Denzel Washington’s Latest 10 Movies vs. Greatest 10 Movies

Denzel WashingtonLatest vs. Greatest is a relatively new feature here at Killing Time.  We’re going to look at directors, actors and actresses and assess the state of their career as it stands.  We’ll look back at the last 10 movies the artist has done, give it a grade and then average them out to see where they stand today.  We’ll also rank their 10 best movies and give it the same treatment to see what they have been doing compares to their very best work.  (A quick side-note: if an artist is also a regular on a TV show we’ll grade the seasons as individuals and, clearly, artists need 10 projects to qualify).

Denzel Washington’s projects over the last few years have either been amazing exhibitions of his prowess (Flight) or safe, easy-going action films where Denzel is essentially playing the Denzel that Jay Pharaoh mocks so eerily on Saturday Night Live (2 Guns, Safe House, etc.).

Washington CAN do anything.  For a long time he pigeon-holed himself as a hero, but he bucked that with Training Day (which I don’t particularly even think is a good movie) and got the leading man Oscar he’s deserved on several occasions.  His big break, like George Clooney who we looked at last week, came playing a doctor in a hospital drama.  Washington moved from his role on St. Elsewhere into features and quickly became one of the most popular and charismatic actors in Hollywood.

flight-denzel-washingtonWashington’s dramatic range has no parallel.  The gamut of emotions and places he can take himself in a role is as wide as any actor ever.  He’s a gifted comic actor with excellent timing to pair with a natural likability, but he’s never really had a comedic role that matches the prestige worthy of him.  I’d love to see him do a smart comedy.  He can make buddy action movies and cash $30 million checks until he’s 65, but I’ve seen enough of those from him.  They feel a little lazy compared to what we know he can do.  Let’s look at his last 10 films:

WASHINGTON’S LATEST TEN:
1. 2 Guns (2013) ………………………………………………………………… 5.00
2. Flight (2012) ………………………………………………………………….. 9.25
3. Safe House (2012) ………………………………………………………….. 6.75
4. Unstoppable (2010) ……………………………………………………….. 8.00
5. The Book of Eli (2010) ……………………………………………………. 4.50
6. The Taking of Pelham 1,2,3 (2009)……………………………………. 4.75
7. The Great Debaters (2007) ………………………………………………. 8.50
8. American Gangster (2007) ……………………………………………….. 7.00
9. Deja Vu (2006) ……………………………………………………………….. 6.50
10. Inside Man (2006) …………………………………………………………. 9.50
DENZEL WASHINGTON’S CURRENT WORKING AVERAGE: 6.975

Not too bad.  For as many duds as he’s had, he’s had two legitimately great movies and some very good ones.  But, honestly, Denzel’s better than a hair shy of a 7!  I honestly don’t know why, I suppose it’s because he won his Oscar with him, but Washington continues to make films with Antoine Fuqua, who has never impressed me.  I thought Safe House was dumb fun (I even own it), but he’s not a director that stretches Washington at all.  I mention this because the next time you’ll see Denzel onscreen is in 2014’s The Equalizer with Melissa Leo and Chloe Moretz Grace and it’s another Fuqua….Fuqua.  He’re’s the best of what Denzel has done:

WASHINGTON’S GREATEST TEN:
Glory (1989) ………………………………………………………………………10.00
Courage Under Fire (1996) …………………………………………………….9.75
Inside Man (2006) ………………………………………………………………..9.50
Flight (2012) ………………………………………………………………………..9.25
The Hurricane (1999) ……………………………………………………………9.00
Crimson Tide (1995) ……………………………………………………………..9.00
Remember the Titans (2000) ………………………………………………….9.00
Philadelphia (1993) ……………………………………………………………….8.50
The Preacher’s Wife (1996) …………………………………………………….8.50
The Great Debaters (2007) ……………………………………………………..8.50
DENZEL WASHINGTON’S CURRENT GREATEST AVERAGE: 9.125

Clooney had 9.425 last week and in a much shorter career on the big screen, though Washington is, in my opinion, by far the better actor.  The problem often is that Denzel is excellent in films that, overall, aren’t.  American Gangster is a perfect example.  Washington is outstanding and incendiary, but the movie is extremely flawed.  Training Day, same story, but even more so.  Washington doesn’t work as often as most leading men and when he chooses his projects, there’s a frustrating lack of logic, but when the right role meets his limitless talent….magic.
Denzel Washington

Breast Cancer Awareness Month

In support of victims of breast cancer and those struggling valiantly with this plague, Killing Time will be going pink (which is a hideous look for us, but we’re a fan of women, gutsy women fighting for their lives and just generally ta-tas).  Go support the American Cancer Society at www.cancer.org.  Live in hope of a cure.

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Movie Review: Captain Phillips (2013)

Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks

I was fortunate enough yesterday to be able to screen Tom Hanks‘ Captain Phillips.  Directed by Paul Greengrass (United 93), Captain Phillips tells the story of the 2009 Maersk Alabama hijacking, in which a cargo vessel was taken by Somali pirates. It was the first act of piracy against a ship flying an American flag since the 18th Century.  Hanks plays the Alabama‘s captain, who was taken hostage by the pirates in the Alabama’s lifeboat leading to a confrontation with US Navy Special Forces.

The screening I attended was extremely special, and I was honored to be a guest, because it was a private screening for the employees of Maersk who work at their US headquarters (Maersk is a Danish-owned company) many of whom know the crew of the Alabama and were working during the 2009 crisis.  I almost wanted to watch the crowd as much as I did the movie.  What a surreal thing to have happen in the first place, and then to be watching a movie about your work; your colleagues.  Going into the screening, I can tell you a lot of them were skeptical about the “Hollywoodization” of the hijacking

Captain Phillips focuses, with the exception of an extremely brief introductory period that shows Phillips preparing at home in Vermont and the hijackers jockeying for position on the attack boats in Somalia, on the event itself.  Paul Greengrass is known for taking a single camera, documentary-style approach to his films be they fictional (Bourne Supremacy) or based on events (United 93).  Greengrass is an outstanding director, keeping the pacing of the film kinetic.  The Somali hijackers are not presented as cookie cutter villains, but they are also not romanticized or sympathetic (which-given the room I was in-I was glad they didn’t try).

The pirates demonstrated (both in the movie and by all accounts I’ve read) a complete misapprehension and dimwitted thuggishness in response to the ability of the Alabama’s crew to frustrate their early attempts to board and to trick and mislead them through the ship they knew so well while maintaining order on a ship armed with nothing more than fire hoses and a few flares.   As the situation escalates to the pirates holding Phillips hostage in a tiny life boat, the claustrophobic atmosphere kindles their increasingly frantic realization of the amount of force that had been brought to bear against them.  It’s one thing to demand tens of millions when you’re holding a gun on unarmed men; the same demand starts to ring a bit hollow when several ships worth of exceedingly armed men are listening to that same demand.

Tom Hanks, Captain Phillips

Greengrass chooses an almost sterile approach to chronicling the stand-off.  There’s no thumping, adrenaline pumping score.  No flashy shots or dialogue clearly manufactured by a screenwriter.  His approach to film in these events as he has said in multiple interviews and as the Maersk rep remarked to the audience before the film, is not journalism.  He wants to convey to the audience the tone, the feelings and the atmosphere of the event, but he’s still making a movie.  This is admirable and when the perfect balance is struck (United 93) it can be devastatingly effective.  He has, though, become increasingly distant in his direction leading to efforts (Green Zone) that feel more like a toneless documentary than a movie.  He was flirting with that line again with Captain Phillips and what pulls the movie along and keeps Greengrass from sabotaging his own efforts is Tom Hanks.

Tom Hanks has frustrated the living daylights out of me for nearly a decade in his choice of projects.  For every Charlie Wilson’s War, there’s Larry Crowne and the Robert Langdon  gobbledygook.  Then last year’s Cloud Atlas, which we’d need a separate post to contain my rant, pretty much had me given up on him altogether.  He is, in my mind, the most talented actor and the most versatile actor of his generation.  This used to show up in his film choices, resulting in some of the best performances I’ve ever seen.  Which Tom Hanks was in Captain Phillips?  I am relieved to say, the real Tom Hanks showed up for work and turned in a riveting and nuanced performance as Phillips.  His professionalism, control and insight on the Alabama probably saved this lives of his crew (not to diminish any of their efforts as well).  The struggle with the pirates in the lifeboat both mental and physical is portrayed with a level of masterful craft so that when the situation ends and Phillips finally releases that control; the emotion pouring forth is so genuine and so moving…it’s a scene to put in his portfolio with the best of his career.

The movie was not quite the home run I wanted and for that I blame Greengrass for erring too far on the side of the documentarian, however it is an outstanding film with a fantastic performance from Hanks that is not to be missed.  As far as the reaction from the screening, I heard nothing but praise from the Maersk employees.  Even those who had worked the crisis four years ago were struck by aspects of the experience that had never occurred to them, which is probably the ultimate compliment Greengrass would wish to receive.  Captain Phillips opens nationwide, this Friday, October 11th.
8.75/10
Captain Phillips, Tom Hanks, Paul Greengrass

Thor The Dark World Volstagg and Fandral One-Sheets

Thor, Thor The Dark World, Thor 2, Ray Stevenson, Volstagg
Thor, Thor 2, Thor the Dark World, Fandral, Zachary Levi

Two-third of The Warriors Three (poor Hogun…poor, poor Hogun) get their own one-sheet posters for Thor the Dark World.  Ray Stevenson returns to play Volstagg (and perhaps with more time removed, I will not think of him as “the Janitor from Scrubs with an axe).  Zachary Levi is replacing Josh Dallas as the sworsdman Fandral for the sequel.  Dallas plays Prince Charming on ABC’s Once Upon a Time and was unable to make his shooting schedule work around the production’s needs.  Thor the Dark World opens in IMAX theaters on October 30th and then from Midgard to Asgard on November 8th.

 

Bioshock Infinite Burial At Sea Part One Achievement List

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I can’t wait to get back into this world.  It feels like forever ago I finished the main campaign and the time and care they’ve put into this DLC added to the setting of Raputre, well, that’s what a season pass is for.  This list has mild spoilers so shun if you’re a purist.  Irrational Games and Ken Levine have promised to have Burial At Sea Pt. 1 out by the holidays.  Achievement scoop courtesy of XBOX 360 Achievements.

There are ten new achievements worth 250 Gamerscore. You can check out the list below, but be wary of MINOR STORY SPOILERS:

  • Down in the Briney: 25G – Took a Bathysphere ride in Burial at Sea – Episode One.
  • Burial at Sea: 50G – Completed Burial at Sea – Episode One.
  • Audio Enthusiast: 50G  Collected all Audio Diaries in Burial at Sea – Episode One.
  • Fully Equipped: 10G  Purchased any two upgrades for Old Man Winter or Radar Range in Burial at Sea – Episode One.
  • Confirmed Luddite: 10G  Destroyed ten Turrets in Burial at Sea – Episode One.
  • Cook and Serve: 10G – Made 5 enemies explode with the Radar Range in Burial at Sea – Episode One.
  • Chain Reaction: 50G  Damaged fifteen foes with an exploding enemy, using the Radar Range in Burial at Sea – Episode One.
  • Break the Ice: 10G – Shattered 5 enemies who had been frozen with Old Man Winter.
  • Snowball Effect: 10G Froze 2 enemies with the same Old Man Winter trap.
  • Going Places: 25G – Rode the tram in Burial at Sea – Episode One.

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