive is one the greatest examples of action done right. The performances are spot on from both Harrison Ford and Tommy Lee Jones, the direction from Andrew Davis is almost flawless, and the action scenes are suspenseful like few before it.  It’s easily one of my favorite action films of all time.

Sports: Although it’s listed as a sports film and is comfortable within that category, Field of Dreams is more about how baseball is woven into the fabric of American culture.  It’s also about damaged father/son relationships, blind faith and love.  That’s a pretty delicate balance when you’re talking about a story that involves building a baseball field to resurrect baseball players that are dead because a whispering voice told you to while you were working in a cornfield.  The ability for this original and daring material to work is a great testament to writers Paul Alden Robinson and W.P. Kinsella.  When I think of what America is, I always think of Field of Dreams.