Mr. Brooks

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Mr. Brooks
Nov 062007
 

Mr. BrooksAfter Mr Brooks (Costner) receives a “Man of the Year” award, we find out he is a serial killer haunted by the voice of his alter ego inside his head.

Director:
Bruce A. Evans

Genre:
Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast:
Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt, Marg Helgenberger, Ruben Santiago-Hudson, Danielle Panabaker, Aisha Hinds, Lindsay Crouse, Jason Lewis, Reiko Aylesworth, Matt Schulze, Yasmine Delawari

Lay and I watched this movie on DVD Saturday night. Lay started talking about wanting the movie to end in an unconvential way, and boy did he get his wish. 

Costner movies are so hit or miss. He’s the LAST person on earth that I’d expect to be playing a serial killer. His demeanor is too gentle and even. In this movie he is cold, brilliant, methodical, and heartless. Definitely not the traits we normally expect from Kevin Costner. And yet, it’s fascinating to watch. I found myself kind of rooting for him, and then had to remind myself what his character is. Top notch acting from him. That slow, gentle, deliberate pace gives it a surreal sense of unease that a lesser actor couldn’t match. It is exactly his everyman persona that makes this movie work.

In the tone of the movie, I was thrown by Costner’s previous work as well. He’s best known for somewhat light and under-realized fare. Mr. Brooks is anything but. This is a very, very dark movie, to the point that it’s uncomfortable in places.

Kudos as well to William Hurt, who isn’t known for playing this sort of role. It would have been easy for his character to descend into cliché, but it doesn’t. He holds the right note, and the chemistry between him and Costner definitely works.

The real star of this drama is the story, and the script. It is very well written but for one character. Frankly Demi Moore’s character as a trust fund rich detective seems to be written almost as an after-thought. I guess the rest of the movie is so well written, her part stands out for the lack of depth. On top of that, she does a bad job with the part by overacting and trying to pull too much out of a flat character.

It would have been easy to turn this into a gore-fest (and it is graphic in some parts), but it’s nice to see a film that doesn’t have to go for the visceral reaction to achieve it’s tension. This is an assault to the mind, not the eyes, and it’s exceptionally well done.  This Costner movie was a definite hit.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...
Oct 212007
 

The KingdomWhen a terrorist bomb detonates inside a Western housing compound in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, an international incident is ignited. While diplomats slowly debate equations of territorialism, FBI Special Agent Ronald Fleury (Jamie Foxx) quickly assembles an elite team (Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, and Jason Bateman) and negotiates a secret five-day trip into Saudi Arabia to locate the man behind the bombing. Upon landing in the desert kingdom, however, Fleury and his team discover Saudi authorities suspicious and unwelcoming of American interlopers into what they consider a local matter.

Director:
Peter Berg

Genre:
Action, Crime, Thriller, Drama

Cast:
Jamie Foxx, Chris Cooper, Jennifer Garner, Jason Bateman, Ashraf Barhom, Ali Suliman, Jeremy Piven, Richard Jenkins, Kyle Chandler, Frances Fisher, Danny Huston, Kelly AuCoin, Anna Deavere Smith, Minka Kelly, Amy Hunter

FBI Agent Fleury’s crew finds a like-minded partner in Saudi Colonel Al-Ghazi, who helps them navigate royal politics and unlock the secrets of the crime scene and the workings of an extremist cell bent on further destruction.  With these unlikely allies sharing a propulsive commitment to crack the case, the team is led to the killer’s front door.

This movie ends up feeling like an episode of ’24’. The cast are great though especially Piven and Foxx, but Cooper and Garner seem criminally underused in the film. The film is harrowing in parts and the scenes involving Bateman and the extremists are some of the most tense scenes seen .

The Kingdom is exciting, well acted and tense but almost ruined by the restless hand-held camera-work. I simply do not understand why some directors think that this technique adds anything to a movie. Presumably it is intended to replicate a documentary style by conveying a sense of urgency and excitement but the effect is simply headache-inducing.You get no time to focus on any one scene as the camera twitches from one angle to another.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Hot Fuzz

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Hot Fuzz
Oct 212007
 

Hot FuzzJealous colleagues conspire to get a top London cop transferred to a small town and paired with a witless new partner. On the beat, the pair stumble upon a series of suspicious accidents and events.

Director:
Edgar Wright

Genre:
Comedy, Action, Crime

Cast:
Simon Pegg, Martin Freeman, Bill Nighy, Robert Popper, Joe Cornish, Chris Waitt, Eric Mason, Billie Whitelaw, Nick Frost, Peter Wight, Julia Deakin

We rented this movie to give Lay’s nephews something to watch during a sleepover. They thought it was great fun with lots of shooting and chasing.  The story tells us of an over-active police officer, Nicholas Angel who is sent to work out in a small town. Suspicions arrive in the town however, as people start getting killed ‘accidentally’. Coupled with his rather unprofessional partner Danny Butterman they get themselves into suspicious circumstances Nicholas Angel fails to ignore.

But what can I say? It’s just hilarious! An incredibly funny, witty, British comedy that manages to bring you  laughter and also offers extremely well directed and executed action scenes! If you liked Shaun of the Dead, you’ll love this, simple as that. I was oddly surprised to find that it was violent, albeit, in a cartoony way.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Rush Hour 3

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Rush Hour 3
Aug 192007
 

Rush Hour 3Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker return as Inspectors Lee and Carter. This time the Chinese ambassador has been shot by the worst criminal organization in the world, the Triad, during a council. When the ambassador’s daughter gets kidnapped, the story leads the cops to Paris, where they work to destroy the Triads for good.

Director
Brett Ratner

Genre
Action, Comedy, Crime, Thriller

Cast
Chris Tucker, Jackie Chan, Hiroyuki Sanada, Youki Kudoh, Max von Sydow, Yvan Attal, Noémie Lenoir, Jingchu Zhang, Tzi Ma, Roman Polanski, Henry O, Michael Chow

Lay and I saw this last night at AMC Westshore. I was hoping that seeing it at Westshore might mitigate the noise problem I expected from a bunch of kids that might see it at Veterans. Unfortunately, the movie was spoiled for us by a lady sitting about three seats over. Her kid kicked the back of the seat in front of him though out the movie, despite the seat occupant giving them “the look.” But the worst was the lady herself carrying on a conversation with the movie during the entire show. Several couples in the moved. Why theater managers don’t do a better job of checking on noise, I’ll never understand. 

The first two were pretty good comedy movies staring both Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker as cop partners with a typical plot with good action mixed with comedy. This one follows the same structure. If you liked the first two, you will most likely enjoy this one. There are, as expected, lots of action scenes and again Chris Tucker’s character delivers a lot of the jokes and Jackie Chan’s still got the awesome moves, but I thought this one was a bit more tame.

It was the usual plot that started with an attempted murder, the bad guy disguised as the good guy, and a kidnapping. It was good and I’m glad the series is still working but perhaps the series should end here. It’s hard to tell, but usually 3 movies is enough and the first one started like 10 years ago so its a rather large gap. The movie delivered a few laughs, some action scenes, and for what it was I thought it stayed true to its pedigree.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Zodiac

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Zodiac
Aug 022007
 

ZodiacA serial killer in the San Francisco Bay Area taunts police with his letters and cryptic messages. We follow the investigators and reporters in this lightly fictionalized account of the true 1970’s case as they search for the murderer, becoming obsessed with the case. Based on Robert Graysmith’s book, the movie’s focus is the lives and careers of the detectives and newspaper people.

Director
David Fincher

Genre
Crime / Drama / Thriller

Cast
Jake Gyllenhaal, Mark Ruffalo, Anthony Edwards, Robert Downey Jr., Brian Cox, John Carroll Lynch, Richmond Arquette, Bob Stephenson, John Lacy, Chloë Sevigny, Ed Setrakian, John Getz, John Terry, Candy Clark, Elias Koteas

Usually when a film gets made about a media grabbing unsolved crime, the resulting movie tends to be overtly sensational and at only remotely connected to what really happened. But the director has given us a well argued thesis on the possible identity of the Zodiac. While there are some very intense scenes, Fincher takes a somewhat unexpected approach on the subject. All of the killings take place pretty early on in the movie, with the bulk of the story centering on the actual investigation into the killer by both the cops and a cartoonist who becomes obsessed with the case. In fact, the depictions of the murders are done in a manner that is fairly reverent towards the victims while still conveying the cruelty of them.

Some people may find themselves disappointed by this two and a half hour epic if they go in expecting the usual serial killer fare. But it’s a must see for anybody who likes a good detective story.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Lucky Number Slevin

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Lucky Number Slevin
Dec 102006
 

Lucky Number SlevenA case of mistaken identity lands Slevin (Josh Hartnett) into the middle of a war being plotted by two of the city’s most rival crime bosses: The Rabbi (Ben Kingsley) and The Boss (Morgan Freeman). Slevin is under constant surveillance by relentless Detective Brikowski (Stanley Tucci) as well as the infamous assassin Goodkat (Bruce Willis) and finds himself having to hatch his own ingenious plot to get them before they get him.

Directed by
Paul McGuigan

Genres
Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast
Josh Hartnett, Bruce Willis, Lucy Liu, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Michael Rubenfeld, Peter Outerbridge, Stanley Tucci, Kevin Chamberlin, Dorian Missick, Mykelti Williamson, Scott Gibson, Daniel Kash, Dmitry Chepovetsky, Sam Jaeger

I just really do not recall seeing the trailers for this movie, and we certainly didn’t watch it at the theater. However, we rented this movie last weekend. I didn’t get around to watching it until Thursday night. Lay had watched it the night before, and had really liked it.

Lucky Number Slevin – no, that’s not a typo – will easily be dismissed as Tarantino-esq. Starring Josh Hartnett as the unlucky title character, the film has more twists and turns than a high-tech roller-coaster, but it’s just as much fun.

Directed with breakneck technique by Paul McGuigan from a clever though highly implausible script by Jason Slimovic, the film is cast, with one minor exception, impeccably. It marks the first role that justifies Josh Hartnett’s hype, and bestows Lucy Liu the most normal – and incandescent – part of her career. It’s a bonus that they have palpable on-screen chemistry, as well as great foils in the guise of Bruce Willis and Morgan Freeman (though Ben Kingsley’s high-strung performance as The Rabbi is a miscalculation). The film itself is stylized – written in high gumshoe/screwball mode, with a guided tour of ugly wallpapers throughout history as part of its hard-boiled milieu – though the actors’ convictions root the topsy-turvy narrative in recognizable human terrain.

At its best, Lucky Number Slevin has the feel of a minor John Huston caper directed, with prankish glee, by Brian DePalma. It’s a blood-revenge thriller with no depth, though there are reservoirs of feeling in Hartnett’s and Liu’s performances, as well as wit. Liu seems to the screwball manor born. And Hartnett prances around for nearly 30 minutes of screen time in nothing more than a long purple towel and a quizzical expression. He’s such a game actor that his performance is both a put-on and homage to the long line of Macguffins in film noir. With, of course, a twist.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

The Departed

 Culture, General, Movies, Movies I Own  Comments Off on The Departed
Oct 152006
 

The DepartedTwo men from opposite sides of the law are undercover within the Boston State Police department and the Irish mafia, but violence and bloodshed boil when discoveries are made, and the moles are dispatched to find out their enemy’s identities.

Directed by
Martin Scorsese

Genres
Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast
Leonardo DiCaprio, Matt Damon, Jack Nicholson, Mark Wahlberg, Martin Sheen, Ray Winstone, Vera Farmiga, Anthony Anderson,� Alec Baldwin, Kevin Corrigan, James Badge Dale, David O’Hara, Mark Rolston, Robert Wahlberg, Kristen Dalton

It’s very rare to click on Yahoo Movies and see a movie with “A” ratings from both viewers and critics. Lay and I went Friday night, and we are ready to go back and see it again.

Needless to say I was expecting a lot – more than I thought this director (of classics like Taxi Driver but lately of Gangs of New York) would deliver. I was very wrong.

Though the exact plot is unimportant, The Departed is about the blurred lines that distinguish good guy from bad guy, and cop from robber, in present-day Boston. With a packed cast (which I need not mention) that includes great supporting roles by Martin Sheen and Alec Baldwin, the acting in the departed is stellar. Living-legend Jack Nicholson flawlessly delivers one of his best performances in years as the execrable mob boss Frank Costello. Nicholson’s nuanced acting was so on-point that at times I felt like I was actually about to be shot by the slimy capo.

The Departed is nothing short of spectacular. Funnier that most comedies, Scorsese is still able to amplify the bloodshed and meticulously deliver a stunning cinematic achievement.

Bravo, Mr. Scorsese; you have outdone yourself.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

How many murders go unsolved each year in the U.S.?

 Science, Society  Comments Off on How many murders go unsolved each year in the U.S.?
Jun 042006
 

DNA. Carpet fibers. Fingerprints. Given the wealth of forensic information, you’d think police would solve each and every murder. Unfortunately, you’d be wrong. According to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, in 2004, 62.6% of homicides were “cleared,” leaving a substantial portion of murder cases unresolved.The FBI’s official site says a crime is cleared when either an arrest is made or “elements beyond the control of law enforcement prevent the agency from arresting and formally charging the offender, by exceptional means.” We assume this refers to rare cases when, for example, suspects die before they can be charged.

In 2004, there were 16,137 cases of murder or nonnegligent manslaughter in the United States. Because 37.4% of these cases went uncleared, around 6,035 people “got away with murder” that year. Of course, this assumes each offender murdered only one person, which very likely isn’t true, but seeing as the cases are unsolved, this is our best guess. Anyway, while that number is disturbingly high, there is some good news. From 2003 to 2004, the number of murders fell 2.4% and violent crime in general is on a downswing.

Final Word on Attorney Season In Texas

 Constitution, Corruption, Crime, Politics, Presidency, Society  Comments Off on Final Word on Attorney Season In Texas
Feb 202006
 

Here’s my final word this truly a sorry scandal. I think what happened is pretty clear:

Cheney and his friends sat around the ranch having a few drinks Saturday, then decided to do a little shooting. The VP shot a guy. Cheney’s handlers cover the situation by arranging for Dick to be interviewed by the local constabulary the next morning.

They didn’t release info immediately because if the guy died, they would want to find someone else to pin the shooting on (That’s why Mr. Whittington has been receiving care from Cheney’s very own doctors). It also probably means the guy is injured far more than anyone wants to admit.

The story leaked much to their disappointment. Maybe they were trying to set up the ranch owner to take the fall, and she wasn’t buying, but who knows.

Cheney has never understood the essence of public life (it’s public). He still sees himself as the biggest of the corporate big-whigs, and as such, not answerable to American Citizens. (We just keep getting in his way.) He doesn’t care whether Bush knew or not. Bush isn’t the man, Dick is. W reports to him. He’s certainly not interested in a heart-felt apology, because we know the guy’s heart is dead (not only physically, but spiritually as well). Although he talked on Fox about how tragic this is, and how sorry he is. It was only ONE of his worst days. I’m not sure about you, but I think if I shot someone, especially a friend by accident, it would probably go right to top of my worst day list, and I’ve had some bad ones.

It is another travesty in this lost democracy, and certainly just another example of the arrogance and lack of accountability by the people in this administration. I detest them all as much as anyone, and am sick that they do stuff like this and get away with it.

I think we can all stipulate to the above. However, Dick Cheney getting drunk and shooting someone while hunting is the least of our worries. While the Press has been looking the other way, the Bush Administration has managed to pretty much derail any Congressional Investigation of the domestic spying scandal. Bush is sneaking Healthcare and Social Security privatization into the budget. I think the war in Iraq, the coming war in Iran, the Constitutional violations by the Administration, and the federal budget are issues that have far greater impact on each of us.

Dick screwed the pooch big time, tried to cover it up, got caught, is arrogant and doesn’t believe he has to be apologetic or take responsibility for anything. We can rant and rave here all we want, it will NOT change who Dick Cheney is, and does nothing to protect our Country. We must remain focused on limiting the damage Cheney and team can do to our democracy. Don’t let them sidetrack us with things like extended discussions of the spread characteristics of birdshot, and what time the sun set in Texas that day. It does nothing to protect our Democracy.

Please…Let’s get back to the important stuff. (Karl Rove is loving these threads.)

Matador, The

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Matador, The
Jan 302006
 

The Matador (2005)

A globetrotting hitman and a crestfallen businessman meet in a hotel bar in Mexico City in an encounter that draws them together in a way neither expected.

Directed by
Richard Shepard

Genres
Comedy, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Cast
Pierce Brosnan, Arlin Miller, Jonah Meyerson, Greg Kinnear, Hope Davis, Adam Scott, Portia Dawson, Roberto Sosa, Antonio Zavala, Ramon Alvarez, Philip Baker Hall, Carolyn Horwitz, Jorge Robles, Hanny S?enz, Gabriela Goldsmith

The delivery of some very humorous rude lines by Pierce Brosnan is alone worth the price of admission. He plays a kind of “James Bond’s psycho twin brother”, separated at birth, no doubt. As an intense hit-man, his character is very sexual but even better, very funny. Add the kind-hearted, uber-likable American “guy next door’, Greg Kinnear, to set up contrast. The myriad locations, vivid colors, and quick-witted humor provide great entertainment. Hope Davis is well cast as the “gem of a wife”. But the focus of the film is on the two fellows, a new “Odd Couple”, and that’s the part that works very well. Have a great (probably R-rated) laugh, and look for the places where the story goes a little deeper.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...

Munich

 Culture, Movies, Politics  Comments Off on Munich
Jan 092006
 

Munich (2005)

During the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, eleven Israeli athletes are taken hostage and murdered by a Palestinian terrorist group known as Black September. In retaliation, the Israeli government recruits a group of Mossad agents to track down and execute those responsible for the attack.

Directed by
Steven Spielberg

Genres
Crime, Drama, History, Thriller

Cast
Eric Bana, Daniel Craig, Ciar?n Hinds, Mathieu Kassovitz, Hanns Zischler, Ayelet Zorer, Geoffrey Rush, Gila Almagor, Michael Lonsdale, Mathieu Amalric, Moritz Bleibtreu, Valeria Bruni Tedeschi, Meret Becker, Marie-Jos?e Croze, Yvan Attal

Lay and I went to see Munich Friday night at the Veteran’s 24. This movie is very similar to “The Sword of Gideon.” The Sword Of Gideon (1986) documents Israel’s subsequent counteractions against the perpetrators of Munich.

Munich is a good movie, but I felt that I had seen it before. However, as you would expect from Spielberg, the cinematography is excellent. The special effects are reasonable, and well done…merely adding to the story. I thought the entire cast did an excellent job with their roles.

I’d say its a movie worth seeing, especially given that there is a large audience that has never seen the Sword of Gideon.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (No Ratings Yet)
Loading...?