My weekly movie reviews. You can also read these on letterboxd.
This week focuses on three Joe Pesci films I hadn’t seen before.
DEAR MR. WONDERFUL (1982)
Rating: 3.5 out of 5 Stars
Imagine a lost Scorsese film from the early 80s, influenced by his Neo Realist heroes and starring a bunch of his regulars (Joe, Frank Vincent, Paul Herman) and you have DEAR MR. WONDERFUL.
It’s a slice of life story with a sincere, refreshingly quiet Pesci performance. It gives the actor, one of our best, a chance to show a completely different side of his craft. The support around him, especially Herman, are great too in a movie that probably wasn’t flashy enough to make a splash in America and certainly isn’t stylish enough to attract the attention of modern audiences.
But as a foreign film made in America, DEAR MR. WONDERFUL is a poignant tale of a man trying to find his way.
Watched on rarefilmm.com
WITH HONORS (1994)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
It’s hard to believe that after shooting most of Ingmar Bergman’s masterpieces, Sven Nykvist could lens something like this. Most of the film looks and feels like a theatrically-released sitcom…
It did not dislike With Honors completely, hence my middle of the road rating. However, it’s an incredibly disappointing movie to watch because the script and cast assembled clearly had so much more potential. Imagine this film in the hands of Gus Van Sant, who just a few years later would make an overrated but much better executed film with some of the same themes in Good Will Hunting. I fear the biggest problem with With Honors is the executor, Alek Keshishian. Perhaps his skills were more suited for music videos and documentaries (his Madonna one is quite good) because here he’s unable to carry the comedy or bring home the drama.
I didn’t laugh once and barely chuckled. Ultimately, the movie forces its funniness when it should have leaned into its more dramatic aspects and let the comedy flow naturally. For a film that is as flawed as this one, I must admit at how surprised I was to be moved to tears by the end. That only further proves the untapped potential of the material. This could have been a great movie. Sadly, it is just watchable.
THE SUPER (1991)
Rating: 3 out of 5 Stars
This mostly forgotten 90s “comedy” had a lot of potential. It could have been DO THE RIGHT THING meets Frank Capra, taking its urban setting and firecracker leading man to create a sharp, biting but moving story about greed and poverty.
Instead, THE SUPER wastes most of its team on mean-spirited humor that mostly doesn’t play. The film really doesn’t have much of a final act, dragging its first two all the way to the last ten minutes before showing much of a change in Pesci’s character. The actor is good as always but under served by the script and direction. They play to his antics instead of her versatility as a performer, like the worst Nicolas Cage movies that capitalize only on his crazy.
Sadly, there’s good reason that THE SUPER is mostly forgotten. It could have been much more.
Watched on Tubi.