Change Your Image
Upload An Image
Crop And Save
The Holy Land (2001)
One of the best I've seen in a long time
Themes of love and trust, played out against a backdrop the horror of which doesn't become clear until the film's final moments, are told in a way that never becomes as predictable as anticipated. Who is the one who really loves? Who is the one who is really honest? This is that increasingly rare jewel: a thought-provoking movie. It is impossible that anyone who actually watches the movie as it unfolds could conclude that it is pro-Palestinian.
The deeply pleasing result of many talents
The truths explored in `Sonny' are not easily accessible to those who have never faced the choice that faces Sonny Phillips: whether to `square up,' or continue in a life style with extremely limited options, and little room for growth. Many who are born into a life of prostitution never seriously consider leaving it, most who have never experienced that life style are unaware of the dishonesties and injustices inherent in living on their more socially-acceptable middle-class level. The story sums up neatly: Sonny comes home after a stint in the army with the goal of leaving behind his former life style as a male prostitute. His mother, Jewel, who turned him out when he was twelve years old, now lives off of Carol, a beautiful young whore who has Sonny's old bedroom. Jewel wants to keep Sonny with her, and have him work as a team with Carol.
Somehow, 26-year-old James Franco is able to tap into a wellspring of emotional depth to show the anguish attendant in the decision Sonny tries to make and honor. Somehow, Nicolas Cage was able to lead him to it. What these two have accomplished should not be overlooked or undervalued. `Sonny' is a magnificent achievement. It is a movie that explores many themes, paramount among them that each of us is worthy of love, capable of innocence and growth. Real affection can be found in the unlikeliest of places, respect shows itself in many ways, trust is fragile, and love doesn't protect anyone from anything. Franco's performance could be considered nothing short of miraculous, if it weren't known how hard-working an actor he is. This range of talent hasn't been seen since 1955; his slight frame belies his power, and his smile is an endearing joy. Mena Suvari, as his love-interest, Carol, is also an unexpected delight, bringing to mind nothing so much as Carroll Baker's performance in `Baby Doll.' Her combination of innocence and sexuality is reminiscent of Marilyn Monroe's, and it's nice that someone is on the scene to keep that flame alive. Also noteworthy is Brenda Vaccaro as Meg, an old trick of Sonny's who's eager to spend time with him again. She brings a warmth and generosity to a role that could seem ludicrous in a lesser actress. Not least among all these terrific talents is Brenda Blethyn as Sonny's mother Jewel. Although her southern accent seems questionable, it's difficult to think of another actress who could make someone who's done something this despicable to her child, seem genuine and likable. As her friend, Harry Dean Stanton also pulls off something unexpected, bringing depth of character to someone whose occupation as a shoplifter could otherwise lead us to think of as shallow. But it is a director's vision that pulls a movie together, and Nicolas Cage is to be heartily and enthusiastically commended for what he's accomplished here. `Sonny' is a wonderful movie.
What could be less enthralling than watching a conversation?
Those unable to carry on simple conversations and who are unused to being honest with themselves and/or their friends might be able to feel a connection to this singularly uninvolving non-drama. Since it's impossible to care about any of the characters, whether or not an actual rape occurred ten years previously is a matter of indifference. More than anything else, this movie seems to be the result of a writer showing off his vocabulary, a masturbatory exercise that forces viewers into the role of reluctant voyeurs of inconsequential crimes.
My Friend's Love Affair (2001)
A movie for people who don't mind living real lives
The story of MFLA is simple and easy to tell; yet it manages to get to the core of how difficult it can be to form a meaningful adult connection.
John and Mary work in the same office. They get along well, and talk about the difficulty, as divorced adults, each is having in trying to socialize with others in any meaningful way. One night they run into each other at a Woody Allen double feature. Soon, they are having a relationship they must keep secret from their co-workers: a romantic attachment at work means certain dismissal. This situation provides the groundwork for an unexpected sense of the comedic. The performances are so natural, it seems more like watching real people rather than actors. The characters are credible, and there is nothing contrived about this movie. In fact, the story is so firmly grounded in reality that it may not provide the escapism that many look for in a movie. As well, it's realism is not of the grim despair that attracts the art house crowds. It's a comedy for people who don't mind living real lives.
The sweet naturalness of John and Mary, and their friends at work, expresses an unexpectedly subtle vulnerability that makes one feel emotionally naked. This effect is practically subliminal, and is one of the movie's strengths. Another is the dialogue, which is clean, clear, and brings us quickly to what's important in each person's life.