The Angriest Man in Brooklyn (2014) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.


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Robin Williams, may he rest in peace, was a brilliant actor. He expertly played both comedic roles and serious roles, and everything in between. The Angriest Man in Brooklyn displays William’s ability to switch from silly to sentimental without missing a beat. Nevertheless, the finished product really let him down. Based on the Israeli film The 92 Minutes of Mr. Baum (1997), it is not easy to rate the film at either ends of the spectrum, because while some aspects worked, others didn’t.

The film follows Henry Altmann (Robin Williams), the titled ‘Angriest Man in Brooklyn’. While some people have bad days, Altmann has one every day. He hates anything and everything, and as a result, he is not too popular himself. A car accident brings him to the doctor’s office, where Dr. Sharon Gill (Mila Kunis) attends to him. Her day has not gone so smoothly either, and in a moment of weakness, she reveals he has a brain aneurysm – this is true – and that he has only 90 minutes left to live – this is false. The news hits Henry hard, and he rushes out of the office, desperate to find his loved ones and make amends, all within an hour-and-a-half. Of course, a lifetime of resentment is not so easily forgiven. Will Sharon reach him before the pressure overcomes him? Will Henry find a way to reconnect with all those he hurt? Or is it really too late to change the past?

As I said before, there are both equally good and bad aspects of this film that make it hard to give a definite rating.

Firstly, it is always a treat when we get to see both the serious and comedic talents of Robin Williams. Never again we will be witness to his brilliance, so any project he has been involved in automatically becomes a treasured product – whether it was successful or not.

Secondly, there is no doubt that the message of the movie is positive. No one knows exactly how much time he or she has left on Earth, and time spent fighting is time wasted.

Though the cast list boasts a lot of stars – Robin Williams, Mila Kunis, Peter DinklageJames Earl Jones, etc. – their talents were not put to use. The latter characters were merely cameos, though it did fit with the ‘rushed’ theme of the movie.

The dialogue and story were also quite cliché and in no way realistic. A doctor would never deceive a patient like Kunis’ character did; and if they did, they wouldn’t keep their job for long. While the film is not supposed to be a true story, this does detract from its overall believability.

Online reviews have not been the most positive, either, and most consider it not bad enough to be comical, just plain bad.

With so many mixed opinions, it is hard to say either way. So, either watch the movie, or just watch the trailer, because the trailer is basically the entire movie in two minutes.

3 out of 5 stars

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Blood Ties (2013) – Review

As seen on CinemaParadiso.


 

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Film adaptations of novels are not known for being well received by audiences, and remakes are even less successful, rarely worth the cost of the cinema ticket. Blood Ties suffers both of these. It is a French-American crime thriller, directed by Guillaume Canet, but even its talented cast cannot compensate for the shortfalls.

The story takes place in 1974, when Chris Pierzynski (played by Clive Owen) is released from prison. He has been serving nine years for murder, and is ready to turn his life around. But despite his good intentions and new relationship with Natalie (Mila Kunis – who would have thought she would be the one from That 70’s Show that would make it big?), the lures of old habits overcome him, and he returns to his criminal ways. If that was not bad enough, his brother Frank (Billy Crudup, who also stars in the amazing upcoming film Rudderless) is a New York cop. The conflict between the brothers tears are their sister Marie (Lili Taylor), and their sick father Leon (James Caan), who just want the two to get along. It is not until Frank is arresting a man named Anthony Scarfo (Matthias Schoenaerts) that he is re-united with his ex-girlfriend Vanessa (Zoe Saldana), who is currently married to Anthony and have a daughter together. Of course, Vanessa now wants to get a divorce, and she and Frank rekindle their relationship, much to the ire of Anthony. Anthony tries to kill Frank, and it is up to Chris to protect his brother, at whatever the cost.

If it wasn’t for the talented cast, this movie would be a complete write-off. The story seems simple enough, and something seen in films many times, but it is how the actors make us feel for these particular characters that keep you watching. The essence of New York in the 70s is done well, with costume, scenery and minute details doing a lot more than other era-specific films have done.

Despite interesting set-ups and moments when all aspects of production work in harmony, the film becomes stagnant. The two-hour running time shows the lack of character development, except for the two lead characters. While this development is obviously important, you lose the reality of the film, and see how everything happens just for Chris and Frank’s progress. If you’re not the type to read into films too much, than this might not be an issue for you. The film will certainly entertain many viewers, but isn’t award-worthy.

Blood Ties has received mixed reviews, most rating it around 50 out of 100. Use of violence, swearing, sexual conduct and drug use will restrict its audience, and is a surprising job choice for some of the cast. The film reportedly had a production cost of $25,500,000, an astounding sum of money and all the more reason to be disappointed in the finished product. As with every film, every viewer is different, but for me, even the vast amount of swearing in the trailer was enough.

2 out of 5 stars