I was at a loss as to what exactly I should review this week. You Were Never Really Here was a film I was extremely excited for. From the trailers it seemed like Drive, but instead what I got was Only God Forgives, a film that has its supporters but I’m sure as hell not one of them. In fact I down right hate that movie. The main reason being he took a pretty good script, his script and cut all the dialogue, plot, backstory and replaced it with arty farty long static shots of hallways. Another thing that film has in common with You Were Never Really Here.
The other film I watched was HBO’s Paterno, starring Al Pacino. The problem with that film however was that I know nothing about sports or the man himself.
Really I wasn’t sure which to choose. So I figured how about I try to review both films at the same time!
Two for the price of one!
You Were Never Really Here stars Joaquin Phoenix as Joe, a… I’m not exactly sure what he does. Contract killer… no, more like if someone gets kidnapped he is paid to come in and rescue them… a one man extraction team… who is armed with only a hammer. Why a hammer? What I got through hazy flashbacks is his dad would beat him with one as a kid… maybe. It’s unclear. First thing you got to understand about this film is it is pretty incoherent.
Paterno is treated like a holy figure. He turned this podunk town college into this academic state college, all thanks to their Penn State football team. Even at 84 this senile old man was still their head coach because there was this almost cult mentality about him.
And that brings me to a very important topic that we must discuss. It’s best to get it out of the way first before we continue. We seriously need to talk about how fat Greg Grunberg has gotten. He has got to be at least 400 pounds now, maybe more. Last time I saw him he looked like he slimmed down a bit. But now… holy crap.
I’m hoping he did it for the role, he’s playing one of Paterno’s sons, the only one trying to get across to everyone in the room just how dire this whole situation really is. That being not his weight but the fact Paterno’s longtime assistant coach had been molesting underage boys for years.
Joaquin Phoenix’s character Joe, not Joe Paterno, which could get confusing as we go on, has just finished a job where… he might have killed someone. You see him cleaning up after a job. One of those things being a bloody hammer. But if you go around swinging a hammer at people, it is safe to assume you’ll get blood on it, so killing might be a bit of a stretch.
There seems to be a pattern. He gets the kidnapped person, takes them to a hotel to await their safe pickup. After they are gone he cleans up, removing any evidence of them being there, destroying his burner cell.
After the job is done, he goes to his middleman to pick up his cash. However the middleman’s kid just happens to be across the way from where Joe lives, spotting him.
Joe lives with his mom, whose dementia has started to kick in. But it can’t be too bad since he leaves her alone for who knows how long to do these jobs.
Joe’s broker, the man who sets up these dangerous jobs is McCleary, played by John Doman, who recently did a stint on Gotham as gangster Carmine Falcone.
Paterno really couldn’t care less about this current scandal. He’d much rather focus on the next upcoming game instead of worrying about how Sandusky’s impending arrest will affect him. It isn’t like he was molesting boys for 40 plus years under his nose or anything… oh wait, he was doing that.
This film reminded me a lot of Spotlight, the Michael Keaton movie about a newspaper covering the Catholic Church and them covering up their priests molesting little boys.
Both films deal with this cult mentality, Paterno being the Pope. You see the same thing happening with Trump and his brainless supporters. But people love them some sports. I personally never got it. My dad tried for years to get me into anything sports-like and the only thing that almost took was hockey. But that mainly had to do with the film The Mighty Ducks. The only problem being I didn’t know how to skate, so street hockey was about the extent of my sports career. And that only lasted until The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came out with another movie. Then it was martial arts class for me. But that didn’t last long either since I didn’t even know how to tie my belt properly. But I did learn how to karate punch.
I had never heard of Paterno before this whole scandal broke. And no way did I know who the hell Jerry Sandusky was. Ironically, I don’t think anyone did.
While trying to tell Joe about this recent assignment, he is too distracted by a jellybean, so the details are a bit hazy. Hazy is a good word to describe this movie. It’s very hazy in its story telling, its characters, its dialogue…
Joe is hired by a senator whose teenage daughter has been running away since her mom’s suicide. She’s been taken to a brothel dealing in underage prostitutes.
Joe’s job is to get her out safely and make the people holding her pay violently.
Unfortunately, we never really see any of that violence since whenever it comes to hammer time, they cut away to the aftermath. So don’t expect this to be an action film like the trailer suggests.
Sandusky loved him some little boys. So much so he started his own youth outreach center. That place I’m guessing was where he found most of his victims. He was caught not once but twice taking a shower with them and the only thing the cops did was warn him not to do it again. Which he replied with I can’t promise that or something along the lines.
It isn’t like the school was oblivious to this either as he was caught by one of the team assistants or whatever his job was. They went to Paterno about this and he passed it off to the higher ups. One of which ended up going to prison. They all became complicate once they chose to ignore the problem. They either ignored it or they didn’t want to know. All in the name of football. I guess it was more than just football. It was the school’s reputation not to mention peoples’ careers. Still, whatever your reasons you’re covering up for a pedophile.
You Were Never Really Here was directed by Lynne Ramsay who hasn’t really done much of anything aside from We Need to Talk About Kevin. What is with her and long name titles? Is she trying to spell something out but we’re only two sentences in? It’s like that Fiona Apple album that has a paragraph long title.
We Need to Talk About Kevin was a film I enjoyed except for one glaring issue. The choice to score it with completely contrasting twangy country music. Why? I have no idea. The music for You Were Never Really Here also sucks, so it seems to be a pattern with her.
I can almost sort of understand peoples outrage over blaming Paterno. I was pissed when the hashtag movement went after Max Landis and Tarantino. For Tarantino he didn’t do anything. The incidents with Uma Thurman where all pretty understandable. The car accident wasn’t a stunt scene, it was a driving scene. His comments about Roman Polanski was him basically playing devil’s advocate. Not to mention Polanski has just received a lifetime achievement award by the Oscars I believe at the time so they can’t feign outrage now that it’s popular to be woke.
As for Max Landis, some person who doesn’t like him to begin with hears a rumor from another person who doesn’t like him and uses it to attack him and his career. Trial by twitter. The only thing that will most likely come out of this hashtag movement is producers not wanting to hire women. They’ll become too much of a liability to deal with. Or they’ll just hire only women and we’ll get complete boring garbage like the second season of Jessica Jones. Kidding! Well, mostly, the second season was garbage, I don’t know how much of that was the result of only women directing. But a woman did do You Were Never Really Here, so…
It’s like polio. Years they could never figure out what was the cause. It seemed to happen only to kids and during the summer so the obvious conclusion was it was the ice cream! It wasn’t the ice cream. It was actually the public swimming pools. Hey, I wonder if that’s why we yell out Marco Polo in the pool? Marco! Polio!
Joe goes to the address given to him by the senator, who is running with the state’s governor.
He breaks his way in, not really freeing any of the other girls I don’t think. He bludgeons the guards and johns with his hammer, tossing Nina, the kidnapped senator’s daughter, over his shoulder and takes her to a nearby hotel.
While waiting at the hotel, they see on the news that her father the senator has leaped from a building, killing himself. And instead of his men coming to pick the girl up, some dirty cops show up, taking the girl and attacking Joe. Who Joe manages to kill.
When Joe goes looking for McCleary, his boss, he finds him dead in his office with signs of torture.
Joe rushes back home after noticing that McCleary gave them Angel’s number, Joe’s go between who he had to burn because his kid found out where he lived.
Now the bad guys know as well.
What was I talking about again with Paterno before I got distracted? That’s right, showering with little boys.
Apparently Paterno knew Sandusky had been doing this since the 1970’s. How many naked shower hugs does one need to give to get fired at Penn State?
No one thought this was weird how he’d spend all his time with little kids? Even taking them down into his basement. When has anything good ever happened in someone’s basement?
All of this is found out when local paper news reporter Sara Ganim broke the story, interviewing one of Sandusky’s victims who is now 16. The story fails to make much of a splash at first until the prosecutor gets involved, bringing charges to Sandusky and to a few of the school’s higher ups that had knowledge of what was going on but covered it up.
When Joe gets home he finds his mom has been killed and the killers are in the kitchen waiting for him to return. Armed with a gun instead of a stupid hammer for once, Joe takes the two killers out, leaving one mortally wounded.
They aren’t dressed like a bunch of thugs but secret service agents. Joe decides to hang out on the floor a bit with the guy he shot and holds his hand as he dies. We focus on that for a good solid 5 minutes. So that’s fun.
Eventually he talks, telling him that the governor has Nina because she was his favorite at the brothel. He was the one that tipped them off to where she was so they’d get her out and he could have her all to himself.
As all of this is happening with diddles McGee, Paterno just wants to go about his business, getting the team ready for their next game. It takes cancelling their next news conference that it finally hits him that maybe he needs to get ahead of this.
He gets Bill Clinton’s PR guy Dan McGinn who advises Paterno that he needs to retire, salvage what is left of his career and legacy. Eventually he takes the advice and announces his retirement. That isn’t good enough for the school heads so they fire him immediately over the phone which they had to first send over by messenger.
News of his immediate firing causes a riot among the students.
Joe gives his mom a burial at sea, vowing to find Nina.
He goes to the governor’s house where he finds that Nina has already killed him by slitting his throat.
Now the two run off together and that’s the end. It’s pretty clear Joe is psychotic that needs to take his crazy pills but hasn’t. So what we see at the end is very ambiguous. While at a diner, Joe shoots himself in the head over some milkshakes but it was all in his imagination. Which makes you wonder how much of this was just in his head.
That little part where the dying man whispers to us what is going on, if you missed what he was saying, you’ll be completely lost as to what the hell is actually going on. There’s very little dialogue in this. Altogether, I’d say there’s about two pages worth of dialogue in this entire film. I really don’t see how this script was over a hundred pages. There’s barely any story and the dialogue is nonexistent. I’m not even sure how this got to be over an hour. There’s really nothing to this film, SKIP IT.
Soon after the controversy, Paterno dies of cancer. It took him fast, a few weeks after he was diagnosed I believe. At least three people went to prison over this. Later even Sandusky’s adopted son went to prison for his own misdealing’s with underage kids.
I wasn’t a fan of football and I’m sure as hell not a fan now after watching this. Another thing it has in common with the Catholic Church.
If you have HBO and you are familiar with the story, maybe check this one out. Al Pacino will most likely get nominated for an Emmy for his performance.
This was directed by Barry Levinson, who has had a long career doing movies I’ve enjoyed. One of which being Toys with Robin Williams. He also did The Natural, my dad’s favorite movie.
I’m actually kind of okay with sports movies. Only in a movie can they make baseball seem exciting or interesting. But I give this film a SEE IT rating. The film will either leave you creeped out or upset, hopefully not turned on.
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