05 January 2009

What Was I Smokin'?

So I found myself nestled comfortably on my couch next to books I should've been reading. My wife turned in early to adjust her schedule (she starts a new job next week and has to get up very early in the morning).

I see Smokin' Aces is on HBO. I remember the publicity for this movie when it was released and thought, "that might be a good movie to see." I never got around to it until tonight.

See, I like Jeremy Piven; I like Ray Liotta; Ben Affleck vacillates between tolerable to mildly entertaining. I realized last night that I like Jeremy Piven as Ari Gold; Ray Liotta as Henry Hill and Ben Affleck in Chasing Amy (best scene here, mind the language) and in two scenes of Good Will Hunting (here, with Asian subtitles, and here).

To try to transcribe the plot would certainly make my head explode and the same would befall you were you to try and read it. The parts that aren't obscenely opaque and predictable are just so...bad. Not good. Nonsensical. Even to try and recall it would give me a migraine.

Piven does an OK job playing someone strung out on Cocaine, but then, that doesn't seem real tough. But it's yeoman's work compared to what Andy Garcia put in. He's supposed to be a muckety-muck in the FBI and the damnedest thing happens. He affects some form of accent. No big deal to be sure, but he doesn't keep it. It's somewhat light in the beginning, gone in the middle and then thick at the end. All the more unnerving because I can't figure out for the life of me what the hell kind of accent it's supposed to be.
Liotta is Liotta, which is to say kind of scary. And he's one of the good guys.

The special effects are pretty good, especially the scene with the .50 caliber rifle. But it's far too much of a cheesy Tarantino rip-off. Old Quentin uses a bit much of the ultra-violence, but there's always a damn good story to go with it. Not this.
And there's too many damn characters. There should never be more than five principals, this movie has at least ten.

But Ryan Reynolds is the cream on this crop. I don't know why he's still around, but for the love of Jove, can we declare the Ryan Reynolds experiment over and never see him again? The man is the embodiment of milquetoast. They could have had a production assistant on camera reading his lines from the script and it would have carried as much heft.

Anyway, as the wife gets her schedule adjusted, I'm going to knock out a few movies that have been back-burnered far too long. Tonight it's 300. I hope it's better than last night, but it most certainly can't be worse.

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