Tag Archives: James Caan

The Throw Aways

A notorious hacker is captured by the CIA and forced to work for them. They were dumb enough to let the key to a very important cyber program get away and now they’re vulnerable to attack. It was pretty fucking stupid. So now they’ve threatened this hacker with prison unless he agrees to fix the problem for them and he agrees, at least outwardly. Secretly, he assembles his team using the lousiest CIA agents his algorithm can find. They’re a pretty lousy bunch. Boy is this going to be fun!

Last week we were happily lying on a beach in Mexico, reading between trips to the bar. My beach reads tend to be non-traditional at best – the first couple graphic novels in a series, the follow-up to The Paris Wife which is not called but could be called The Kenyan On-Again-Off-Again Wife, and a piece of nonfiction about cyber attacks perpetrated by and anticipated by the American government. It was good enough that I passed it to Sean as soon as I was done, even though I’d already recounted most of the exciting bits to him while bobbing up and down in various bodies of water.

Anyway, that’ s the problem with books. They get you all riled up about a subject suddenly you’re watching crappy movies just to keep the high going (inspired by the same book we also watched The Interview – you may remember that the movie’s very existence got North Korea so mad that they hacked Sony and released a bunch of embarrassing emails, including one in which Angelina Jolie is called “a minimally talented spoiled brat,” one where Kevin Hart is called a “whore,” ¬†and one in which Leonardo DiCaprio (or LDC, as Brad Pitt called him at the Golden Globes on Sunday) is called “despicable.” It is still a very bad movie.)

Don’t watch this movie. Do read The Perfect Weapon: War, Sabotage, and Fear in the Cyber Age by David E. Sanger if you have a modicum of interest. Bathing suit optional.


Remember in the 90s when they tried to make Adam Sandler and Damon Wayans the next big thing in buddy cop movies? No, you don’t. Nobody does, except little Jay, who had this forgotten artifact on her garage DVD shelf because she harboured a bonafide 90s crush on Adam Sandler from about 1993-2003, roughly. But they weren’t no Gibson & Glover, or Tucker & Chan, or Smith & Lawrence, or Tom Hanks & a series of dogs in the role of Hooch, namely a Dogue de Bordeaux named Beasley and his stunt double, Igor.

It was Sandler’s idea; Wayans hosted SNL in 1994 and Adam got it into his head that the two should do an action movie together. He soon sent him this script.

Keats (Wayans) and Moses (Sandler) are best friends and criminals, in that order. Until a deal goes wrong and Moses finds himself on the wrong end of an arresting officer – Keats, an undercover cop, insists on bringing his buddy in himself, safely, but things go even wronger and before you know it, Keats has a bullet in his head and Moses is on the lam.

Cut to: a year and a lot of rehab later, Keats is tasked with bringing Moses in yet again. This time he’s an important witness, turning state’s evidence against drug kingpin Colton (James Caan) who doesn’t take too kindly to betrayal. Cue a crazy roadtrip that goes wildly off the rails. Think exploding planes and flying bullets and a lot of dead agents and double crosses. Only it’s an Adam Sandler film (sorta – these were the days before his Happy Madison production company, so it’s not written and directed by his cronies), so also be thinking along the lines of toilet humour and crass sex jokes.

Is this a good movie? Of course not. You’d have to be Adam’s mom, or his secret tween girlfriend, to love it. And I bet his mom hasn’t even seen it. I heard an interview once where he said that when his new comedy album came out (yes I owned them all), he took his dad out to his car to listen to it. So his mom wouldn’t overhear. He protected her from his own vulgarity. His father is gone now, but if you’ve seen any of his Happy Madison films, you’ve seen and heard Mr. Sandler – he’s their logo. If you’ve seen any of Adam’s movies, you’ve likely recognized some faces; he’s extremely loyal. I could say his family is no exception, and that’s clearly true, but I believe his family is where his attitude originates.

As for the awkward homophobic bent of the film? I mean, no, it has no business being there. But it’s broad comedy, meant to elicit a tone-deaf guffaw from young men circa mid-90s. If Keats and Moses have to share a hotel room, why not insert gay joke? Don’t worry – we, the audience, paid for this directly when Adam released Chuck & Larry several years later. It placed him firmly in the “gay is okay” camp while decidedly not absolving him from the “makes shitty movies” camp down the street.

Anyway. You don’t need to be convinced not to watch this movie. You already didn’t watch it. Good for you. Continue exercising your good judgement. That is all.

Henry’s Crime

We are sitting smack dab in the golden days of the Summer of Keanu – John Wick 3, Always Be My Maybe, Toy Story 4 – a real career renaissance for Hollywood’s nicest leading man, a Keanussance if you will, though it doesn’t roll of the tongue quite as convincingly as McConaissance did.

Henry Torne (Keanu Reeves) is a toll booth operator and chronically nice guy in that passive way that drives his wife (Judy Greer) kind of crazy. He’s so nice, in fact, that he goes to prison for a crime he didn’t commit. Accused of bank robbery, he protects a friend (Fisher Stevens) and takes the sentence, losing his wife in the process. His cellie is a crazy man named Max (James Caan), away for life. Henry does his time and eventually leaves prison with one important lesson imparted by criminals more hardened than he: you did the time, you may as well have done the crime.

And that thought just niggles at him. So much so that he springs Max out of prison and they befriend a Buffalo actress (Vera Farmiga) who just happens to be doing a play in an old theatre that has a prohibition-era tunnel running from its basement straight to the bank’s vault. Convenient! Love and money, all in one fell swoop.

Of course, Henry is not exactly a professional thief. He got caught – and remember, he got caught for a crime he DIDN’T commit. How much of a disaster is he going to be with the real thing?

Safe to say this film (released in 2011) is NOT part of the Keanussance. Reeves suffers from the coolest of detachments while the rest ham things up. Farmiga in particular is several degrees north of TOO DAMN MUCH. Henry’s Crime is entertaining at times, merely watchable at others, and sometimes it’s just slow and not building to much. Sometimes I’m startled to come across titles featuring several prominent actors that I’ve simply never heard of before, but the reason why usually becomes quite clear, quite quickly. While there are worse crimes than Henry’s, a misdemeanor rather than a felony, it’s still not worth doing time for.

Blood Ties

I’m flipping through what Amazon Prime has deemed “top movies,” most of which I’ve seen before, many of which I’d disagree are “top” (some vehemently!), some I’d even disagree are “movies” but there are a couple I haven’t seen, so I take a gamble and click And Did They Listen? The truth is: I myself could not quite bring myself to listen. It’s a documentary that, in THEIR words mind you, is about “history’s only scientifically verified encounter with alien life.” Although the world alien may be misleading – although they appear to have visited in one of those tin-can UFOs that little boys in the 1950s might have dreamed up, they are actually human beings simply from another star universe. And for some reason, though they are touted as highly intelligent beings, they’ve decided to make sole contact with earth through a little boy, who grows up to be quite a crackpot with lots of vague predictions, some of which can’t help but come true. The documentary was so shoddily made and contained so much horseshit I gave up within minutes (and you know what kind of crap I’ll sit through in the name of a review!) – I think you might be better served just looking him up on Wikipedia and calling it a day.

So my second choice was Blood Ties, a 2013 film featuring the likes of Clive Owen, MV5BMjExNzk2OTUxNl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwODMyNzA4MDE@._V1_SX1500_CR0,0,1500,999_AL_Marion Cotillard, Zoe Saladana, Billy Crudup, and James Caan, that I’d somehow never seen. In it, Chris (Owen) is newly released from prison, and goes to live with his brother Frank (Crudup), a cop in 1970s Brooklyn. They did not live happily ever after. Instead, they draw lines, one on each side of the law, and they pull whomever they can down with them. But the whole family thing is just too hard to shake, and like it or not, their fates are pretty much intertwined. Which is a nice way of saying they’re fucked.

Ultimately, Blood Ties is good because it boasts a strong cast. But it flails almost everywhere else. The downward spiral is predicable, and while a movie like this should be about the descent, and not the outcome, the descent is hard to keep track of because there are a few too many subplots to keep score of, and not enough help with our scorecards. In other words: it becomes a chore. And like most chores, it keeps going until well past the point you’d want it to. But it was still preferable to the crazy man who invented a religion based on the spaceships he made out of trash can lids. So there’s that.