Archive for September, 2007

“The Kingdom”, an even split

September 29, 2007

the kingdom

With Michael Mann producing and Peter Berg directing my expectations were high for “The Kingdom” a polite bit of new world fantasy that follows four FBI agents into the toughest areas of Saudi Arabia to find the terrorist that has attacked an oil compound housing hundreds of American workers and their families. It isn’t the initial attack that brutalizes you but the self seriousness this action film takes in it’s enjoyable but awkward groping around to find relevance in entertainment. It partially succeeds.

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“Into the Wild”, the final beautiful journey

September 27, 2007

into the wild

As the movie began, three or four images in, the person behind me whispered to his friend, “I hate it already”. I threw the most annoyed glance behind me that I’ve thrown to anyone I can remember. Certainly Sean Penn comes off a bit self-important at times, but he ‘s smart enough to know when to step back and stay behind the camera. And that self-important seriousness is perfectly fitting in this film, a film about a young wanderer who when fed up with society treks to Alaska to live off the wild.

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“Across the Universe”, Spans and Spins on a the Best Known Generation

September 27, 2007

across the universeWe’ve seen it all before in the movies and various forms of entertainment: Vietnam, the assassination of Martin Luther King, the riots, the speeches, the love story. It has been common territory for entertainment. Part of the reason is that it was one of the biggest eras of political mistake making so its the easiest go to when making a point about our current political culture, but it was also one of the biggest artistic renovation periods of American History. This era and the jazz/blues era I would put at the forefront. Also making it an easy choice for creative stomping grounds. We’ve also seen in movies about this era those scenes when the songs beat over the various films images with the meaning they were created to have. But I’ve never seen it done with so much excessive creativity and literalness as I have in Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe”, and that’s the biggest compliment I could pay any movie this year, because with a sharp hand she makes it work, almost all the time anyway.

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“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy

September 21, 2007

the roadI had heard his name before…Cormac McCarthy. “Oh, yes”, I thought, “that Matt Damon horse movie that was all but forgotten at the box office.” But the description in the best of 2006 section of Entertainment Weekly caught my eye, and it was their “number one pick of the year!” I was enthralled by the idea of a post apocalyptic world in which a father transports his son by foot across the barren country side, it reminded me of that Japanese film series “Lone Wolf and Cub” and of something I was going to undertake writing at one point. As I was waiting for “The Road” to come to me in the mail, I found out that it had been added to Oprah’s Book Club. I cringed! Then reminded myself I was interested in it long before she got her grubby hands all over it. And grubby the book can become as well, with a single unwashed touch it’s reflective black surface can easily be tarnished until you’re looking at a shadowy disfigured reflection of yourself, completely unrecognizable. (more…)

“Eastern Promises”: Cronenberg steps it down a notch

September 21, 2007

eastern p

David Cronenberg has never been afraid to show his audience the worst of things in his films and in his newest human drama “Eastern Promises” (which the studios have chosen to call a “thriller”, huh?) he delivers again. We not only get to see a throat cut, but literally sawed into, by the nervous hands of a first time killer. It’s horrific to watch, yet you can’t turn away. And this murder sets into motion a storyline that parallels and eventually ties together with a midwife whose left with an unnamed baby and diary in Russian when the Mother dies during child birth. Taking care of the child is Anna, played almost to perfect normalness by Naomi Watts. The only reason why we don’t quite buy her as being so normal is because we already know she’s such an incredible actress and here she just feels like Naomi Watts, but at least she’s not gushing tears. She sets out to translate the diary in hopes to find out who the remaining family is, which brings her into the world of the Russian Mafia…in London. Too close in fact. What the Russian mafia has to do with the baby, I’ll leave it for you to watch the film, but three of those Russians are played by Armen Mueller-Stahl as the patriarch who has the job of holding the emotional weight of the first half of the film together with his eyes alone. His character has become so comfortable with his cruelty, he doesn’t realize it and therefore has no reason to hide his true intentions along with the smile of kindness he gives to Anna. He’s all evil. Then Vincent Casselle who no holds barred plays the insecure loose canon, morally unaware son of Stahl and the driver he seems to have a man-crush on played with calm confidence by Viggo Mortenson. Mortenson is one of those fine actors that can say more with his body language than most can with their dialogue. Unfortunately, while these characters do become interesting after a time, the story itself took awhile to grab my attention. (more…)

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opening and Trailer

September 21, 2007

Finally,

“A Midsummer Night’s Dream” opens. Here’s a commercial spot I put together for promotional purposes. Don’t worry, I don’t give anything away…

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