Appaloosa – A Movie Review

This western directed by Ed Harris stars both he and Viggo Mortensen.  It also costars Renee Zellweger and Jeremy Irons.  I remember aching to get to the theater to see Appaloosa when it came out and really regretting I never made it.  So when I finally got around to watching it on DVD, I had very high expectations.

Those expectations were severely uncalled for.

On paper, the acting alone should have made this a great movie, but it failed to impress.  Mortensen, as usual, delivered a subtle performance, but he seemed to suffer from the haphazard plot and script.  Renee Zellweger’s role encompassed every negative trait you could give a woman, and I just don’t buy Jeremy Irons as a cowboy.  Sorry.  But Ed Harris – oh, Ed Harris.  Shame on you, you normally fantastic actor.

Ed Harris adapted this movie from the novel and directed it, so the clichéd dialogue, slow pacing, and uninteresting characters (exempting Mortensen, of course), fell squarely on his shoulders.  Harris’ character obviously meant to come off as complex, but I found him inconsistent and silly.   And frankly, the movie as a whole came off the same.  I counted the minutes until it ended.

Appaloosa looked great in the trailers, but failed to entice when watched in its entirety.  Even the amazing Viggo Mortensen couldn’t save it.

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Cinderella Man – A Movie Review

When this film initially came out I thought it looked good, but it didn’t look good enough to spend my hard earned cash on.  I think this may have been the underlying problem when it came to this film’s promotion.  I now wish I’d trusted my instincts and gone to see this film on the big screen. 

Let me tell you this: If you decide to rent a movie soon, make it Cinderella Man.  I was blown away at the excellence of this film.  It’s the story of real life boxer James J. Braddock, a Depression era boxer who got a rare second chance at reaching the top of his profession.  James was a promising boxer in the late twenties, but when a string of losses occurred and the depression hit, he found he and his family living in a tiny apartment with no food and barely enough electricity.  But, James never gave up.  He kept his heart and his morals, and when his second chance came, he realized he wasn’t fighting for glory anymore, he was literally fighting for the milk his children so desperately needed to survive.  In his words, he now knew what he was fighting for.

Russell Crowe usually resembles something of a jerk in real life, but there is no denying this man is one of our greatest contemporary actors.  His Braddock is realistic and an everyman, and I dare all of you to resist cheering for him as he fights his way back to the top. 

Ron Howard, a man desperately underrated in my book, directs this film, and while it may not be well known amongst the masses of moviegoers, this film certainly deserves a best picture nomination, if not a win.

Renee Zellweger play Braddock’s wife, and she does an admirable job of it.  I had trouble buying her in this role, however.  She didn’t annoy me, but she just didn’t feel right.

Certainly the unsung hero of this film is Paul Giamatti who played Joe Gould, Braddock’s manager.  Like Braddock, he plays a man, a real man, and because he plays a real man with real ethics and loyalties, we can’t help but admire his heroicness.

The boxing scenes are realistic, not the sensationalized fair of Rocky, the tone of the Depression is spot on, and the acting and directing is superb.  This film will not disappoint.