Mark Boone Junior

The Mandalorian (2019) s01e06 – The Prisoner

It is a dark time for “The Adventures of Baby Yoda.” Second lackluster episode in as many weeks, with the show creators really thinking anyone cares about the adventures of “Mando the Mandalorian” Pedro Pascal when he’s not being an adorable dad with Baby Yoda. This episode’s director, Rick Famuyiwa, isn’t much better than last episode’s director—and as far as the use of wipes to move between characters, in real-time, meaning a wipe every minute and a half, is the worst creative decision in “The Mandalorian” so far. Whether it’s Famuyiwa or editor Jeff Seibenick’s idea, it’s a terrible device and kills any suspense in the scenes. Though it’s unclear if there’d be suspense in the scenes given the middling Ludwig Göransson music and the ineffectual sound design.

What’s so bewildering about “Mandalorian”’s recent fails is how obvious they’ve been. This episode has Pascal teaming up with some space mercenaries to do a heist. There’s humanoid leader Bill Burr, who manages to give one of the episode’s better performances just because he’s not awkwardly bad. There’s Richard Ayoade voicing a really boring insect-headed droid (I think I had the figure). Then there’s Clancy Brown as a devil alien with horns. He’s terrible. And it seems like he’s terrible because his makeup is done in such a way he can move his facial muscles. As for other aliens Natalia Tena and Ismael Cruz Cordova, whether they’re bad because of the makeup or the performances, it doesn’t matter. Famuyiwa and company’s lack of interest in having good performances is aggravating, especially since there’s so little Baby Yoda and so many minutes (at forty-three minutes, The Prisoner is the longest episode so far).

Mark Boone Junior shows up as the heist planner. He’s okay, though completely phoning it in. They also credit him as “Mark Boone Jr.,” which isn’t his name but whatever. They don’t have to be accurate or even good. They know if you’re hooked on Baby Yoda, you’ll keep showing up.

Actually, when you think about it, they didn’t know everyone would be hooked on Baby Yoda because Jon Favreau really thought people wanted to watch him play with his classic Kenner Star Wars figures.

But it’s concerning bad Famuyiwa does with the direction. It’s a kind of intensely pedestrian and makes me want to avoid his other work. Very different from the previous directors (oh, wait, the women), whose direction encouraged interest.

2 Fast 2 Furious (2003, John Singleton)

At some early point during 2 Fast 2 Furious–probably soon after the first car race, it becomes clear the film has two major influences for director Singleton. First, Star Wars. The car races often feel like Singleton is shooting an X-Wing sequence. Second, dumb white cop/black cop eighties movies. In this one, Paul Walker is serious white cop while Tyrese Gibson is funny black cop.

They’re not actually cops, they’re undercover ex-cons trying to clear their records. It doesn’t matter. For a movie about two childhood friends reconnecting in their adulthood, there’s no character development in 2 Fast. Singleton doesn’t just have superficial banter and car races, there’s Mr. Big too!

Cole Hauser, apparently in make-up as a Cuban-American but playing a German Miami villain (did they change their minds last minute and give him a new name?), is an evil Mr. Big. He tortures people and he menacingly cuts his cigars.

The torture scene is actually rather disturbing. Singleton manages not to take much seriously but even he apparently has limits.

Walker’s not any good, but he’s somewhat likable; his Keanu Reeves impression is improving. And while Gibson struts instead of acts, some of his lines work out well. As the girl, Eva Mendes is harmless. Hauser’s silly, James Remar’s atrocious, but otherwise, the supporting cast is fine.

Except Devon Aoki; she’s bad.

Good photography from Matthew F. Leonetti, bad editing from Bruce Cannon and Dallas Puett.

Decent car races.

Pretty dumb movie.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Singleton; screenplay by Michael Brandt and Derek Haas, based on a story by Brandt, Haas and Gary Scott Thompson and characters created by Thompson; director of photography, Matthew F. Leonetti; edited by Bruce Cannon and Dallas Puett; music by David Arnold; production designer, Keith Brian Burns; produced by Neal H. Moritz; released by Universal Pictures.

Starring Paul Walker (Brian O’Conner), Tyrese Gibson (Roman Pearce), Eva Mendes (Monica Fuentes), Cole Hauser (Carter Verone), Ludacris (Tej), James Remar (Agent Markham), Thom Barry (Agent Bilkins), Devon Aoki (Suki), Roberto ‘Sanz’ Sanchez (Roberto), Mo Gallini (Enrique), Edward Finlay (Agent Dunn), Jin Auyeung (Jimmy), Michael Ealy (Slap Jack), Amaury Nolasco (Orange Julius), Eric Etebari (Darden) and Mark Boone Junior (Detective Whitworth).


Cold Around the Heart (1997, John Ridley)

From the first few minutes—after lengthy opening titles (if only one knew it’d be Mason Daring’s worst score ever)—it’s immediately clear something is terribly wrong with Cold Around the Heart. David Caruso and Kelly Lynch are awful in the opening scene, followed by a terrible cameo from Richard Kind. Except, during Kind’s atrocious appearance—where it becomes obvious Ridley’s script is going to have some terrible, post-Tarantino dialogue—Caruso is all of a sudden really good.

And Caruso stays good for most of the film. He’s never good with Lynch, who’s astoundingly bad throughout, but he never repeats the awfulness of the first scene.

Stacey Dash shows up as a hitchhiker—Caruso and Lynch are stick-up artists; Lynch betrays Caruso and he’s after her—and she and Caruso form an odd friendship. Dash has a lot of problems, most she has nothing to do with. Ridley cast her, around the age of thirty, as a fifteen year-old. She can’t surmount that one. But she gets good throughout and she and Caruso’s relationship is refreshingly honest.

The best performance in the film is from Chris Noth, who shows up in the second half. John Spencer shows up for a bit and is, unfortunately, lame. Much like Pruitt Taylor Vince, it appears to be Ridley’s fault. He can’t direct actors.

On the whole, Ridley composes shots well and Malik Hassan Sayeed is an excellent cinematographer.

It’s a bad film. It’s got good elements, but it’s quite bad.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Written and directed by John Ridley; director of photography, Malik Hassan Sayeed; edited by Eric L. Beason; music by Mason Daring; production designer, Kara Lindstrom; produced by Craig Baumgarten, Dan Halsted and Adam Merims; released by 20th Century Fox.

Starring David Caruso (Ned), Kelly Lynch (Jude), Stacey Dash (Bec), Chris Noth (T), John Spencer (Uncle Mike), Pruitt Taylor Vince (Johnny Cokebottles), Richard Kind (Nabbish) and Mark Boone Junior (Angry Man).


Vampires (1998, John Carpenter)

Vampires is a mess.

I mean, there’s some good stuff in it, but it feels like the least interesting parts of the characters’ stories. There’s a little bit of sequel setup–and the never happened sequel seems a lot better–but so does a prequel to the film’s events.

It takes place over a couple days and a lot happens in them. To fill the audience in, Carpenter has a bunch of expository scenes. While they’re not terrible, they’re just James Woods swearing a lot and beating up Tim Guinee. Woods and Carpenter sell the scenes… it’s just unfortunate the scenes are so narratively unnatural.

Carpenter opens with a big vampire battle scene, introduces his characters, then proceeds to kill off most of them. He leaves Woods and Daniel Baldwin. Woods is the lead, so he has to stick around. But Baldwin? He’s not even a sidekick. Almost immediately after the movie’s done with its setup, Baldwin’s off babysitting Sheryl Lee as she turns into a vampire.

The babysitting scenes are really, really boring.

A lot of the problem is Carpenter’s approach to vampires. They’re very bestial, but by dehumanizing them, they don’t make good villains. There’s not a single scary moment in the film and some of the scenes–the vampires digging themselves out of the ground–just look silly.

The performances are okay. Guinee’s good, Baldwin and Lee have really good moments. Maximilian Schell is bad.

Nice cinematography from Gary B. Kibbe. Carpenter’s totally dispassionate, but still professional.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by John Carpenter; screenplay by Don Jakoby, based on a novel by John Steakley; director of photography, Gary B. Kibbe; edited by Edward A. Warschilka; music by Carpenter; production designer, Thomas A. Walsh; produced by Sandy King; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring James Woods (Jack Crow), Daniel Baldwin (Anthony Montoya), Sheryl Lee (Katrina), Thomas Ian Griffith (Jan Valek), Maximilian Schell (Cardinal Alba), Tim Guinee (Father Adam Guiteau), Mark Boone Junior (Catlin) and Gregory Sierra (Father Giovanni).


Trees Lounge (1996, Steve Buscemi)

I suppose it would be possible for Trees Lounge to be more depressing. It’s a character study; the epical part of the narrative forces the protagonist (writer, director, star Buscemi) to realize he does not just dislike himself, he’s never really liked himself, and he’s not just hurting people now, he’s always been hurting people.

Maybe the most stunning thing about the film–besides Buscemi’s direction of actors–is how he inserts humor into the mix. There’s a running gag with a kid never getting ice cream and when Buscemi falls asleep drunk at a wake, it’s played humorously. The first part is more “cleanly” funny (it also foreshadows how people in general do not think about how events effect others–something very important in the narrative towards the end), while the second is awkward. The film’s full of desperate alcoholics and occasionally Buscemi makes them funny, giving the viewer little warning.

Buscemi juxtaposes his character’s arc against Mark Boone Junior’s. The difference is in the self-realization (Trees Lounge might even have a happy ending, there’s about a fifteen percent chance).

He spends the first forty-five minutes of the film exploring the ground situation, then introduces one event to stir up the pot. It’s a lovely plot structure, made perfect by the excellent dialogue.

Amazing supporting performances abound–Boone is great, as is (especially) Chloë Sevigny. Daniel Baldwin and Mimi Rogers have superb small parts. Samuel L. Jackson is outstanding in a cameo.

It’s a fantastic, depressing film.

4/4★★★★

CREDITS

Written and directed by Steve Buscemi; director of photography, Lisa Rinzler; edited by Kate Williams; music by Evan Lurie; production designer, Steve Rosenzweig; produced by Chris Hanley and Brad Wyman; released by Orion Classics.

Starring Steve Buscemi (Tommy), Mark Boone Junior (Mike), Chloë Sevigny (Debbie), Anthony LaPaglia (Rob), Elizabeth Bracco (Theresa), Michael Buscemi (Raymond), Eszter Balint (Marie), Daniel Baldwin (Jerry), Mimi Rogers (Patty), Carol Kane (Connie), Debi Mazar (Crystal), Kevin Corrigan (Matthew), Samuel L. Jackson (Wendell) and Seymour Cassel (Uncle Al).


30 Days of Night (2007, David Slade)

30 Days of Night is a fine example of bad writing hurting a good idea, which is what I heard about the comic book source too–vampires in Alaska with no sun, Dracula versus Northern Exposure, sounds like a good idea. But it’s just an idea, it’s not a two hour movie. There are some other basic writing problems–poor dialogue and an utter lack of back-story. It doesn’t make it difficult to sympathize with the characters’ plight (the nasty vampires do that one pretty well), but it does make it impossible for 30 Days to even approach a full experience. The simplest example is the absence of any explanation to why the characters are in the place they are in–the most isolation settlement in Alaska.

The actors take the most significant hits from the screenplay, Hartnett in particular. His character literally needs no more back-story than a reference to high school athletics (and where’s the high school in this town… couldn’t they have hidden in the high school? Or any school…) to be acceptable as the stoic lawman. In terms of his martial distress with Melissa George a lot more work is needed to make it good, but it doesn’t even have to be good, it just has to work. George is incredibly ineffectual in her role and I spent her first five minutes on screen recasting her role, then lost interest because she disappears. Mark Boone Junior probably comes out best.

The other big problem is the pacing. The first half hour or more takes place the first day, then it skips to the seventh, then to the seventieth, then to the twenty-ninth. It just isn’t believable, because there’s never any shots of the survivors surviving in the non-setpiece moments and because there’s not enough for the vampires to do when they aren’t attacking the survivors… I mean, I’d buy it if Danny Huston’s lead vampire (the vampires in 30 Days speak some variation of Klingon, which is real silly) sat and read poetry to his leading vampire lady… but they just go on pause.

But this post actually isn’t negative–it’s positive. David Slade’s a great director and he really works with the CG elements (mostly scenery) and the isolation. He also knows how to shoot actors (just doesn’t know how to hire writers–or a composer, the music is terrible) and action scenes and quiet scenes and make the whole thing a lot more palatable than the script deserves.

Oh, and Ben Foster. Foster chews scenery better than any actor in a generation, playing the film’s Renfield, in a performance Dwight Frye would admire. Foster only creates a performance here, not a character, which shouldn’t be a problem… if he were the only one….

Maybe Slade should have brought in the “Northern Exposure” writing staff to do the non-vampire stuff. They might have made the Alaskan setting a little more believable (the New Zealanders and Australians in the cast locking down American accents would have helped too).

1.5/4★½

CREDITS

Directed by David Slade; written by Steve Niles, Stuart Beattie and Brian Nelson, based on the comic book by Niles and Ben Templesmith; director of photography, Jo Willems; edited by Art Jones; music by Brian Reitzell; production designer, Paul Denham Austerberry; produced by Sam Raimi and Rob Tapert; released by Columbia Pictures.

Starring Josh Hartnett (Eben Olesen), Melissa George (Stella Olesen), Danny Huston (Marlow), Ben Foster (The Stranger), Mark Boone Junior (Beau Brower), Mark Rendall (Jake Oleson), Amber Sainsbury (Denise) and Manu Bennett (Billy Kitka).


Scroll to Top