Fair Game – A Movie Review

 Culture, Movies, Politics, Presidency  Comments Off on Fair Game – A Movie Review
Dec 142010

As a covert officer in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie Plame leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie’s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson, is drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue to support the call to war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions and ignites a firestorm of controversy.

Genres: Drama, Thriller, Adaptation, Biopic and Politics; Running Time: 1 hr. 48 min.; Release Date: November 5th, 2010 (wide); MPAA Rating: PG-13 for some language.

Starring: Naomi Watts, Sean Penn, Noah Emmerich, Liraz Charchi, Nicholas Sadler

Directed by: Doug Liman

We saw this in the theater the first weekend it was out. There was a decent crowd, but the theater was not packed.

The movie follows the story based on testimony and other public information.. On the other “side,” we have a list of claims that even at the time were discredited and are still discredited, but there is no “version” of how and why this country went to war with Iraq. The film leaves no argument because there is no other side. And to date, we still do not have a reason as to why the administration chose to stand before the world and make claims they knew to be discredited.

The events leading up to the declaration of war take up about half the film’s running time. In the first half, we see what Valerie Plame does at the CIA. It’s surprisingly detailed and candid and came across as authentic.  It shows how operatives are often recruited to work with inteligence services. While these various operatives are fiction, we assume they are close to the truth. And the outcome for them when the Bush Administration’s cover is blown makes one very ashamed of our leaders.

The second half of the film omits the sensational allegations concerning journalists Judith Miller and Robert Novak since neither of the principles in the film ever had contact with them. Valarie Plame and Joe Wilson were only their victims. And as the heads begin to roll the relationship of the Wilson’s takes center stage. While that’s interesting, it’s not what concerns us the most in this story. Joe Wilson, played by Sean Penn, is more gentle than the person we saw on media outlets. While Penn conveys the idealism of Wilson.

Naomi Watts, as always, gives a terrific portrayal of a woman who lives two lives. The Valerie Plame we saw at the Senate Hearings is in Watt’s performance, but we also see the strength, intelligence and commitment she makes to a job that requires her to play many sides of the same fence. For instance, there’s a domestic scene where Wilson complains about the danger of his wife’s job and he never knows where she’s going or if he’ll ever see her again. Plame patiently listens and then says, “I’m going to Cleveland.”  It’s a rich and likely accurate illustration of what it must be like to be married to someone who works for the CIA.

As he always does, Penn just stepped right into the persona of Joe Wilson. I don’t know how he does it, but he looked a lot like Wison, and just seemed to have the mannerisms I remember from Wilson’s various TV appearances down pat. The guy is just an amazing actor all around.

In the end, we leave the theater hearing only one side of the argument, and that’s because the Bush Administration has never been called to account for why they insisted on the war with Iraq. We do see why they needed to destroy the lives of these two people, and in doing so harmed much more than a married couple in Washington, DC. This is well acted, tightly written and directed with straight-forward finesse making it one of the finest films of the year.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 8.00 out of 10)

International, The – A Movie Review

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on International, The – A Movie Review
Aug 252009

theinternational_posterInterpol Agent Louis Salinger and Manhattan Assistant District Attorney Eleanor Whitman are determined to bring to justice one of the world’s most powerful banks. Uncovering myriad and reprehensible illegal activities, Salinger and Whitman follow the money from Berlin to Milan to New York to Istanbul. Finding themselves in a high-stakes chase across the globe, their relentless tenacity puts their own lives at risk as their targets will stop at nothing — even murder — to continue financing terror and war.

Genres: Action/Adventure, Drama and Thriller; Running Time: 1 hr. 58 min.; Release Date: February 13th, 2009 (wide); MPAA Rating: R for some sequences of violence and language.

Starring: Clive Owen, Naomi Watts, Armin Mueller-Stahl, Ulrich Thomsen, Brian O Byrne

Directed by: Tom Tykwer

I finally watched this on TIVO from Amazon Sunday evening. It was a bit better than I expected, but I’m glad I didn’t spend the full theatre price to see it.

It is formulaic with some evil guys who run a bank, and create debt to control countries. No surprise there, and fairly easy to pull off. We don’t view bankers as heros much anymore.

Naomi Watts character was a bit stiff, and her dialogue very predictable and forced. Clive Owen played his part well, as he usually does. One of the holes seems to be that the characters were able to travel to far distant reaches of the world in mere hours. I’d love to have their corporate jets.

I’m usually not very aware of camera shots so the fact that i’m saying Tykwer really makes you think about perfect camera movement and angles really says a lot for what he does here. Not only does he start the suspense up early with strong verbal encounters/hard stares between characters but the way he frames and pans along the beautiful design of places like the Guggenheim Museum and the IBBC headquarters or the ancient buildings, narrow, bustling streets, and rooftops of Instanbul is fantastic. Nearly every scene has a lively visual quality. His one mistake actually comes with the movie’s one big action sequence. It’s a bloody shootout inside the Guggenheim but it just seems messy and hard to make out, a Paul Greengrass imitation without the exciting energy of a “Bourne” movie.

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars6 Stars7 Stars8 Stars9 Stars10 Stars (1 votes, average: 6.00 out of 10)

King Kong

 Culture, Movies  Comments Off on King Kong
Jan 222006

King Kong (2005)

In 1933 New York, an overly ambitious movie producer coerces his cast and hired ship crew to travel to mysterious Skull Island, where they encounter Kong, a giant ape who is immediately smitten with leading lady Ann Darrow.

Directed by
Peter Jackson

Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Thriller

Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, Thomas Kretschmann, Colin Hanks, Andy Serkis, Evan Parke, Jamie Bell, Lobo Chan, John Sumner, Craig Hall, Kyle Chandler, Willians Johnson, Mark Hadlow, Geraldine Brophy

With the technology available for special effects, this could have been a great movie. Unfortunately, it wasn’t. Sadly, this movie just proves the point that good effects do not a good movie make. It was certainly a disaster (of a) movie.

What happened here is that a film with enough plot to last for the time of the original was stretched out to try fill 3 hours of screen time, and the result is disastrous. In addition, it’s pretty clear that CGI nerds and video game designers had way too much input into this atrocity.

I could provide details of no less than 10 scenes that were totally irrelevant to the movie (but that would provide some spoilers for those that want to see the movie). In addition scenes that didn’t need to be in the movie, nearly every scene ran about twice as long as necessary.

If you removed all this irrelevant nonsense, what would remain might not have been that bad. It would probably be quite good, in fact. Sadly, it was left in. It’s hard to imagine how insufferable a DVD “Director’s Cut” could be.

On the positive side, Naomi Watts was excellent, as was Jack Black. The acting in general was a positive, no real complaints there. And the animation of Kong himself was excellent. Very well done.

Sadly though, very little of the movie involved acting. It was all about making it a big video game and putting in all the effects. The effects are not themselves the movie, they are there to support the movie!

To summarize, there were a lot of good pieces, but there were also a lot of bad ones. Ultimately too many were used, and a lot of them did not belong.

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