My Top Ten William Sadler Movies

Happy Birthday to William Sadler, who turns 67 today.

Sadler is a great “Hey, it’s that guy!“. I doubt many people other than hardcore movie fans could name him but most people will know his face. He’s been in 165 things according to IMDb. I’m a fan thanks mainly to his Frank Darabont/Stephen King connections. I wish Darabont, King, and Darabont’s usual favorite actors would work together all the time! Come on, Darabont – would you hurry up & adapt King’s fantastic The Long Walk?! And please once again give Sadler at least a small role. And Jeffrey DeMunn! Okay – I’m getting off topic. I just love Darabont’s King adaptations & he’s had the rights to The Long Walk, a favorite of mine, for ages. I. WANT. TO. SEE. IT. NOW. 😉

Sadler’s Darabont/King movies may be my favorites but my favorite role has to be his Grim Reaper in Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. He stole the show in that one – I wonder if he’s fond of that role? He should be! I think he got to play quite a different character in that film & he really stood out. It would be cool to see him in more unusual roles like that one. But not necessarily lead roles – sometimes it’s cool to be a “Hey, it’s that guy!” guy.

As always, I’ll count down to my favorite films as opposed to performance. What a great, mixed bag to choose from. Here are My Top Ten William Sadler Movies:

The Other Two I’ve Seen:

12. Hard To Kill
11. Disturbing Behavior

Top Ten:

10. Man On A Ledge

9. August Rush

8. K-9 (Haha! Can’t even find a picture of Sadler in this as “Salesman Don”. So here’s James Belushi & the dog…)

7. Iron Man 3

6. Die Hard 2

5. Project X

4. Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey

3. The Mist

2. The Green Mile

1. The Shawshank Redemption

Sadler has also been in lots of TV shows, some of which I’ve seen him in, but the one movie of his that I’ve not yet seen but really want to is Rush starring Jennifer Jason Leigh, Jason Patric & Sam Elliott (stud).

Here’s Sadler as Death with Bill & Ted. Best two out of three!

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Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013) Review

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Drew: The Man Behind The Poster (2013)

Directed by Erik Sharkey

Starring: Drew Struzan, Dylan Struzan, Harrison Ford, Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, Michael J. Fox, Thomas Jane

Running time: 97 minutes

Plot Synopsis: (via Wikipedia)
Drew: The Man Behind The Poster is a 2013 documentary film directed by Erik Sharkey about the career of American film poster artist Drew Struzan.

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My Opinion:

I watched this documentary last year and kept meaning to review it. I don’t know how to review documentaries (or books! man I’m behind on book reviews). As a documentary, I suppose it was pretty good. I don’t watch too many of them unless I’m really really interested in the subject, though, and this one was right up my alley. I love movies (obviously) & movie poster art and Drew Struzan has designed some of the greatest & most well known movie posters. So I’ll warn you right now that I may end up talking more about his art than about the actual documentary.

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Personal Life:

What I liked about this documentary, as with any documentary, was finding out more about Struzan’s personal life as well as his work. They talked to him and to his wife a lot and they seemed to have a lovely, very close relationship (I love a good husband & wife team). I’d say Struzan came across as a bit bitter and angry over certain things (he got very screwed over by someone in his career so I can understand that anger). He was the very definition of a “starving artist” in his early days and his wife was always by his side. I think this documentary got the balance right in talking about his personal life as well as his art. I can’t find any photos of his wife (Dylan) in the documentary, which is odd as she’s a very important part of it. But I found the above photo here, on the website of an artist who met Drew. It’s an interesting article if you want to have a look at the link & get an actual artist’s perspective on things (I can’t draw anything other than stick figures. I can’t even paint a wall properly!).

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It’s interesting how artistic types can sometimes be difficult but I liked how Struzan seems to have said “screw it” and lives for his wife & his art now. I’m difficult too but I have zero artistic talent of any sort so I don’t know what my excuse is… 😉 I’m not saying he came across as unlikeable – just that he does what he wants to do now & too bad if others don’t like it. I think more people should be like that, actually. He was far less grumpy than Paul Williams was in the Paul Williams Still Alive documentary that I watched at the same time. I suppose I should do a mini-review of that sometime too… Here’s my review: Paul Williams is a grumpy fart! Lol. Seriously, though, Struzan came across as a private person who’s very passionate about the things he loves and I have a lot of respect for people who are like that.

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Artwork:

First of all, I’ll say they did a good job getting some famous people to talk about Struzan and the work that he did for/with them (I especially loved Michael J. Fox’s enthusiasm for Struzan’s work – you could tell just how much he loved being a part of the Back To The Future posters). Speaking of grumpy famous people, they even got Harrison Ford to talk about Struzan! How cool is that? He must be the actor Struzan has painted more than any other… We also heard from Guillermo del Toro, George Lucas, and Thomas Jane.

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I’m really glad they spoke to Thomas Jane about his part as a movie poster artist in Frank Darabont’s The Mist. For anyone not familiar with the movie, Struzan’s artwork was used in the beginning and Jane’s character is shown painting Struzan’s art for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower (which Struzan painted specifically to be used in The Mist). Three things I love all together: Stephen King, Drew Struzan & Frank Darabont! Wait… Four! Thomas Jane is a hottie. Anyway, Struzan showed Jane how to make it look like he was really an artist doing a painting then, being the perfectionist that he is, later told Jane that he did it completely wrong in the movie. I loved Jane’s re-telling of the story – he had a great sense of humor about it.

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Frank Darabont is clearly a big fan of Struzan’s as he’s had him do art for a lot of his work (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Walking Dead, and of course artwork for & in The Mist). George Lucas is also a huge fan and Struzan has done loads of Star Wars art for books, anniversary editions, etc. There are so many different Struzan Star Wars pieces that it’s hard to choose a favorite. I think it’s between Revenge Of The Jedi & this one, which was a collaboration with artist Charles White III:

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Struzan did the poster art for Hellboy but he also did an amazing piece for Pan’s Labyrinth, which the studio rejected (much to Guillermo del Toro’s anger). But del Toro is very proud to have this hanging in his home – I’d love to have this!:

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I hate how studios so often feel the need to have horrible, boring movie posters just featuring photos of the film’s stars these days. I understand that seeing the stars so prominently displayed convinces some people to watch a movie (I guess?) but it doesn’t work on me. I’m more interested in a film if it has a really interesting, artistic poster (I’m the same way with books. I’m drawn to books with good covers). Struzan paints the film’s stars anyway so I don’t know why anyone would ever choose some crappy photoshopped photo over a painting for a movie poster. I’d much rather see something like this:

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Summary:

I’ve decided to stop here for a couple of reasons. First of all, I sometimes feel ridiculous “reviewing” movies when I know as little about filmmaking as I do about writing. When it comes to art, I have even less experience or knowledge. I just know what I LIKE and I have a passion for film, music, books, and art & love discussing it with all of you in the same way that someone like Struzan has a passion for actually creating that art. Believe me, I’d far rather be creating it but I just don’t have that ability.

Second of all, if I continue I know I’ll just ramble on & on about all my favorite Struzan pieces. So, in the middle of this, I decided to do a separate list of My Top Ten Drew Struzan Movie Art Pieces, which I’ll post tomorrow. I’ve actually not even mentioned a lot of my favorites, including the one that is my favorite Struzan poster, hands down. I’ll just mention this as I decided that my list tomorrow should focus on only his movie art: When watching this documentary, I had NO idea that Struzan had done album covers and that he did one of my all-time favorites for Black Sabbath. How on Earth had I not known that?! The Alice Cooper one is amazing as well:

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Love those! Like I said, I know what I like and I know that seeing Drew Struzan movie art makes me happy. As for this documentary, I really enjoyed it as I find the subject matter fascinating and it was great getting to know a little bit about this private and talented artist.

My Rating: 7.5/10

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The Green Mile (1999) IMDB Top 250 Guest Review

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Today’s IMDB Top 250 Guest Review comes from Zoe of The Sporadic Chronicles Of A Beginner Blogger. Zoe is loving this IMDB project – she’s already reviewed The Departed (which you can read HERE) and she’s planning on doing more! (And may have done another one already…) 😉 Thanks so much for the reviews, Zoe!

Now let’s see what she has to say about The Green Mile, IMDB rank 65 out of 250…

There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone wants to do a guest IMDB Top 250 review. You can find the list HERE. See the full list & links to all the films that have been reviewed HERE.

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Here’s another entry for Table 9 Mutant’s IMDB Top 250 challenge. I have been having so much fun with this, revisiting some movies, checking them all for her, some of them I have been meaning to look into again for so long, and now I finally have the driving factor. This is a movie that I hold most dear, who lived up to every inch of the book, proving that you can, in fact, adapt a book successfully if you just know what you are doing.

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“On the day of my judgment, when I stand before God, and He asks me why did I kill one of his true miracles, what am I gonna say? That it was my job?”
– Paul Edgecomb

The Green Mile is an absolutely stunning tale of the supernatural, faith, the strange things, horror, hope, miracles and all sorts of things. Naturally, when it begins, you don’t really know what is coming. I mean Stephen King is renowned for horrors, but what some people forget is that he is an exceptionally talented author who has more skills than just to terrify the pants off of you. From his strange mind he brought us an account, one that makes you smile, one that makes you sad, one that evokes anger and pity all at once. John Coffey is portrayed by Michael Clarke Duncan (R.I.P.), and I think he was superbly cast to play the giant that was accused of the disgusting slayings of two young girls. He is a monster of a man, not the most intelligent person in the world, but shy, wholesome and well-mannered, very incongruent to the hulking monstrosity his physical exterior represents.

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“People hurt the ones they love. That’s how it is all around the world.” – John Coffey

Coffey’s character can only grow on you, and if it does not, then there is something fundamentally flawed in you. He was pure innocence in a world of cruelty, anger and hatred, and even though he was wronged, he did not take it out on anyone once. I loved the relationship he developed with the guards Paul Edgecombe (Tom Hanks), Brutus “Brutal” Howell (David Morse), Dean Stanton (Barry Pepper) and Harry Terwilliger (James DeMunn). It was great to see how they interacted with this man on death row. Then there was Tom Hanks, again pulling together a great drama role right here as Paul, the man who had to get to the bottom of whatever was going on, who was drawn in and fascinated by Coffey, a peaceful and pure human being. Naturally not everyone was going to be so nice, and Dough Hutchison did a fine job as Percy Wetmore… in other words, I really did just want to climb over somewhere and kill him. He was inhumane, he was cruel and he deserved so much more than a big, fat slap. He was revolting and evil to the core, and was intent on throwing his weight around and bullying everyone no end. People like that sicken me, and he was incredibly convincing, always selfish, putting himself ahead and being resentful at every available opportunity.

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“Try it! You’ll be on the bread lines before the week is out!” – Percy Whetmore

Sam Rockwell was simply brilliant as “Wild Bill” Wharton, and impressed me with his portrayal of the malicious and wicked man. He was undeniably cracked and never once let you forget about it. He was the very embodiment of what I expected from King’s character. I also enjoyed David Morse, whom I find to be an underappreciated actor. He lent dignity and morals to Brutus and gave him real flesh and character. The movie’s pacing was gradual though never boring, but you must not expect something gushing action in every scene, never relenting or letting you breathe. This is a film designed to make you chew over it, think about it and make decisions based on that.

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“All I wanted me was a little cornbread, motherfuckers! All I wanted me was a little cornbread!” – William “Wild Bill” Wharton

I enjoyed how the film was set in the thirties, and the appearance of the prison, the uniforms, the way of life… things was done so much differently. Coffey’s gift being discovered was a thing of beauty. Paul had been suffering for a while with a severe bladder infection, and in a moment of fear and pain, Coffey had healed him, fixed the problems. Such is the nature that shows that Coffey is special, that he is amazing and that he should not be where he is, though he is there now and will have to make the best of it. The guards all become rather protective of Coffey and develop a respect and friendship with him, though not everything is destined to go that way. Paul’s relentless need to get to the bottom of what really happened is touching, and it shows you how one person can change your perception in life as well as how you go about it.

I honestly believe The Green Mile is a classic, and most definitely something that everyone should see at least once in their lives. Frank Darabont again gave another striking vision of a King novel, something I am starting to feel only he fully grasps.

I just can’t see God putting a gift like that in the hands of a man who would kill a child. – Paul Edgecomb

CPD Classics: The Shawshank Redemption (1994) Review

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The Shawshank Redemption (1994)

Directed by Frank Darabont

Based on Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption by Stephen King

Starring:
Tim Robbins
Morgan Freeman
Bob Gunton
William Sadler
Clancy Brown
Gil Bellows
Mark Rolston
James Whitmore
Jeffrey DeMunn

Music by Thomas Newman

Running time: 142 minutes

Plot Synopsis:
Andy Dufresne is a banker sent to Shawshank State Prison after being convicted of murdering his wife and her lover. While there, be becomes friends with fellow inmate Ellis Boyd “Red” Redding. Through years of hardship, Andy maintains his innocence and never gives up hope.

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Why It’s A CPD Classic:

First off, I’ll point out that this is in the IMDB Top 250 so I figured it would be a good one to do today to help kick off all the guest IMDB Top 250 reviews that I’ll start posting next week (More about that after the review). And what a place to start! The Shawshank Redemption takes the number one spot, having been voted as the best movie of all-time by IMDB users. So why is that….?

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I’m a Shawshank lover. Yep – I’m one of those mainstream masses who is perfectly happy to see Shawshank at number one above the likes of The Godfather and Citizen Kane. Yep – it’s a “feel good” movie. Yep – it may sometimes try a little too hard to be a “feel good” movie. You know what? I don’t care. Because this movie DOES make me feel good! And there’s nothing wrong with that. And most importantly, to me, it has these amazing feel good moments yet it doesn’t feel contrived. Most of us film lovers can see right through that. If Shawshank was guilty of that, it wouldn’t have stayed in the number one spot for all these years. It tells a pretty straight forward story in a straight forward way. I suppose thanks can go to Stephen King for that, my very favorite author and whose adapted works will be featuring more than just this once in my CPD Classics series.

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But clearly the combination of Stephen King & Frank Darabont just WORKS. The Green Mile is also absolutely fantastic and I think The Mist is a great underrated film. Oh, and I have to mention a third very important element: Thomas Newman. I ADORE so many Thomas Newman scores. He’s amazing & doesn’t quite seem to get the credit he deserves. Now isn’t the time to go into him, though, as I think I should devote an entire post to him someday.

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I don’t know if I need to go into any detail with this review. I would assume that most everyone has seen this movie by now and, if not, I think it’s extremely well known what happens in it anyway. I love this film and I’m clearly not alone in feeling this way, although I rarely see it mentioned amongst bloggers here so I’d love to know everyone’s thoughts on this one in the comments below. Is it too mainstream for the blogging crowd? Too obvious & “feel good”? Am I now going to be considered uncool and you’ll all run me out of (WordPress) town?

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I think there are a lot of things that make The Shawshank Redemption such a widely loved film and the movie just gets so many things “right” that they all combine to give us something spectacular: Feel good moments like the beer & opera scenes (which never fail to move me no matter how many times I watch this movie). Andy & Red’s friendship. The lesser characters such as Brooks & Heywood (and the heartbreakingly beautiful “Brooks Was Here” theme from Thomas Newman). Seeing the posters on the wall change, showing the passage of time. Alexandre Dumbass. The pet bird. Rita Hayworth. And, of course, the overall message of hope.

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More than anything, though, I think it’s Stephen King’s story and Darabont’s ability to give us scenes of pure beauty in a movie based someplace as awful as a prison, along with Thomas Newman’s amazing score plus superb narration from the always lovely-to-listen-to voice of Morgan Freeman which may all be most to thank for making The Shawshank Redemption as near to perfection as I think any film could ever really get. That’s why The Shawshank Redemption is a CPD Classic.

My Rating: 10/10

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(That’s the first 10 I’ve given on my site)

IMDB Top 250 Guest Reviews: Thanks once again to all who signed up to help me finish my IMDB Top 250 Challenge by doing guest reviews. I’m still amazed by the huge response and can’t believe I’ve already received some reviews! So I’ll be starting to post them next week (I’ll e-mail you to let you know when yours will be posted). There are still some movies up for grabs if anyone else would like to join in! You can find a list with the remaining movies HERE.

JOHN HUGHES BLOGATHON: Also, a quick reminder that March is when I’ll be having the John Hughes blogathon (so the Top 250 thing will go on hold for a month). I’ve had several reviews so far – thank you everyone! I’d like to receive the rest by the end of this month at the latest so that I can get them all scheduled & let you know when yours will be posted. Reviews can be e-mailed to tableninemutant at hotmail dot com. AND – I’d be happy for anyone to still join!!! You can do any film you want. See more details HERE. 🙂