Steve Zahn

January 10, 2014

Dallas Buyers Club

Dallas Buyers Club – Breakout

BREAKOUT

It’s funny when you follow the career of certain actors.  Some start strong, and fizzle out.  Others start weak, and grow to have a great career.  Others decide to confound you for years and suddenly make you open your eyes and realize, “Wow, so that’s what they could do?”  Two actors in particular have shown that in recent years.  One is Woody Harrelson.  Sure, he plays a goofy white guy most of the time, but after an Academy Award nomination a few years ago, and a string of hits at the box office, you can say Harrelson is one of those guys who’s come a long way from where he started.  The other actor is Matthew McConaughey, another Texas hick who was mostly known for chick flicks early in his career.  But after two straight years of critically acclaimed films, you can say he’s one of those guys that definitely can act.  See “Fraility” and “Lone Star” for early proof.  Now you have, “Dallas Buyers Club” a breakout for McConaughey, and for one my money, one of the best performances in all of 2013.

“Dallas” is the true story of Ron Woodroof, an electrician and hustler who might come off a bit racist, homophobic, and womanizing.  All in all, he’s one of the worst human beings you’d be unlucky enough to meet.  Woodroof contracts the HIV virus which eventually turns into AIDS and leads him down a road of not only self-discovery, but also redemption as he fights the FDA while trying to bring in unapproved medicine from out of the country to not only help himself, but an entire sub-community in the Dallas-area suffering from HIV and AIDS.

Within the first 16 minutes of “Dallas” I was drawn in by McConaughey’s performance.  I found myself both hating him, and feeling extreme sympathy for his situation.  His portrayal of Woodroof was haunting and his dedication to the characters was on the level of Christan Bale’s performance in “The Machinist” which is a parallel that a lot of people are currently making.  The difference between Bale and McConaughey’s performances is the characterization.  I never felt anything really for Bale’s Trevor Reznor, whereas with Woodroof I found myself hating him, and come the end, complete compassion.

Aside from McConaughey’s standout performance, I’d also go as far as saying this is Jennifer Garner’s best acting since “The Kingdom” and it’s nice to see that Steve Zahn is still getting work.  But, you also have a star-making performance by Jared Leto, who plays Rayon; a transgender man with AIDS who befriends Woodroof and helps him open The Dallas Buyers Club.  Leto, who also fronts the band “30 Seconds to Mars,” is the perfect foil to Woodroof and his acting really surprised me.  I’m left to wonder why he doesn’t try his hand at Hollywood films more often, but I guess band groupies are more lucrative.  The relationship between Rayon and Woodroof is the heartbeat of the film and you’ll be crushed by Leto’s performance.

“Dallas” is a film that depends on it’s actors’ performances, and it won’t disappoint.  It explores one of the unsung “heroes” during the 1980s AIDS epidemic and casts a light on how there really isn’t any money in the CURE for diseases, only the medicine that is “HELPING” the disease.  There is no doubt that McConaughey will be a heavy favorite when the Oscars are announced later this month, along with Leto in a supporting role.  Acting doesn’t get much better than in “Dallas Buyers Club.”

Fun Fact:  “Dallas” is Jared Leto’s first film in four years, since 2009’s “Mr. Nobody.”   

October 3, 2012

31 Nights of Halloween, Joy Ride

Joy Ride – Fun

Now for something completely different.  Some people say that imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, and when it works, it works really well (I made up the last part, but you get the point).  Let’s face it as well, the horror genre really hasn’t had an original idea in years, and don’t give me “torture porn” as an example, or any of this “Paranormal Activity” bullshit.  And while I do enjoy a bloody gore fest, I also appreciate something with a little more subtlety, and that could be the reason why I enjoy “Joy Ride” from 2001 so much.

I’ll say this about “Joy Ride” before i get started; the movie takes a lot from other movies.  It has bits of “Duel,” “The Hitcher,” and hints of classic road movies like “Midnight Run” perhaps, but even with all of those homages, the film works and doesn’t feel stale.

“Joy Ride” stars Paul Walker, Steve Zahn, and Leelee Sobieski as three friends on a road trip before they meet the ire of a spurned trucker out for blood.  The premise is simple, but the fact that there is real acting in the film helps, not to mention the chemistry between Walker and Zahn is fun to watch.  Sobieski is fine as essentially the damsel in distress (and a great Helen Hunt look-a-like), and the eerie voice of Ted Levine as “Rusty Nail” really works, mainly because you can’t help thinking about this.

The direction is atmospheric by John Dahl, and the writing by J.J. Abrams, pre-Lost, is well-crafted and doesn’t feel forced or awkward, as is a symptom in genre films.

Overall, it’s worth buying the ticket for this “Joy Ride” as there is plenty of suspense, horror, and a lot of fun.

Fun Fact:  The “CB” in the CB Radio stands for Citizens Band.

August 18, 2012

Rescue Dawn…And Inexplicably Behind Enemy Lines

HARROWING
Hey, remember that horrid dreck of a film Behind Enemy Linesstarring a more annoying than funny Owen Wilson and a completely phoning it in at this point Gene Hackman?  Yeah?  Well, Rescue Dawn is exactly like that.  Wait….no…no, no, no.  Rescue Dawn is nothing like that.  Rescue Dawn is practically the opposite of that.  Despite both films being about a pilot trying to survive while trapped in enemy territory, Rescue Dawn sets itself apart by being a HARROWING tale of desperation, will, and faith.  While, Behind Enemy Lines simply presents a cheap, clichéd, cash grab that only manages to make me want to gouge out my eyes with a dull spoon and/or puke uncontrollably.   But I’m not here to insult Behind Enemy Lines.  I’m here to talk about Rescue Dawn….and insult Behind Enemy Lines.
Rescue Dawn earns its spot with great survival films like Cast Away, The Road, and my personal favorite The Adventures Of Milo and Otis…uh…I mean The Edge.  Dawn has the advantage over those 4…um…3 by being a true story.  A situation that gains a whole new respect from its viewers by being filmed starkly, without pulling any punches.  Director Werner Herzog, oddly famous for actually eating his own shoe,  greatly delivers on the unflinching realism of being in a P.O.W. camp.  The effects of starvation and malnutrition, the desperation to escape, the fear of capture and the loneliness of isolation.  Its all there in spades. 
Usually, survival films provide great opportunities for some terrific performances.  Rescue Dawn is no different.  Christian Bale is always at his best when he gets to totally go method and manipulate his body, as he does here. (Lost 55 pounds for the role.)  However, Steve Zahn (Lost 40 pounds for the role.) and the vastly underrated Jeremy Davies (Lost 33 pounds for the role.) give him a run for his money.
If you want to see a quality drama with good acting, good direction, and good storytelling, then watch Rescue Dawn.  If you want to see a film that takes a similar situation and reduces it to a mindless, banal, poorly shot action film, then watch the vomit inducing dumpster fire that is Behind Enemy Lines.  Hell, watch them both…then tell me I’m wrong.  Sweet Lord, I hate Behind Enemy Lines.
Welcome to the new home of SimplisticReviews.net - We're currently still working on the site. You might notice a few issues, please be patient with us. Thanks! (Store also in testing — no orders shall be fulfilled.)
Scroll to top