ACTOR - Willem Dafoe

  1. SirPant
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The films of Willem Dafoe.

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Heaven's Gate 1980,  R)
Heaven's Gate
It's best to ignore everything you've heard about Heaven's Gate before watching it. Why should we care how much money it lost, it wasn't our money! It is beautifully filmed. Every frame is like a beautifully painted avant garde landscape, what you'd expect from an epic western, and this is an epic western my friends. It is epic in all aspects but it's hard to ignore its epic length. It is too long, it is true. Not a bad thing if you've got the time, none of the scenes are particularly boring or pointless, it's just that it seems like the editor has fallen asleep. Of course the editor has not fallen asleep, the director just got a little carried away, and why not I say! (Apart from the fact that he hasn't been able to make his own film since). It is indulgent yes but it is beautiful visually and the performances and the script is awe-inspiring. Hollywood should wake up and give all their money to Michael Cimino before it's too late, I want more of this!
The Loveless (Breakdown) 1983,  R)
The Hunger 1983,  R)
New York Nights 1984,  R)
Streets of Fire 1984,  PG)
Streets of Fire
Streets of Fire is quite a big production for a film with no real story. It's a 50% split between 80's Cheese and forced corniness. It is obviously a work of passion, the neon of the 80's reflecting in the style of the 50's, the elevated subway enclosing this small and seedy world of gangs and dancers. Visually it's great, it's very of its time and there isn't anything out there like it. The cast is odd, Rick Moranis is an angry pop promoter, Diane Lane is Ellen Aim - a kidnapped singer who bursts into song at every given moment, Willem Dafoe is an angry biker who looks like a vampire, the band 'The Sorels' is a whose who of 'that guy who was in that film in the 80's' and it's got Tommy from the Rugrats in it as a groupie called baby Doll. Bill Paxton plays the same character her always plays. Ten out of Ten for 80's bizarreness but this is to be loved only by cult followers, everyone else will feel disappointed (possibly with a headache).
Roadhouse 66 1984,  R)
To Live and Die in L.A. 1985,  R)
Platoon 1986,  R)
This is a great insight into the lives of the American soldiers serving during the Vietnam war. Oliver Stone was himself a soldiers serving in Vietnam, so you know that most of what you're seeing is authentic. Unfortunately for the very same reasons, I believe there is a lot he's left out. It's not my favourite war film but it is entertaining.
Dear America - Letters Home from Vietnam 1987,  PG-13)
Off Limits 1988,  R)
The Last Temptation of Christ 1988,  R)
Mississippi Burning 1988,  R)
Mississippi Burning
I think it would be wrong to dismiss Mississippi Burning due to it being a fictional story as there are plenty of similar stories that are very true on the subject. The 'talking head' interviews with the local people did help raise the issue that racism is born from hate which is in turn born from ignorance and that you certainly are not born with it. The levels of racism are also subtly examined, as high office, blue collar and everyone in-between are represented. The performances are powerful, Dafoe, McDormand and Dourif are all impressive but Hackman easily steals the show in one of his best roles to date. A great film from the late 80's.
Triumph of the Spirit 2000,  R)
Born on the Fourth of July 1989,  R)
Born on the Fourth of July
A more honest account this time from Stone which shows the brutal reality of the Vietnam war, it?s far superior to Platoon. Possibly the only time I think Cruise has really been great!
Cry-Baby 1990,  PG-13)
Classic John Waters. I liked this better than Hairspray and what a great cast! Iggy Pop's dancing did it for me!
Wild At Heart 1990,  R)
Wild At Heart
One of my favourite Lynch films. Watch his interview on the DVD extras of The Straight Story about 'Duck vision' then watch this film! It's also got a brilliant soundtrack!
The Flight of the Intruder 1991,  PG-13)
Light Sleeper 1992,  R)
White Sands 1992,  R)
Body of Evidence 1992,  R)
Faraway, So Close! (In weiter Ferne, so nah!) 1993,  PG-13)
Tom & Viv 1994,  PG-13)
Clear and Present Danger 1994,  PG-13)
Clear and Present Danger
Not a bad sequel, just as good as the first!
The Night and the Moment 1995,  R)
Basquiat 1996,  R)
Basquiat the movie has such a great cast telling the story of my favourite artist of all time. The best thing is that a lot of the actors knew Basquiat, Warhol and the other characters in real life, so you know you?re getting an authentic portrayal of real events! Brilliant!
The English Patient 1996,  R)
The English Patient
Painfully overrated, dull as dishwater and it rips off Ice Cold in Alex too!
Victory 1995,  R)
Speed 2 - Cruise Control 1997,  PG-13)
Speed 2 - Cruise Control
Aka: Speed poo - Flush control
Affliction 1997,  R)
Lulu On The Bridge 1998,  PG-13)
New Rose Hotel 1999,  R)
eXistenZ 1999,  R)
Not Cronenbergs best but it?s one of his more assessable movies
The Boondock Saints 1999,  R)
American Psycho 2000,  R)
American Psycho
A book no one thought could be filmed. It?s fair to say that it doesn?t come close to the book but it?s also fair to say that Mary Harron did as good a job as anyone could have done. This is a brilliant film with some brilliant performances, especially from Bale in one of his best ever roles. Mary Harron, I have to say is a very underrated director, as far as I can tell, it?s only her sex that seems to be stifling her career which is positively disgraceful!
Animal Factory 2000,  R)
Animal Factory
Steve Buscemi isn't just a pretty face ;o) He?s a brilliant director! Great cast, great film!
Shadow of the Vampire 2000,  R)
Shadow of the Vampire
Shadow of the Vampire is one of cinemas greatest little quirks. Urban legend has it that actor Max Schreck was in fact a real vampire when he played his role of Count Orlock (Dracula - but they didn't have the rights to call him that as Bram Stockers estate would not allow it). It was said that Schreck and director F.W. Murnau had a secret agreement, Murnau would reward Schreck with a human sacrifice and keep his Vampirism a secret if he would star in what would be the greatest and most realistic vampire movie ever made. As urban legend goes, it's one of the best in the history of cinema. To make it into a film was an act of risky genius. It was well received with critics but not many people went to see it. It made just over £200,000 which in movieland is a disaster. Personally I've not heard many people say nice things about it but now I've seen it I have to disagree. I love the idea and being a fan of the original (and the Herzog remake) I have to say I found it to be a great new chapter in the ongoing development of the original idea. I'm a sucker for films about films but not so much of mixing fantasy and reality. When doing so it is important to do so tastefully, with respect and creatively. Shadow of the Vampire does all that and more and is well worth a watch. Maybe give the original a watch first though for full effect.
Bullfighter 2003,  Unrated)
Pavilion of Women 2001,  R)
Edges of the Lord 2001,  R)
Spider-Man 2002,  PG-13)
I thought Rami captured the stylings of Stan Lee rather well in this comic adaption but underneath it all you have a poor story, annoying actors and questionable special effects.
Auto Focus 2002,  PG-13)
Finding Nemo 2003,  G)
Finding Nemo
Great animation, spoilt by rubbish story and too few laughs.
The Reckoning 2004,  R)
Once Upon a Time in Mexico 2003,  R)
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Once Upon a Time in Mexico has its great moments but it?s not as entertaining as desperado!
The Clearing 2004,  R)
Spider-Man 2 2004,  PG-13)
Spider-Man 2
Spider-man 2, I feel, was much better than the first. Alfred Molina was a fantastic Dr. Octopus and the story progressed quite nicely. It also stuck close to the comic which was appreciated by us comic fans (Who knew quite quickly, and got over the fact quite quickly, that the film was never going to live up to what we'd hoped for).
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou 2004,  R)
The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou
Touching, original, hilarious, sad, bizarre but above all brilliant. It's Anderson's biggest and boldest film to date but all the risks paid off. Brilliant.
Control 2005,  R)
The Aviator 2004,  PG-13)
The Aviator
There are two reasons why this isn't such a great film. First, DiCaprio is unconvincing as Howard Hughes. Second, Scorsese seems to have got lazy, the film is riddled with poor dialogue and dodgy special effects. The rest of the cast do a fantastic job and some of the set pieces are amazing, it's just no where near the usual Scorsese standard.
xXx: State of the Union 2005,  R)
Manderlay 2006,  Unrated)
I really didn't think he'd top Dogville but I think Lars von Trier has here with Manderlay. The sound-stage concept still feels fresh and the change of actors almost adds to the next chapter of the American trilogy (At least what was meant to be a trilogy, it's a terrible shame another film will now not be made). Everything about this film is first rate, I'm astonished by this film's low rating on flixster. I guess if you hold a mirror up to the world, the world doesn't always like what it sees.
Before It Had a Name (The Black Widow) 2007,  PG-13)
Ripley Under Ground 2005,  Unrated)
American Dreamz 2006,  PG-13)
American Dreamz
American Dreamz has good intentions, it just takes too much on. Weitz should have picked a subject, concentrated on that one subject and he'd have been laughing. In the end his attempt at satire just becomes a gibbering rant that goes of at such a tangent that the entire point soon gets lost. It's a shame but there are enough witty quips to keep you mildly entertained and I thought Dennis Quaid did a good Bush impression!
Inside Man 2006,  R)
Inside Man
A decent 'Bank Job' movie with an original twist.
Paris Je T'aime 2007,  R)
Gedo senki (Tales from Earthsea) 2010,  PG-13)
Gedo senki (Tales from Earthsea)
My least favourite Studio Ghibli film to date. Goro Miyazaki has a long way to go before he can fill his father's shoes, that and the fairly dull story make this film an overall disappointment. This is only because they have raised the bar so high themselves, this just isn't to their usual high standard, it sells itself as a great fantasy adventure and it really isn't. It feels like sacrilege saying it but it's true.
The Walker 2007,  R)
The Walker
I really wasn't feeling it at first but it soon grew on me and by the end I could say that I enjoyed it. I would say the same of Woody Harrelson's performance too, the film and his performance are much the same thing, like his performance, like the film and vice versa. The supporting cast is impressive although no one really has much to do apart from a two minute scene each, although they all do very well at what they do have. It's not your average murder mystery which helps keep one entertained but it does seem to lack that certain something that would make it special. I think it could have been something special but it's worth a watch as it is.
Mr. Bean's Holiday 2007,  G)
Mr. Bean's Holiday
Seventeen years after the television series first aired and ten years after the first film comes Mr. Bean's Holiday. A bizarre decision seeing as the character had been pretty much forgotten and deemed unfashionable (not to mention no longer very funny and nothing but a cheap money making scam thanks to the memorabilia that never seems to sell in most greetings card shops). Even more surprising is that it's not that bad. The direction at times is nothing short of beautiful. Bean doesn't talk too much and the comedy is focused more on the physical, like it always was. The story is a bit shoddy but there are some great stand alone scenes that make up for this. I still don't love it but it's a masterpiece compared to the first film.
Spider-Man 3 2007,  PG-13)
Spider-Man 3
After the fairly decent Spider-man 2, I had high hopes for this film, especially when the villains were announced and the fantastic looking poster/Trailers were released. Unfortunately, it turned out to be all gas and no fire, and possibly the biggest disappointment in the last 10 years of cinema. I did like this Bruce Campbell cameo though!
Go Go Tales 2007,  Unrated)
Anamorph 2008,  R)
Fireflies in the Garden 2011,  R)
Adam Resurrected 2008,  R)
The Dust of Time 2008,  Unrated)
Antichrist 2009,  Unrated)
Lars von Trier has made the ultimate horror movie. Now, think about the word horror. Are your biggest fears really of a guy in a mask running after you with an axe? Well mine ain't, mine are of loss, and that is what this film is about, I believe the title is a part dig (at the trend of aforementioned horror films) and part sarcasm. The main characters are on the brink of completely loosing everything that matters to them, what could be worse than loosing a child, partner and even your own mind. Throw in sex for uncomfortable taboo sake, not forgetting a bit of castration for good measure (again, it's about loss!), surreal but breathtaking imagery and what you are left with is something truly original and very beautiful but often discomforting and disturbing (It is Lars von Trier after all!). 'Film should be a pebble in your shoe', and if a jobs worth doing, it's worth doing properly. Please don't dismiss this film, sure Lars von Trier's work isn't to everyones taste but look at his films and see that he is very competent and very able and never arrogant or pretentious!
Farewell (L'affaire Farewell) 2010,  Unrated)
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done 2010,  R)
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done
My Son, My Son, What Have Ye Done isn't exactly what I was expecting from a collaboration of Lynch and Herzog but it's as good as I was expecting. Michael Shannon is intoxicating in the lead role and he really makes the film. Both directors show themselves here and there but keep their signatures slight and subtle - The true story is the star here as it should be and they've told it accordingly. The supporting cast also do a brilliant job and it is visually rich, far from disappointing and very haunting indeed. My kind of film!
Daybreakers 2010,  R)
Daybreakers was a very nice surprise, finally, an intelligent Vampire film that is as clever as it is full of action and gore. It's has every component a good modern Vampire film needs and also questions what Vampirism is and what it means, all set within a dystopian society. There are hints of the questions of hidden desires, addiction and religion and also that of control and power, over the years the Vampire has been used as a symbol of many different things, all are explored subtly and cleverly in this film. The cast is pretty good too, everyone pulling their weight and convincing in their roles. It's a great idea and they succeeded in bringing it to its potential, on quite a small budget in the grand scheme of things too. I applaud and look forward to seeing more from the brothers Spierig.
Fantastic Mr. Fox 2009,  PG)
Fantastic Mr. Fox
A hard book to adapt, animation in this style was probably the best solution and it is beautifully realised. As an animation, it's a five star film, few have surpassed it but as a comedy/drama, it doesn't play so well. I'm a massive Anderson film, not a huge Dahl fan but Fantastic Mr. Fox is a fond favourite from my childhood. I just don't think his style (narrative/script/quirks) work here, don't get me wrong, I was entertained, just not blown away.
The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day 2009,  R)
Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant 2009,  PG-13)
Miral 2011,  PG-13)
Reading the various negative reviews of Miral is laughable. I very much doubt that any of the critics have actually read Rula Jebreal's heartbreaking novel on which the film is based. I have actually read her novel, the true story of her life in the Dar El-Tifel orphanage and the film captures her words perfectly. Like any adaptation, there are parts missing but the key moments are there and are glorious - If there is one thing Julian Schnabel has proved, it's that he has the utmost respect for every adaptation he has directed. I would suggest that the critics have more problems with the political viewpoints than the film itself but that just shows their ignorance. Hind al-Husseini was a remarkable person and it is great to see her recognised here for the good she has done, it would be great to see a film dedicated to telling her story in detail. Julian Schnabel still doesn't seem to be getting the credit he deserves, maybe I'm a little bit biased because he made a film about my favourite artists and adapted my favourite book but then again, wouldn't that make me more critical of his work? Miral is a great film, it is not a 'muddled melodrama' like the American press would have you believe, it is an important insight into the lives of the orphans of the Deir Yassin massacre and the unrest there ever since and should be seen. Julian Schnabel has got this one just right, if he hadn't I very much doubt his girlfriend RULA JEBREAL!! would have let him direct/release it.
4:44 Last Day on Earth 2012,  R)
The Hunter 2012,  R)
The Hunter
Eerie, disconnected and quite bleak at times The Hunter is also quite moving and tender. Willem Dafoe was the perfect choice of actor to play the part of the Hunter, no doubt about it. His subtleties, his rugged edge and likable manner make for quite an interesting character. The story is original and interesting, it's also very believable. The contrast between heartwarming and heartbreaking is handled very well too, the performances are strong but most importantly it looks stunning. None of the usual rubbish here!
John Carter 2012,  PG-13)
John Carter
Well I actually quite liked it. Here I am again in the minority but unlike other favourite sci-fi books I read as a child (The Hitch-hikers guide to the Galaxy comes to mind) this is actually pretty close to being a perfect adaptation. Many have said that they should have maybe updated the story, given that it has influenced so much (pretty much everything) Sci-fi in the last 100 years but then what would the point of that? I'm really glad a real fan has brought this to the screen and stuck to the books. I wish it was called John Carter of Mars and I'd of liked an adaptation for each book but with fickle cinema goers who can't even be bothered to read anymore he did the very best he could and what he has made is pretty good in my book. Now, if someone could now make The Stainless Steel Rat and Bill, the Galactic Hero books my childhood will be complete.
Tomorrow You're Gone 2013,  Unrated)
Odd Thomas 2014,  Unrated)
Out of the Furnace 2013,  R)
Out of the Furnace
Scott Cooper's Out of the Furnace relies a little too heavy on stereotypes and the odd cliche but the character driven performances make it a worthwhile watch. It would probably loose every game of poker it played but it more than makes up for this in mood and grittiness. It's everything you want from a ballsy American drama. It's an age old story, Hollywood was built on it, Out of the Furnace is the retelling of countless classic westerns, classic War films and Noir thrillers of the 1940's. Fate, circumstance, justice ...and the American way. You say predictable, I say American classic in a new suit.
Nymphomaniac: Volume I 2014,  Unrated)
Nymphomaniac: Volume I
Nymphomaniac. The synopsis says: A self-diagnosed nymphomaniac recounts her erotic experiences to the man who saved her after a beating. This is essentially what the films are but this is merely the basis for what is an essay on society. Sex is everywhere in society, 'Sex sells' as they say, so it's the perfect focal point to begin the discussion. Everything can be compared to sex and everything comes back to sex. Indeed, we are all here because two people had sex. So when is sex wrong, when are we wrong and why are some of us more wrong than others. Once again, Lars von Trier flips what is regarded as correct on it's head. Triers film are provocative but those who are most offended are generally the ones who are least open to discussion. Nothing is shock for shock sake, everything has a reason. From the outset, a beautiful lit scene of snow falling in silence is followed by the deafening sounds of Führe mich by Ramstein. If it doesn't fit it is because you don't think it does, not because it is fact. I saw this in quite a prestigious London cinema that was full of young trendies and older arty types and judging by their reactions (of laughter during quite serious scenes) I get the feeling that the film with go misunderstood for quite a while. Anti-Christ got awful reviews on release, now it is looked on favorably by critics, I guess it's something to do with Trier, a misconception, maybe we're watching different films as this all seems quite obvious to me. You're enjoyment will depend on how much you want to be challenged during a film and how open to discussion you are. The two films need to be watched back to back to be appreciated fully, the first chapter is about youth, the naive part. The second film is adulthood and self-retribution among other themes.
Nymphomaniac: Volume II 2014,  Unrated)
Nymphomaniac: Volume II
Nymphomaniac, the conclusion. The second part appeals less somewhat (only just) for a few reasons. Manly because it doesn't have that one great scene like the first film had (the first part had several). My favorite scene of the first film is the one involving Uma Thurman's Mrs. H, my only criticism being the casting of Shia LaBeouf and his awful fake British accent. Interestingly, the Mrs. H scene is that of punishment. Joe is punished for her actions, she is ridiculed and made to look foolish by an adult. My favorite scene in the second part is similar but the complete opposite. Joe chooses to be punished, quite severely so, and ridiculed in this case by someone much younger than her. This parallel is the key to the film. Nymphomaniac is all metaphor, none of it is real. Trier takes the ordinary to the extreme to highlight how ridiculous our collective way of thinking often is. It is not about sex. It should be noted that the person our Nymphomaniac is talking to is a-sexual, so we have the perfect balance of ideas and ideals. I'd worry about anyone who thinks this film is either porn or sexy.
Nymphomaniac also signifies something else. I believe Trier is one of the greatest directors/storytellers of all time. All themes covered throughout his films are present in this film. Certain scenes are almost carbon copies. I believe this is intentional. I think this could mark the end of one and the beginning of another chapter in his career. His idea of right often being wrong and our perception of wrong often being right is a fascinating one and he explores it through some of the most striking films ever to have been committed to celluloid. As a film critic I welcome it, as I can write what I like and who is to say I'm wrong. Put that into an everyday context though, look at your life and question everything you see, is everything you know to be everything you think it is or do you take everything for granted? Believe nothing, question everything, opinion can be both fact and incorrect. Try a different cup of Tea for a change.

"A film should be like a stone in your shoe" - Lars von Trier.
The Grand Budapest Hotel 2014,  R)
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Wes Anderson is best known for his unique and vibrant visual style. The Grant Budapest Hotel is his largest, most challenging film to date but something of a change of pace as far as the storytelling goes. It's clearly a Wes Anderson film but the storytelling technique is different, more subtle than his previous work. This film is inspired by the writing of Stefan Zweig and captures the essence of his words perfectly. What you don't see is up to the viewer to interpret, in achieving this Wes Anderson has incorporated the very same feelings we have when reading a great book. No easy feat and I'm not sure anyone has achieved this so perfectly before now, apart from maybe Jean Cocteau. It's safe to say that the whole really is greater than the some of its parts with this one and although it's not my favorite Anderson film, I think it might me his greatest achievement so far.

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