Green Zone – A Movie Review

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Mar 222010

During the U.S.-led occupation of Baghdad in 2003, Chief Warrant Officer Roy Miller and his team of Army inspectors were dispatched to find weapons of mass destruction believed to be stockpiled in the Iraqi desert. Rocketing from one bobby-trapped and treacherous site to the next, the men search for deadly chemical agents but stumble instead upon an elaborate cover-up that inverts the purpose of their mission. Spun by operatives with intersection agendas, Miller must hunt through covert and faulty intelligence hidden on foreign soil for answers that will either clear a rogue regime or escalate a war in an unstable region. And at this blistering time and in this combustible place, he will find the most elusive weapon of all is the truth.

Genres: Drama, Thriller, Adaptation and War; Running Time: 1 hr. 55 min.; Release Date: March 12th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for violence and language.

Starring: Matt Damon, Amy Ryan, Greg Kinnear, Antoni Corone, Nicoye Banks

Directed by: Paul Greengrass

Green Zone is the latest Iraq War inspired motion picture. The film is based on the 2006 non-fiction book ‘Imperial Life in the Emerald City’ by Rajiv Chandrasekaran, a journalist for The Washington Post. I haven’t read the book so I can’t comment on how closely the film follows it.

I enjoyed the Bourne movies, so I was expecting a decent movie, and got it. Green Zone is fast paced, and never takes the time to get sappy. The war being fought in the film is more between the Pentagon and the CIA than the US v Iraq which makes it all the more interesting and finally allows you to see a hint of things from Iraq’s perspective for a change.

The premise set up in the film about the ‘Intelligence’ surrounding Weapons of Mass Destruction used to justify the invasion is entirely believable. Matt Damon is well suited to his part as a unit leader Roy Miller, as is Brendan Gleeson as the CIA man and Greg Kinnear is appropriately nasty as Poundstone from the Pentagon – all turn in good performances. Shot on location in Morocco, Spain and in England I could have sworn we were in Bagdad the whole time. The settings are completely believable. Greengrass uses a lot of handheld camera work to build suspense. It may be a little too much for some people, but I thought it worked as a style element for this film.

There is no denying the fact that there are political viewpoints in the movie. By now everyone should know the intelligence was manufactured, and the US knew months before the invasion there were no weapons. It’s also clear that installing a government there has been a disaster, and this film begins to show some of why that is, and how we “screwed the pooch” in the earliest part of the war. The best scenes in the movie involve the meetings among the Iraqi factions trying to keep the country from collapsing into further chaos. They’re too brief, but they crackle with what’s going on now. I especially waiting on the film that shows even more of this perspective.

All-in-all, a very good movie, and well worth the time and money.

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 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on Invincible
Oct 152006

Invincible.jpgFrom the producers of “The Rookie”, this inspiring sports movie will star Mark Wahlberg as a Philadelphia Eagles fan who has just lost his wife and his teaching job. He decides one day to show up for an open tryout for his favorite NFL team, only to see his wildest dreams come true.

Directed by
Ericson Core

Drama, Sport

Mark Wahlberg, Greg Kinnear, Elizabeth Banks, Kevin Conway, Michael Rispoli, Kirk Acevedo, Dov Davidoff, Michael Kelly, Sal Darigo, Nicoye Banks, Turron Kofi Alleyne, Stink Fisher, Michael Mulheren, Michael Nouri, Jack Kehler

*** This comment may contain spoilers ***

Never underestimate the power of a good story, decent acting and a great soundtrack. That’s what Disney’s “Invincible,” starring Mark Wahlberg and Greg Kinnear, brings to viewers.

“Invincible” is the biographical tale of down-on-his-luck Vince Papale (Wahlberg), who is a pretty fair street football player in Philadelphia in the mid-1970s. He is also a substitute teacher, but when he loses that gig, is forced to tend bar part-time.

Meanwhile, his team, the NFL Eagles – mired in several seasons of last-place finishes (making the franchise the joke of the NFC East) – hires a new head coach, Dick Vermeil (Kinnear), who decides to hold an open tryout for players. It’s looked upon as a joke, and hundreds of untalented and out-of-shape clowns show up at Veteran’s Stadium for the event, even Vince (who never played college ball and is sure he is not good enough to get a second look). On a fluke, however, he is the only walk-on allowed to go to training camp.

Meanwhile, he becomes sort of a neighborhood celebrity, and develops a sweet love affair with his boss’ cousin, Janet (Elizabeth Banks), a die-hard New York Giants fan.

He impresses Vermeil enough to make it down to the final cut, but what happens after that, you’ll have to find out yourself.

Wahlberg might be a tad bit small for an NFL player (he’s much smaller than the real Papale), but he is appropriately well-built; and his low-key performance gives real pathos to his character.

Lastly, since the story takes place in 1975 (the year my old favorite team, the St. Louis Cardinals, won the NFC East), you would expect the soundtrack to blast some high quality tunes. In this respect, the film does not disappoint. Tunes from The Who, Jim Croce, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, Canned Heat, Edgar Winter Group, Grand Funk Railroad, Rod Stewart, Elvin Bishop, Rare Earth and others, highlights this movie-going experience.

A bit sappy, at times, but overall, a nice little biopic that is one of the more inspiring movies of 2006.

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Little Miss Sunshine

 Culture, Fun Stuff, Movies  Comments Off on Little Miss Sunshine
Aug 272006

Little_Miss_Sunshine.jpgA family determined to get their young daughter into the finals of a beauty pageant take a cross-country trip in their VW bus.

Directed by
Jonathan Dayton, Valerie Faris

Adventure, Comedy, Drama

Abigail Breslin, Greg Kinnear, Paul Dano, Alan Arkin, Toni Collette, Steve Carell, Bryan Cranston, Stan Grossman, Beth Grant, Justin Shilton

Lay and I went to see this movie Saturday night. Lay was working this weekend, so we had to make it a late show. This fantastic little movie is a complete short story, picking up at the addition of Steve Carell’s character to the crazy family headed by his sister (played by Collette) and her husband (played perfectly by Kinnear as a frustrated self-help presenter).

The family includes the quirky and somewhat overweight 8 year old, a by-choice speechless and frustrated 15 year old, and a drug sniffing angry grandpa (Arkin). Arkin steals every scene he’s in. The movie plays out like a typical “odd-group-thrown-into-a-small-area-and-must-overcome-together” situation, with a dilapidated VW bus as the key obstacle. But it’s the little moments of subtle humor that bring out the smiles in the audience at every step of the line. Carell has a 5 minute sarcasm bit, and you will never forget his style of running. The humor is never forced, the dialog seems very realistic, the sentimentality is never over the top nor yawn producing, and the finish was not only unexpected, but the most hilarious thing I’ve seen all year.

From the moment Alan Arkin appears on screen you realize immediately you’re in the presence of master. Arkin is, as some of my younger clients say, “off the chain.” Surprisingly enough, Abigail Breslin (who plays Olive)is up to the task and the scenes with these two are priceless. Both could easily be nominated as supporting actors and in a just world they would! While there many moments of hilarity, the movie is also a look into the culture of narcissism, where everyone involved is too busy with the “me, me, me” mindset of our hyper individualistic world to actually see what’s going on in the present moment. This situation leads to both high comedy and moments of poignancy. Highly recommended.

Everything about this film seemed to fit together; from the music choice, to the pacing, to the subtle placement of scenery and odd cinematography shots; the acting; the dialog; to the storyline, with its set up, pitfalls, and timely finish. To conclude, I would say this film is perfect movie-going entertainment without trying to say too much and be anything more than it is.

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