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RecommendCurrentfilms or DVDs

Page history last edited by PBworks 11 years, 8 months ago

Recommend current films or DVD's

 

http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/10009192-21/ A movie worth seeing this weekend, or maybe when it comes out on DVD is "21." I went and checked this movie out last weekend with my girlfriend and her family. The movie explores the world of professional gambling as 5 students from MIT head out to Las Vegas with a math professor to make it big at the blackjack table. This is a pretty interesting movie that explores the mathematics behind blackjack (known as the only game a patron has a fair shot at winning at) and how the game can be manipulated through logic and strategy. With the exception of Kevin Spacey this movie has a couple other upcoming actors. First we have Jim Sturgess who plays the lead role. I believe this is Sturgess' film debut does a decent job of keeping our attention and making us believe he's actually gambling. Another upcoming actress in this movie is the LOVELY Kate Bosworth who has starred in other movies such as "Blue Crush" and the "Horse Whisperer." If nothing else comes out of this movie, Bosworth is still hot.

 

Not bad for a gambling movie. If you liked "Rounders" you'll like "21." 3.5 Stars/5 Stars

 

There Will Be Blood is deserving of all the hype. This film is based on an Upton Sinclair novel (Oil!) and oil is all over the place. Oil, oil, oil, oil! Daniel Day-Lewis shows other actors how it's done, and I thought Paul Dano (from Little Miss Sunshine!) deserved a best supporting actor nomination for his portrayal of Eli. Great epic movie...a must-see.

 

American Gangster is a solid gangster film about an actual person who built up a drug empire in New York in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Denzel Washington is strong as the gangster who, consistent with The Godfather, values family ties and celebrations, but who overreaches in his lust for power and control. Russell Crowe plays the clean federal drug detective who seeks to bring down the gangster. It's the two of them who really make this film work.

 

Lars and the Real Girl is a very entertaining film about a shy male, Lars, who explores different aspects of himself and his difficulties in relating to others through purchase of a blow-up female doll. Ryan Grossling, star of one of better films ever made about teaching, Half Nelson, does an excellent job in sustaining his role in what could have been simply a silly idea. The supporting cast creates the idea that the small-town serves as a community who go along with the idea that the doll is a real member of their community in order to help Lars cope with his psychological issues.

 

Gone Baby Gone is another solid film with Ben Affleck directing his brother Casey as a private dectective who's trying to locate a missing three-year old girl in the down-and-out neighborhoods of South Boston. The acting is first-class, with Amy Ryan playing the irresponsible, drug-dealing mother of the girl; Ed Harris playing the role of the detective working on the case, and Morgan Freeman playing the police chief. While there are some ragged edges in the plot development, it's consistently suspenseful, and well worth seeing.

 

Michael Clayton is the best film I've seen this year. George Clooney is outstanding as Michael Clayton, the down-and-out "janitor" member of a large New York law firm whose client is a giant agricultural firm. Clayton's life is falling apart around him--he's lost his restaurant business, he's coping with being a single father, and he's now dealing with a partner's mental illness. The movie includes effective use of flash forwards that serve to predict what may happen and when these scence are then repeated, you then know why they happened. The script is strong and the camera work and music adds to the growing suspense around what will happen to Clayton.

 

Lust Caution by Ang Lee (Brokeback Mountain) is about a group of idealistic Chinese college students during WW II who are plotting to assassinate a leader who is collaborating with the Japanese by torturing and killing Chinese people. The primary character, a female student, assumes the role of a mole who infiltrates the leader's family, who befriends her. While critics note that is seems slow and impersonal, I found it to be a highly engaging and suspenseful of how people attempt to adopt masks to hide their true intentions. As these masks begin to fade because underlying emotional needs begin to emerge, the drama of human relations unfolds.

 

StardustThis film is an adaptation of Neil Gaiman's novel of the same title (same author of the The Sandman Chronicles), and it is a nice relief from the heavier films that are busy vying for Oscar nominations. The story is a fairy tale with evil witches, overly ambitious princes, dashing pirates, a hero that is cute as a button, and a glowing (literally glowing) heroine. This film comes complete with adventure, sword fights, a cursed princess, and a happy ending. So if you're in the mood for something light, follow your magical runes to Stardust.

 

3:10 to Yuma is a strong film--should get some Oscar nominations, especially for directing and acting. Russell Crowe plays the bad guy whose been captured and is being transported across a desolate landscape to catch the 3:10 train to Yuma where he'll go to prison by Dan Evans (Christian Bale) and a small group of men, including a Pinkerton bounty hunter played by Peter Fonda. It's a major challenge because Crowe's gang is in hot pursuit to free their boss.

 

The cinematography in some of the night scenes is quite good--it's often difficult to capture lighting/faces in night scenes, but this movie succeeds. It also moves along at a suspenseful pace, keeping viewers wondering if Crowe will ever be put on the train. I highly recommend this film.

 

David Cronenberg (A History of Violence): Eastern Promises

This thriller set in London revolves around a Russian mafia gang's attempt to control challenges to their power from rival gangs and information that would implicate their leader. Another strong film--outstanding acting, especially by Naomi Watts, and cinematography. It also contains some very graphic violence--so be forewarned.

 

Assassination of Jesse James

Based on a book on this topic.

 

October 6, 2006

MOVIE REVIEW | 'THE DEPARTED'

Scorsese’s Hall of Mirrors, Littered With Bloody Deceit

By MANOHLA DARGIS

 

There are almost as many films fighting in “The Departed” as there are guys slugging it out. First among those films is Martin Scorsese’s cubistic entertainment about men divided by power, loyalty and their own selves. Hovering above that film like a shadow is “Infernal Affairs,” the equally sleek Hong Kong assemblage on which it is based and which serves as one of its myriad doubles. And then there is the film conjured up by Jack, as in Jack Nicholson, who when not serving Mr. Scorsese’s interests with a monstrous leer all but subverts those interests with a greedy, devouring hunger.

 

Each Scorsese film comes freighted with so many expectations, as well as the enormity of his own legend, that it’s a wonder the director can bear the weight. Compared with his last fictional outings, the period story “Gangs of New York” and the Howard Hughes portrait “The Aviator,” this new work feels as light as a feather, or as light as any divertissement from a major filmmaker who funnels his ambitions through genre. What helps make “The Departed” at once a success and a relief isn’t that the director of “Kundun,” Mr. Scorsese’s deeply felt film about the Dalai Lama, is back on the mean streets where he belongs; what’s at stake here is the film and the filmmaking, not the director’s epic importance.

 

In “The Departed” the camera work and cutting feel faster, lower to the ground, more urgent than they have in his recent films. (Michael Ballhaus shot it; Thelma Schoonmaker edited.) The speed and Mr. Scorsese’s sureness of touch, particularly when it comes to carving up space with the camera, keep the plot’s hall of mirrors from becoming a distraction.

 

There simply isn’t time to think about the story and whether any of it makes sense, including the astonishing coincidences involving its stealth doppelgängers: Matt Damon’s Colin Sullivan, a bad guy who goes undercover in Boston as a state police officer, and Leonardo DiCaprio’s Billy Costigan, a state cop who infiltrates the underworld. Strangers to each other, Colin and Billy are brothers of a kind when it comes to Frank Costello, the gangster played by Mr. Nicholson. The evil this man does and portends is laid out with precision timing in the hair-raising opening minutes.

 

As the Rolling Stones wail on the soundtrack (“War, children, it’s just a shot away”), Frank moves through the shadows, his face almost entirely obscured. Dispensing Sun Tzu-like truths as if they were Pez candies, he sets his sights on little Colin Sullivan who, with eyes wide as plates, listens rapt. Frank buys the boy groceries, then leans into the girl behind the store counter, whispering something in her ear. (Her face says it’s something dirty.) Minutes later Colin (now played by Mr. Damon) has graduated from the police academy and is thanking Frank for his graduation gift. With a bag of food, the bad man has bought a soul.

 

Mr. Damon enters the story about the same time that Mr. Nicholson exits the shadows. Too bad he doesn’t stay there until the final credits. This Janus-like actor has long presented two faces for the camera, the jester called Jack and the actor named Nicholson. He has worn both faces for some of his famous roles, but over time he has grown fond of the outsize persona called Jack, with his shades and master-of-ceremonies sneer, and it’s hard not to think that the man has become his mask. Mr. Nicholson has some choice moments in “The Departed”: he owns the thrilling opening minutes and is persuasively unnerving in his early scenes with Billy, whom he only knows as a neighborhood loser ripe for the plucking.

 

But as the story twists and twists some more, Mr. Nicholson begins to mix too much Jack into his characterization. In Alexander Payne’s “About Schmidt,” he plays a man whose tamped-down disappointment meant that he had to pull the performance from deep inside; he committed to the part without the help of his sidekick persona. In “The Departed” he’s playing bigger and badder than life with engines roaring. It’s a loud, showy performance. Frank even comes equipped with a trove of gaudy accouterments: a goatee like an arrow, a leopard-print robe, a bevy of babes, a severed hand and a ridiculous fake phallus. Another actor might wear these accessories; Mr. Nicholson upstages them.

 

Mr. Scorsese, no wallflower himself, spends a lot of time vying for attention with his famous star. Mr. Damon and Mr. DiCaprio serve him better. Mr. Damon does some very good work as the buttoned-down gangster hiding a world of darkness behind a facade of normalcy; his boyish looks have rarely looked creepier than when Colin is eagerly doing Frank’s bidding. And Mr. DiCaprio’s own callow looks fit better with his role than they did in either “Gangs of New York” or “The Aviator.” He falls apart nicely, and in the scene in which he stands, anguished and wrung out, over the body of a fallen colleague, you see what Mr. Scorsese might have seen all along: a vulnerability that seems animal-like in its unknowing.

 

The role generally works to Mr. DiCaprio’s strengths since he has to keep a lid on the character and his own tendency to go overly big; even his physical performance, the way his arms and legs jangle, is more controlled. Billy melts down, but he melts slowly, his panic leaking through the cracks opened up by his escalating fear. Terrified that Frank will discover his identity, he unloads on a police shrink (Vera Farmiga, working hard to make a nothing role count), who also happens to be Colin’s girlfriend. The plot thickens, then reaches full boil among further complications, dirty dealings, blood on the floor and excellent performances from Alec Baldwin and Mark Wahlberg (as detectives), who own their every scene. As do the rest of the actors, they prove that what really counts here, in the end, isn’t the film, but all its swaggering men.

 

Fine as Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Damon are, neither is strong enough to usurp memories of the actors who played the same roles in the original — Tony Leung as the good guy, Andy Lau as the bad — both of whom register with more adult assurance. That’s an observation, not an indictment. Comparisons between “Infernal Affairs” and its redo are unavoidable given how closely the screenwriter William Monahan follows the first film’s beats and scenes. But as fans of “Infernal Affairs” (and its two sequels) know well, the Hong Kong film owes an enormous debt to Mr. Scorsese, whose imprint, along with that of Michael Mann, is all over the trilogy. The Hong Kong and Hollywood action films are themselves doppelgängers of a sort, and Mr. Scorsese, himself larger than life, is one of their biggest, baddest daddies.

 

“The Departed” is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). The language is dirty and the action bloody.

 

 

*******

As many of you know it is especially difficult to find decent productions of Shakespeares plays, I've listed a few that are quite good.

 

A midsummer night's dream (1999) -The Michael Hoffman version

This version is very good, the actors are quite good and Hoffman made some choices that would be interesting for you to delve into (the bicycles, the time period, the nakedness)  and kevin kline does a FANTASTIC job as Nick Bottom.

 

Othello (1995)- Oliver Parker

This version is very good, and I love the portrayal of Laurance Fishburne. It is especially good at giving insight into the characters and really brings Iago to life

 

Much Ado about nothing (1993) - kenneth branaugh

I thought it was wonderful.  Although Keanu Reeves is really out of his legue.  The scene with the men at the fountain, trying to bait Benedick is brilliant, I laugh all the time.

 

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