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The film is a second feature by a director who had a film at Tribeca a few years ago which i never saw. This is a gritty pot boiler made in Brazil with an eclectic mix of famous faces and non-professional actors. The film is extremely violent but not without a soul. I particularly applaud Brendan Fraser for a stellar turn as the Bad Guy. Here is a part that he might well be remember for in years to come. Also very good is Scott Glenn and Mos Def. My favorite aspect of the film was the film score which was very emotional. I give it a solid 7 for those that like crime films. Beware there is a lot of blood in this one.
In a dark and decadent area of São Paulo, the exiled Americans Sinatra
(Scott Glenn) and his son Paul (Brendan Fraser) own a brothel. Paul is
a compulsive gambler addicted in cocaine and his father is married with
the former prostitute Angie (Catalina Sandino Moreno), and they have a
little son. When a client is killed by his wife in their establishment,
they find a suitcase with drugs. In the night that they have scheduled
a negotiation with African buyers, their African liaison dies while
having sex with the travesty Nazda (Matheus Nachtergaele). Sinatra
proposes to the Nigerian dishwasher of the brothel, Wemba (Mos Def), to
travel to the harbor of Santos, close the business with the drug
dealers and in return he would receive a large amount. Wemba accepts
but while returning to his car in the harbor, he is attacked by two
smalltime thieves and passes out. His lack of contact with Sinatra and
Paul leads to a sequence of misunderstandings with a tragic end.
"Journey to the End of the Night" is a movie about losers that have a second chance in life, but waste it along a night of entwined mistakes. None of the characters is totally evil, they are ambiguous and develop a sort of empathy with the viewer. Scott Glenn plays an owner of a brothel, but also a family man concerned with the future of his son. The addicted and violent character of Brendan Fraser has a deep trauma from his childhood. Angie, played by Catalina Sandino Moreno, is divided between Sinatra and Paul. Wemba, played by Mos Def, is a simple honest worker that accepts to participate in a dirty business to raise easy money. The excellent Brazilian actor Matheus Nachtergaele performs a travesty in a key role. Watching this film somehow I slightly recalled "After Hours", a comedy of errors in New York. The lighting uses weird colors (yellow, red, green) and together with the bad weather, highlights the underworld of a poor and dark area in the cold São Paulo, in a film-noir style. The story is predictable, there are many coincidences, but I liked this movie. My vote is seven.
Title (Brazil): "12 Horas Até o Amanhecer" ("12 Hours Until Dawn")
What fun seeing a good ole fashion blood and guts, shoot 'em up noir. I
felt like I was seeing a whole other side of the way crime thrillers
could be made. This one uses sex, mostly in the backdrop and dialog in
a hauntingly unerotic way--which speaks to the characters' misery and
inability to feel pleasure. Not even sex or drugs can save them.
Journey's plot is secondary to the indelible, painterly images; so much like Christopher Doyle's work that I had to stop the DVD and see who the cinematographer was.
Scott Glenn rises to the occasion playing father and husband trying to make one last score so he can get out of the game. The old actor brings a lifetime of experience to the part. And really makes you invest emotionally in his plight. Also strong is Brendan Fraser, jumping out of his comedic pigeonhole and delivering an incredibly nuanced performance, at times funny, frightening and unforgettable.
I also watched the film at Tribeca and found it as a whole work to be interesting and entertaining. Sure there were flaws in the film itself but in total I enjoyed the camera work, the colors and the actors. I didn't have a problem with any of the actors on the screen. I thought Brandon Fraser was cast in a role that he normally doesn't play but that didn't take away from the movie if anything it added to it. He definitely had a presence on the screen as did Scott. The characters were also justified in their actions. Don't get me wrong there were flaws in the film I just felt that they were minimal. I went in expecting to watch a film that wasn't going to be very good and I ended up seeing something that I though was entertaining and interesting. The main character was not Brazil, there are movies where the city is the main character and the actors are there to move it along. This was very much character based film.
Just came back from the premiere in the Tribeca Film Fest, and I must
say I am very disappointed. I was looking forward to this film as it
includes great American and Brazilian talent involved, but it all
The audience in general did not seemed thrilled by the movie. An unexciting Q and A followed the screening and even the actor themselves (especially Mos Def) did not seem to be very interested in discussing the movie.
The plot is over the top, full of holes. The movie does not strike a balance between in gritty reality and supernatural elements. Many shockers (she-male sex scene, gore) only disgust, but do not add the the narrative power of the movie. Characters jump in and out of scenes without any development and explanation. Unintentional laughs all along the screening.
The city of Sao Paulo, Brazil was poorly used. It could have been just any other poor area in a third world country. Little do people know, the city is a megalopolis with much to be explored, but the filmmakers just used it for shock value. It is a poorly executed portrayal of a complex city. They could have very much used a sound stage.
The actors are obviously very talented, yet ultimately miscast. Brendan Fraser tries hard, but he is not born to play an asshole role. It just came over as over the top and preposterous. Scott Glenn was solid, as was Catalina. Mos Def is the standout though.
The filmmakers do not seem very confident of what language they want to use. While I appreciate the fact that locals spoke Portuguese with subtitles, even English speaking main characters every once in a while changed their language whilst in the middle of dialogue. It sounds phony, rehearsed and plainly sucks.
The plot attempts and Tarantino-esquire mish mash of characters that somehow inter wine - but they are so poorly developed that everything seems silly and point out to holes in the plot.
Believe me, I was looking forward to this and tried very hard to like it. If you are interested in gritty dramas about Brazilian suburbs, rent City of God, Central Station, heck, Mango Yellow instead.
TOO MUCH WASTED TALENT, and honestly, I blame on the director. This had a lot of potential. Gritty cinematography is of high quality though.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Film Noir (literally 'black film') was a term created by French film
scribes who noticed how 'dark', downbeat and black the textures and
themes of many American crime and detective movies finally released in
France following the WWII. (Films they hadn't been able to see under
German occupation.) These B&W flicks initially came into vogue in the
'40s, became more popular in the post-war era (especially as B-films,
played behind more conventional cinema from Hollywood) and lasted up
until the classic "Golden Age" to about 1960 -- or maybe 1958 -- as
"Touch of Evil" is usually cited (by film professors) as the end of the
classic noir period.
It's interesting to note that film noir is not a genre, but rather a mood, style, point-of-view, or tone of a film. This tone can be blended with other genre's to form a most satisfying effect (most recently, the film "Brick" exploited noir conventions in High School setting!).
Caper films, with its intricate plotting and criminal-characters existing on the periphery of society are some of the most significant examples of famous noir works. Most feature a "tone of pessimism, and darkness" and mainly share the form's visual style. But their main focus usually lies in the way they detail the strategies of the crime, that typically end up in fatal outcome, suggesting that there is a moral order to the universe, and that bad guys should not succeed.
Crime Capers fall into several categories. In recent times, we've seen the jazzy stuff produced by Guy Richie and Soderbergh. In the 70s, we saw the existential masterpieces by Melville. In the eighties, we've seen caper films that were really romantic comedies at heart. Indeed, the fusion of capers has made its way into many a sub-categories heading.
The same can be probably said for thrillers, although less fusions exist with classic thrillers. This category usually sticks to increasingly tense dramatic situation and if anything, veers into the realm of action films. Note that both "Fatal Attraction and "Basic Instinct" feature action set pieces that could easily be cut into a Bruckheimer film.
JTTEOTN is not a caper film, a thriller, an actioner or even a straight noir -- its all those things, and none of them.
"Journey to the End of the Night" suffers (wrongly) from being a not "instantly categorizable" work (not in the marketing sense, but in the processing sense; i.e, how our brains orient to story: who am I supposed to root for? Brendan Fraser? No. Scott Glenn? No. Mos Def, yes, finally, but not wholeheartedly, because even the saintly Wemba is a drug runner who undertakes his mission solely out of greed). Its these types of transgressions that play against the contemporary mores, and a viewer's desire to enjoin and identity (within the first ten minutes) with a hero. Still and all, I would argue, that it is precisely this break with convention that has such an a lasting effect on the viewer. And makes JTTEOTN a most powerful post-modern noir.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
"Journey to the End of the Night" defies any instant classification. It
touches on many genres and plays more like an amalgamation of films.
The effect is wonderful and stirring and by the end of the movie you
feel like you've been on an emotional roll-coaster.
The plot is plain. Brendan Fraser is in love with his father's wife. He wants to run away with her and start over in a new country. Brendan has no respect for the old man because he is essentially a pimp -- (Scot Glen owns a nightclub where girls sell themselves).
One night a man is "offed" in the club and leaves behind a bounty of drugs. Scot Glen and Brendan decide to sell the drugs rather than hand it over to the cops -- (Scot Glen has his own designs about starting over and getting out of the business).
They enlist the help of one of their lowly employees (Mos Def) whom they know very little about. Only that he is Nigerian and that he can speak the same language of their buyer.
Mos Def embarks on his mission which takes on a heroic, almost mythic resonance in one of the most humanistic, gentle roles I have ever observed. He progress is derailed by random violence which leaves him without his cell phone to call Scot Glen and Brendan Fraser (who now believe that Mos Def has absconded with the cash).
Scot Glen in an act of desperation visits an old Fortune Teller to try to enlist his powers in finding Mos Def. Brendan Fraser begins to panic because his plan on getting away is beginning to unravel.
Mos Def is rescued, as it were, by a beautiful young maiden (Alice Braga) who--because of a fight with her boyfriend--is lost in the world with no where to go.
Mos Def and Alice team up for a heartbreaking and tragic passage back to the city. We see that despite some affinities there love is not to be.
Meanwhile, back at the club Brendan Fraser stews over the missing drug mule, and begins to melt down. He confronts his father in brilliant "actorly" moment that redeems his character. We find through classic monologue why he is the way he is (And Fraser does some of his greatest work in this scene).
The ending of "Journey to the End of the Night" borders on the fantastical and is wildly ambitious. Perhaps overly so and perhaps not entirely convincing. But no less great.
The film is chocked filled with energy and passion, bloodshed, car chases, shoot outs, and moments of supreme gentleness. Not for the squeamish. This film is going to become a cult classic.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This is an interesting work in the film noir/gangster genre. The story
has to do with the bad blood between father and son, played out over
one night in Sao Paulo. The tone and mood of the movie seem to
reference many more famous, high profile films that deal with the same
topic matter. This one seems very interested in stylization over
telling a completely coherent story. And its this stylization that sets
it above regular crime dramas.
Bredan Fraser plays the loser, coke addicted son without any fear of looking bad. HIs performance is very emotional and wild. Not easy for any actor to pull off. His character is a villain without any morals. Made that way by his father, Scott Glenn, an initially likable, sympathetic sort, who, as the tale unravels, is not so nice a guy after all.
By far, the film's hero, Mos Def (the only hero because everyone else is evil or not big enough to really know) gives a winning, career defining performance as a Nigerian immigrant who, out of loyalty to his employer, agrees to partake in a drug deal. The "raptor" gives a nuanced, thoroughly believable performance as wemba in maybe his best role as a film actor.
The other big star of the film are the colors. The nighttime images and camera. It appears to be heavily saturated and grainy and apparently enhanced through the DI process. Cinematographer aficionados will surely want to see this for the interesting lighting.
If the film has a flaw, I would cite an overall bleak and hateful tone of the script. Very anti- human being. The violence feels almost gratuitous with some shots of face slashing feeling too long or ultimately unnecessary. The squeamish will look away! But nothing very troublesome compared to the gore in the horror genre.
Recommended to those who like dark material.
A Director Searching for his Signature, March 3, 2007 Reviewer: Grady
Harp (Los Angeles, CA United States) - See all my reviews
For those of us who found much to admire and appreciate in Eric Eason's 2002 little powerhouse of a film MANITO that placed Franky G in the limelight as a sound actor inside that hunky exterior, the release of JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT held much promise. Unfortunately with moving into the arena of 'major features' with popular big actors in a script that is deeply in need of surgery proves a step too quickly taken. While it is easy to see Eason's intentions in this very dark (literally!) film, it is compulsively doctored with phony 'reality ideas' that misfire.
The basic story is a family of Americans who are deeply involved in the crime scene (brothels) of São Paulo, Brazil, intricately bound in their crime acts but both planning to escape the quagmire of the dingy life of the city and return to America. The father Sinatra (Scott Glenn) is living with Angie (Catalina Sandino Moreno - the star of 'Maria Full of Grace') and they have a small child: Sinatra's son Paul (Brendan Fraser) is also in love with Angie and plans an escape from the dregs of Sao Paulo after he manages to work a drug pass engineered by his father. The sale is to Nigerians who speak Yoruba and when the 'messenger' meant to pass the drugs for the money abruptly dies in a brothel with a transgender prostitute, the panic begins: who can make the pass that night? Sinatra hires a Nigerian, Yoruba speaking dishwasher Wemba (Mos Def) who agrees to take the drugs to the drop site and it seems Wemba is the only decent character to keep his bargain and his word. Paul is enraged with the death of the original middleman and ends up disfiguring the prostitute present at his death. The drug deal falls into problems, Paul is unable to convince Angie to stand by him (which mean leaving Paul's father and the possible endangerment of her son), and things bog down plot-wise so that story ultimately ends with the only persons to care about are Angie and Wemba.
Eason makes his story all happen in one night and the constant factor is a greenish darkness that hides almost everything - and that may be a good thing! The script is Swiss cheese, the acting is for the most part sadly directed, the cast is poorly chosen, and the only real redeeming factor is the chance to watch Mos Def continue to flesh out his career with well executed character roles. Eric Eason holds much promise as a director (he was the awarded best emerging filmmaker by first annual Tribeca Film Festival in New York City in 2002), so perhaps this excursion into the 'big screen realm' can be forgiven as overstepping his material. In the end JOURNEY TO THE END OF THE NIGHT is hopefully just a sidestep for a director who obviously has considerable talent. Grady Harp
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
It's interesting that so many people either rated this movie a 9-10 or
a 1-2. I would suggest that those at the high end were dazzled by the
setting and those at the low end were disappointed by the hodgepodge of
what occurred there. I can't get excited enough to go to either
I agree with those who said that Brazil was unused except perhaps as a marketing tool for the movie. There was virtually no interaction with the local culture except as a passive backdrop. The acting was uninspired. I didn't think Def was all that great, although at least he underplayed his pathetic role, unlike Fraser who was over the top to the point of ridiculous. In fact the only character that seemed decently played was the relatively obscure blind seer.
The plot was full of holes, disjointed, and had no twists of any note. While others have detailed some of the major problems, I would add in the assertion that thieves set upon Def, knock him out, and then ignore the backpack laying next to him and run off without it. And he lays there in what appears to be a high crime district for quite some time and nobody chances by to see what might be in the backpack. You also have to swallow a gang packing all manner of weaponry who decides who they deal with and don't deal with based on which Nigerian dialect they speak. How's that again? I can make a million dollars doing a drug deal with you but only if you speak a specific language from my home country. Otherwise, the deal is off. Right. Then we have Def with a suitcase full of cash but unable to make a phone call. It wasn't clear why that might be exactly, but he never asks anyone for change, tries to change one of the bills in the pack, or does anything else to make what is supposed to be a critical call. Someone said he was cast in a racist and degrading role. I don't know about that, but he certainly seemed to be playing a character who was just plain stupid and unassertive. Quite a contrast with Hitchhiker, in which he was the hip insider. I'll take the latter.
Still, there was some action, enough of a plot not to fall asleep on, a few bizarre characters of passing interest, some gore, a touch of sadism, interesting lighting at times ... I didn't fast forward it at any point.
Mediocre but sufficiently entertaining to keep your attention. See it if the alternative is reruns on TV.
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