A thriller about a couple traveling by train from Beijing to Moscow, with deception and murder awaiting. It succeeds at making you bite your nails at the edge of your seat, but its wonderfully directed suspense scenes can't mask or overshadow the movie's flaws. The film keeps unraveling more unnecessary complexities even after it has made its point, with seemingly unintentional slapstick during the climax. The plot is a bit smeared all over the place, making it a film with mood swings; not to mention the characters, who all become more and more unlikable as the film progresses. A+ art direction by Algis Garbaciauskas and Ben Kingsley is good as always.
Friday, April 23, 2010
A simple film about a successful car salesman (Winstone) and his friends (Hurt, McShane, Wilkinson and Dillane) kidnapping his wife's lover (Poupaud) in an attempt to teach the lover a lesson, get revenge on the cheating wife (Whalley) and to repair the broken-hearted husband's shattered ego. Driven by strong dialogue and momentous presence from all six characters. But the wonderful mood of intensity doesn't really seem to move forward, it just kind of lingers. Emotional outbursts and other theatrical expressions are convincing, being that they're delivered from a talented ensemble cast, but it becomes a bit redundant when it happens more than once and takes the story nowhere. If you want a similarly strong cast in the same type of movie, but executed more successfully, try Sexy Beast.
Sunday, April 18, 2010
American remake of the successful "Internal Affairs" trilogy, about two men seeking out each other's identity; one is a cop that goes undercover as a mobster, the other, a mobster that goes undercover as a cop. Dream-boats Damon and DiCaprio do a good job vanishing into their roles as tough guys, but their charm and ruthlessness still can't mask the crime-thriller clichés; and the ultra-climatic conclusion is just really nothing more than simply over-the-top. The wittiness of Jack Nicholson doesn't impress since he doesn't seem to do much acting, but rather just charismatically act like Jack. The quirky dialogue of Irish-American mobsters comes off as corny and tiring. Martin Sheen and Mark Wahlberg are memorable and well-delivered in the humorous good-cop-bad-cop odd-couple, with the latter earning a Best Supporting Actor nomination. It was the only nomination that was well-deserve, the only nomination that didn't win and the only nomination that should have won. Won Best Picture, Editing and Adapted Screenplay. It should be called "The Retarded".
Saturday, April 17, 2010
Set in 1960s London, Jenny (Mulligan) is a sixteen-year-old studying hard to attend Oxford; but is befriended by a charming man nearly twice her age, who shows another side of life that makes Jenny reconsider her goals. There's a bit of unintentional creepiness and humorous awkwardness in Sarsgaard's character, and the film finds itself getting redundant as Jenny seems to linger in her new lifestyle. But all the supporting characters are likable and three dimensional--despite any personality flaws--and the cast is strong enough to haul a dragging story to its conclusion. Certainly one worth judging for yourself.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
Weird and uneven film about a mysterious wooden box with a big red button that appears on a family's doorstep. If they press the button they become millionaires, but the catch is someone in the world will die. Unlikable characters and the eeriness mood doesn't come off as creepy, but rather just goofy. It appears director Richard Kelly tries to compete with the successful cult-status of "Donnie Darko", but the parallels don't work in any way for this hopeless film. Members of the wonderful Canadian band Arcade Fire compose an even stranger and offsetting score to accompany the film, but it doesn't fit. Nothing works for this film. The inclusion of Derek & the Dominoes' "Bell Bottom Blues" and Grateful Dead's "Scarlet Begonias" can't even help lift this outing from the bottom of the barrel. Perhaps the producers should have pressed the button on this film and took their millions elsewhere. Based on the 1970 short story "Button, Button" by Richard Matheson.
Wednesday, April 7, 2010
Eliot Ness (Costner) sets out to take down Al Capone (De Niro), with some of Capone's mobsters verses Ness's hand-picked team… The Untouchables (Smith, Garcia and Connery). Historically inaccurate. Costner's voice is emotionless as usual, while Connery's is like he's still playing James Bond; both of their voices are annoying and distracting. De Palma's "dazzling" direction, ceiling shots for example, are unnecessary; as if De Palma is more concerned about impressing the Academy than telling the story. Smith and Garcia do their job, but nothing fancy. De Niro delivers a surprising unmemorable performance as the notorious Capone. The film itself is overly-theatrical for what it is, what it needs to be and what it should be. But despite all these flaws, none of them are fatal. Fast-paced from beginning to end, every moment enjoyable. From the first line of "…why, since it would seem that you are in effect the Mayor of Chicago, you're not simply being appointed to that position," to the final line of "I think I'll have a drink", it's a remarkable and unforgettable film with several great scenes. The chemistry with all The Untouchable is… well… untouchable.
Fletcher Reede (Carrey) is a fast track lawyer who continuously turns down his son Max (Cooper). When Fletcher stands Max up at his birthday party, Max makes a birthday wish that just for one day his father can't tell a lie. Carrey goes the extra mile, with his witty courtroom remarks and Looney Tunes body language; his performance is consistent, and it doesn't ware thin. Cooper falls into the category of the "Annoying Hollywood child actor". The movie doesn't go without other flaws, but the climax and the conclusion are by far the worst--they're over-the-top and unrealistic, even for THIS! Cary Elwes does a fantastic job in a supporting role as Fletcher's ex-wife's (Tierney) new goober love-interest.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Based on the Danish film "Brødre" and inspired by Homer's "The Odyssey", about two tough brothers on opposite ends of the spectrum. One, an honorable marine. The other, an ex-con. As Tommy (Gyllenhaal) is released from prison, his older brother Sam (Mcguire) prepares for a tour in Afghanistan. After a helicopter crash, Sam is presumed dead, and Tommy tries to better himself by watching over his brother's wife and two girls. However, Sam survives, and after making a life-altering narrow escape from imprisonment, he is sent back home. But Sam suspects his brother of something more than just watching over his family. Wonderfully structured, similarly to "The Deer Hunter", and the relationships with all seven of the family members is flawlessly orchestrated. Mcguire especially demonstrates himself as an actor with many faces. Sad, but also inspiring.