Sunday, March 22, 2009

fool me once....

while superstars clive owen and julia roberts prove capable sparring partners in central dance of lust and mistrust, pic is all about setup. and writer/director tony gilroy (michael clayton) knows a thing or three about Smart dramatic tension. wordless slo-mo clash of titans paul giamatti and tom wilkinson serves as perfect prologue--epic feel, hilarious, brilliant. script continues cracking along briskly, cleverly flashing back & forth to reveal depth of complex cons and twists, well played. lets itself down mightily in endgame, however, when all comes revealed a la perry mason mysteries: smug victors gather around to retrace their steps of genius for apparently less intelligent audience. plus, all that fancy footwork and our heroes come up short? where's the payoff for Us?
setup: B

Sunday, March 15, 2009

nightmare reality show

an in-depth, from all angles look at one of contemporary italy's most dangerous mafia families. based on novel that apparently hit so close to home, author and contributors were/are targeted with death threats. pic boasts documentary-style immediacy. cast comprised of primarily non-professional actors, locals hired for authenticity. end credits even feature statistics decrying camorra crime clan's most vile perpetrations, ranging from environmental pollution to mass murder. winner of cannes 2008 grand prize of the festival and nominated for 2009 golden globe for best foreign language film.
immediacy: B+

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

who's watching...?

first, if you're upset pic is not enough like the source material, quit your bitching. author alan moore refused to attach his own name to film, suggesting no movie version could do justice to his work! was that not enough of a clue for you? if you're such a rabid fan, you shouldn't have even Gone (the more contemptible complaint), and thus have only yourself to blame whichever way you whine. besides, truth be told, Only film to cling tighter to graphic novel roots was sin city--nothing to be righteous about.
brightest aspect of 150 min. geekapalooza is director zack snyder's already evident (too early to call Signature?) visual style. he also definitely knows comics, reveres his players and shows them off well, delivers kick-ass seamless sfx, and won't skimp on graphic sex & violence. heck, he frames fights and fornicating Brilliantly. political themes certainly are outdated, and many characters standard comic fare, so although moore's warning may appear prescient, don't shoot the director.
geekapalooza: B

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

anybody order the underwhelm?

the international--
feels, in every way, like your average james bond film. haven't seen naomi watts in such a thankless role in years, certainly not since she became a star. clive owen does what we'll call the heavy lifting, yet in such thriller-by-numbers material, it's very often the bad guys (read: character actors) who stand out. here it's broadway star brian f. o'bryne who comes off looking like a (most unassuming) badass. director tom (run, lola, run) tykwer's one slick shoot-em-up not enough to lift pic out of big budget mediocrity. he could use some help staging intimate talking (non-action) scenes. we're set up to be frightened by premise--who controls the Debt is in control; i.e., omnipotent financial power structure--yet resolution sure proves awfully simplistic.
bond: C+

crossing over
oo, this one had me cringing from the get-go. writer/director wayne kramer somehow assembled a generous cast of A-list actors--harrison ford, ashley judd, ray liotta--to have a go at his passion project. no amount of star power, however, can rescue pic from such stock direction and rubbish diaolgue. when these venerable thesps are not looking wooden, they're certainly sounding ridiculous. ambitious? sure; connect-the-dots stylings of Crash. comparisons end there.
rubbish: D