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Elvis & Nixon (2016)
Exciting premise flawed execution
I am a history buff and grew up during the 70s, thus I had high expectations for this movie. Now, I haven't read as much about Presley as I have about Nixon but there's a stark contrast between Shannon's performance and Spacey's.
I have been a huge fan of Kevin for the last 30 years but here I felt completely let down. No Kevin you cannot get away with portraying Nixon as a comedic variation of Frank Underwood. For that you would have to wait for President Trump (God forbid...). The man was not all easy mannerisms and whining. Nor is a good imitation of grimaces and voice tone enough. If you want to create laughs for the more learned audience for which this movie is intended, you have to be more nuanced than that. In the Oliver Stone movie, Anthony Hopkins did not focus on the pitch perfect imitation but conveyed perfectly the mixture of gravitas and tortured soul of this interesting but ultimately flawed man. On the other hand I found Shannon's performance fascinating. Without any hint of overdoing it, he makes us feel in the gut both empathy and utter dismay for his Elvis. He's both the good ol' American boy who wants to make his mum proud and a total wreck in progress. Effortlessly he steals away the scenes. Overall, I still would recommend this movie for fans of the period while reckoning that it could have been so much more.
Harry Brown (2009)
You're not likely to forget this movie
I've been watching movies for the last 40 years but I've never seen and felt anything like this. Simple story you might think: Michael Caine as an old vigilante avenging his best pal. Sort of Get Carter of 2009. But as much as I liked that movie, this one is a much more memorable experience.
The movie takes you by the guts from the first minute, long before any violence erupts. You just feel viscerally the despair. It works because everything is so real; the images shock with the simple ugliness of Britain's suburbs, the music magnificently enhances the mood created by Barber and sir Michael is at the summit of his art.
Just watching Michael Caine's face is something you cannot describe. Sir Michael continues the line of fantastic British actors who have continued to up their game well into old age (Laurence Olivier, Charles Laughton come to mind). He still has the ambition to make a difference and his work is not just an example for aspiring actors but I believe for all of us.
Now, some might say that the morality of the movie is that only the vigilantes might save us. Just watch the movie; the dinosaur vigilante, the moral conscience of the movie (Emily Mortimer excellent as usual) drowned by the overwhelming prevalence of mediocrity and you'll know. There is no simple message; just life, the mistakes we make and that we pass on to our future generations.
Clash of the Titans (2010)
This film would have been in line with Louis Leterrier's previous work: highly enjoyable high octane action movies that even adults can appreciate. Then somewhere along the lines, the greedy and short sighted producers decided to cash-in a meager few extra bucks by "converting" into 3D a movie shot in 2D. The result is fake at best with fuzzy, dark and double edged images. For most of the movie you'll feel the urge to remove your glasses. Too bad for the decent cast (special kudos to Mads Mikkelsen as usual), nice photography and music by a promising newcomer Ramin Djawadi. Bottom line: Recommended 2D, Disaster in 3D Not everybody is James Cameron.
The Kingdom (2007)
A shaky camera doesn't make for a lack of story
Another one of these films with the nauseating camera work that tries to be a substitute for an interesting plot. The "story" per se is the hollywod predictable concoction with the obligatory minimal "humanization" of the arabs to pass the discrimation test. Jennifer Garner was just the female quota of the film without a single shred of female behavior except for the silly emotional moments when confronted with images of death (she's supposed to be an elite FBI anti terrorism agent) Even the super talented Jamie Foxx is a disappointment just going through the motions. Been there done that... Pure Hollywood routine, they didn't even shoot some interesting images of the arab desert.
Discovery Atlas: Italy Revealed (2006)
Expected to see Italy and saw several Italians' challenge
As we prepared for a trip to Italy, we bought this blu ray and were looking forward to a first glimpse on some nice spots in Italy and some ideas on what we could add to our "must see" list. "Italy Revealed" was very far from achieving that. There are a few nice images about parts of Italy (in the north the Alps, in the south Sicily and aerial views of Venice, Siena and very shortly of Rome). The main subject of this film though is to follow a few Italians' life targets like winning in a competition, acquiring a job or trying to lead successfully a fashion oriented family business. The few images on Venice, Siena, Rome and the mountains cannot in any measure stand to explain the choice of the title this film was given. In addition and sadly, instead of bringing a positive note to the production, Isabella Rossellini's somehow harsh voice as the narrator, fails to gain the viewer in a last effort to save the documentary.
Not even Jason Statham can save this wreckage
I went to watch this movie because I like Jason Statham and wanted to enjoy a fast paced action flick. Everything fails in this one. From the first images you feel like you have been conned to watch a cheap video camera reel shot by a student. The music is annoying and the dialog is a compilation of the "worse of you've heard before a thousand times". Most of all, the worse aggravation are the bad guys. They usually make or break this kind of flick; here they are played by a bunch of untalented actors going over the top trying to mimic what has been done before by their betters with no clue or direction on how to achieve that.
The Bourne Supremacy (2004)
Bourne betrayed by the camera ...
I was one of the many that immensely enjoyed the first Bourne and had been expecting to see this one for months.
One of the things that made the first one so successful was the obvious pleasure the director had to shoot in all these nice locations in Europe. Although the locations are still quite exciting, the splendid cinematography has been replaced by a grim and dull photography.
The major low point of the movie though is the shooting of the actions scenes, and there are many. The use of the hand-held camera and excessive close ups is used to the point of nauseating the audience. There is no way you want to watch a fight or car chase like that again. Too bad for the cast - especially Matt Damon and Joan Allen - who give an impressive performance. The music is also good and helps keep a rhythm and interest, although the story line and character development are quite thin compared to the original.
Overall quite a disappointment. Doug Liman please come back for the Bourne ultimatum ...
Sweet Smell of Success (1957)
Gripping and powerful, amazing cast and dialog
This film really brings an air of nostalgia when you compare it to current productions. There are no special effects or noisy music, but nevertheless you are riveted to your chair form beginning to end thanks to a wonderful cast, dialogue, direction and very nice Jazz music. Burt Lancaster gives again an unbelievable performance and Tony Curtis is perfect in the role of the ambitious small time thug that cannot get rid of his own contradictions. I only wish the studios would stop focusing on the teen market today and get inspired by films like this one.
Mostly artificial and tiring ...
The split display proved to be very tiring to follow. It is definitely not an idea with a future. Although the cast was excellent, the whole project was obviously managed in a very amateur like style, Improvisation was apparent everywhere. The earthquakes idea looked out of place and really silly at moments, the Digital Video images were really sub par.
Overall a great disappointment for a Mike Figgis film.