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13 reviews in total 
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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:
A Nice and Derivative Cop and Robbers Thriller., 1 April 2013

This movie rips off virtually every great cop thriller in the history of cinema. Maybe that's the point, if you take from the best you're bound to get a few things right.

James McAvoy plays a smart and determined rookie detective who almost takes down the "Big Bad" robber, played by Mark Strong, only to get shot and disgraced. Now a new case three years later brings these two back together and that cop is looking for payback and redemption. A few surprises come up along the way.

The acting is solid, especially from McAvoy as the obsessed/damaged cop and Strong as his wily nemesis. Great good guy/bad guy chemistry between them. And fine support from David Morrissey as McAvoy's smarmy boss and Peter Mullan as Strong's old friend and partner.

The action is well done and choreographed. The direction, photography and editing are all top-notched.

Eran Creevy did a great job directing this cast and crew but failed to give us something fresh. Maybe next time he should work with another screenwriter to polish and refine his vision.

With a less derivative script we might have gotten a much better film. As it stands, it's a "paint-by-numbers" that's really well done and highly entertaining.

Worth your time.

Newlyweds (2011)
6 out of 10 people found the following review useful:
This is how an "indie" is made!, 16 January 2012

Though I've spent much of my life enjoying and at times worshiping Woody Allen I've never actually related to his film's characters. But I did relate to the people in this film by Ed Burns. I enjoyed the drama and laughed my ass off at the realities of it all. And the low budget, shot on a shoestring, added to the charm.

The film has a simple premise, a newlywed couple spend a couple of days of drama with the wacky in-laws and then must come to terms with their own relationship and it's newly discovered quirks.

I love the in camera, documentary-style confessions of the characters. It allows for added depth and contrast to what the audience sees. And the performances are dead on. No wooden acting. Very fresh and real dialog with a quick moving story.

The last Ed Burns' film I saw was She's The One, and then after seeing Confidence I kinda lost track of him. I am glad I saw this film, just to know that he's still doing quality stories. Now I gotta go back and see what I've missed.

Highly recommended to those who miss the character and heart in the current big budget crap coming out of Hollywood. Kudos to Ed Burns and crew.

11-11-11 (2011)
3 out of 8 people found the following review useful:
A decent indie thriller/horror., 9 November 2011

A lot of negative early feedback has forced my hand in defending this film. It's not that bad and I was actually engaged in the story almost to the end.

The biggest complaint is in the acting department. The main leads weren't bad, but the supporting cast barely held on--a similar issue I had with Repo and Saw II, two of Bousman's better films.

Now the plot is fairly original, if somewhat predictable. And I know the religious themes have been done to death, but most horror films end up going down that path. This film simply puts religion front and center. But it is far from a pro-Christian film like "The Rite" or "The Exorcist". The subject matter is more akin to "Lord of Illusions" or "The Ninth Gate".

The plot: Basically, a famous author after having suffered a horrible tragedy and now in hiding is called to his father's deathbed in Spain. And there he uncovers a predestined fate for his family involving the upcoming date 11-11-11.

The low budget seems to work in this film's favor. Remember when a just a shadow or shape in the dark could scare you? The film relies mostly on the mystery and the setting to provide the horror. Only in the last act do "actual" things happen. The CGI effects are fairly bad, but thankfully conservatively used. It's nice for a change to have a horror film try and scare us without grossing us out.

The last act is quite poor, unfortunately. The big setup from the first hour leads us into a predictable and kinda overdone ending. I prefer my conclusions to be either more subtle or more surprising.

I respect what Bousman is doing with these less commercial, indie horror films. He tries out new things with low budgets and seems to get his vision across. I'd rather continue to watch films like this and Repo over the crap that other "visionaries" like Shyamalan have been doing lately with much more money.

With some better acting and a tighter ending it could've ended up a minor classic. As it stands, a nice film.

Hanna (2011)
1 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Where's the brain when you need it?, 10 May 2011

Now I may sound a little jaded, but I like my movies about ass kicking teenage girls to do more than kick ass. I want them to surprise me with intelligence too.

Simple plot summary. A teenage girl (Saoirse Ronan) is raised in the arctic by her ex-spy father (Eric Bana) to be an assassin. She is then sent on a mission to infiltrate the CIA and kill her father's arch enemy (Cate Blanchett). Sounds like it might be cool, right? A classic case of squandering potential.

Apart from the opening few scenes where everything kinda clicks, this movie plods on from one illogical character decision/plot point to the next. Why does a teenager who can hunt and kill efficiently and without remorse all of a sudden feel the need to run away from ALL fights after the first 20 minutes of film or so? Why do mercenaries/agents sent to kill these trained assassins leave their guns at home and instead decided to fight it out hand to hand or with whatever weapon they find laying around? How does a girl raised in the wilderness with no experience with electricity somehow manage to access and use with amazing results a search engine at an web café? etc...

I have the answer--lazing writing.

If the film stays busy enough maybe we won't have time to think about these things--Wrong! The directer (Joe Wright) approached this film with a German new wave style (ala Run Lola Run) and it's cool. The acting by the main three characters is solid with some decent supporting work as well. And the action scenes especially at the beginning work really well. We're just left with way too many holes and inconsistencies to keep the film from greatness.

If you can check your brain at the door you might enjoy this film. But if you were looking from a smart thriller like the Bourne films you're going to be mighty disappointed.

Embargo (2010)
8 out of 11 people found the following review useful:
A quirky, imaginative fable., 31 March 2011

People have compared this film about a man who gets "stuck" in his car to the Coen brothers. But I found the pacing and symbolism more in line with a Jim Jarmusch creation--with a little David Lynch thrown in.

The story is a simple one. A poor inventor struggles to get his invention sold while balancing a crappy job and trying to keep from failing his family. And just when he's about to get his big break something odd happens--he literally gets stuck in his car.

The film starts out showing us what someone might do to get his dreams realized. In the end the film ends up showing us what that same person would be willing to sacrifice to keep his life intact and his promises kept. Along the way we get a few interesting characters and strange little moments of clarity.

The acting is mostly well done. The direction is good and at times brilliant. The pacing is deliberate--it takes the time to let us experience each scene and the emotions felt. Again very reminiscent of classic Jarmusch like "Mystery Train" and "Broken Flowers".

Don't expect a comedy with lots laughs. There are a few genuine laughs, but this is a somber film with little dialog and action. Not a great film, but a good one. A modern day Aesop fable.

Inception (2010)
2 out of 4 people found the following review useful:
Not the movie you think it is!, 23 July 2010

I went into this film expecting a sci-fi/thriller concept film ala "The Matrix". And although this film's pseudo-science and visual spectacle initially reaffirm this expectation, the end result ends up having more in common with "The Sting" than anything sci-fi.

The performances are all very strong, especially Tom Hardy as a Brit-grunge spy. The direction is tight and the screenplay completes all the necessary plot points by the film's end--even if the plot seems incomprehensible at times. The production values; from the costumes, the international locations, the lush and sometimes bleak sets and the over-top special effects are all near perfection. But wrapped up inside this gloriously grandiose package is a nice little con-game film.

Basically a bunch of guys conspire through elaborate means to convince someone of something that isn't and make sure the get-away is clean. The fact that it all takes place in one's dreams is the sweetness in the cake. And, of course, the audience is engagingly left to sort through the various actions, motives, and sub-plots to find order in the chaos.

Christopher Nolan has already proved his chops with high-concept films like "Memento" and "The Prestige" so it's really no surprise that this big-budget film is a success. Thankfully the more bankable "Batman" films have given his ideas room to breathe and every extra penny shows on the screen.

Now the little issues. First--Cillian Murphy's character, the 'mark', is an unworthy opponent. He provides almost no challenge to the characters and their scheme. This leaves a film without an antagonist. Leading to my second problem--the only obstacles to these characters is the baggage they themselves bring to the various tasks at hand, particularly Leonardo DiCaprio's Cobb. It makes the entire film more a study on his neurosis than any real challenge presented by the story. Not to say there isn't any conflict resolution, there is in perfect things-gone-awry fashion. Just that Cobb and his merry men could've gone to group therapy instead?!

Overcome these small issues and sit back and enjoy the ride. This film is the best of it's kind since "The Sting".

43 out of 57 people found the following review useful:
A twisted Devito-like comedy., 25 December 2009

If you enjoy films like "War of the Roses", you should like this one.

Basically this is a love-triangle story about a man (Tim Hutton) whose planning on leaving his wife (Meg Ryan) of 14 years for a much younger woman (Kristin Bell). The wife doesn't respond well and much inappropriate behavior follows.

Not much depth is written into these people but Ryan and Hutton do a rather spectacular job with their roles anyway. Special notice should be given to Justin Long's cameo as a thug. He seems to relish his small 'against type-cast' role. Unfortunately, Kristin Bell bores us with her very two-dimensional performance.

The plot tidies itself up rather too quickly from this twisted story, but at least we're not left with an overly long film. And the first hour is one of the darkest hours of film I've ever seen--in a good way.

If you've seen Adrienne Shelly's (the writer) other film, "Waitress", you'll be familiar with the style of this film. "Waitress" is a more complete movie with much more depth. However, Cheryl Hines--who took over for Shelly after her untimely death--does a commendable job.

I'm saddened to realize this will be the last work we see from the mind of Adrienne Shelly. As it stands, it's not a bad way to be remembered. A writer/director who had a flair for gracefully exploring people's darkest emotions and desires.

And no, I'm not just saying this because I'm strapped to a toilet!

P.S. This film is not a date flick;)

4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:
Timeless, A Classic Whose Time Will Come., 11 March 2009

Many films get made with such passion and craft but get simply released at the wrong time. We look upon Classic films, and forget that many of these great pictures flopped in their era. Neither the critics nor the audiences grasped the intent and strength of those stories and the way in which those stories were told. But years later through cable, VHS, DVD, and Blu-Ray we've been given an opportunity to reappraise films like "Meet Joe Black".

This film should've been a no-brainer. With up-and-comer Brad Pitt and Academy Award winner Anthony Hopkins holding the leads audiences should've run to the cinemas. But, alas, a three hour long love story/drama proved too daunting for a 1998 audience.

The story is a simple yet elegant fairytale. Death (Pitt) takes the body of a man and needs a guide (Hopkins) through a life away from his responsibilities. And along the way Death finds what he's been missing, love.

This is old-school film making. When a director was allowed to take his time to tell a story, to let his characters and dialog breathe. The actors are all superb. The photography, the design, and the costumes are top-notch. The settings are absolutely grand. And the score by Thomas Newman is one of the best he's ever done. And there is no hint of digital trickery. The film could've easily been made in Hollywood's golden era.

And I feel as more people see this, and recognize the timelessness of it's themes of love and life, it will become the classic it deserves to be. A modern day "The Bishop's Wife".

11 out of 16 people found the following review useful:
Much better than expected--nice "graphic novel" type genre film, 1 June 2008

Note: these comments refer to the "unrated" 122 min. cut of the film.

Went into this DVD expecting the worst--lame horror/porn. What a surprise! It's not only good, it's one of the better of the genre over the last 10 years or so.

The vampires are never referred to as vampires, it's simply called a "condition". Typical mythology like mirrors, immortality, drinking human blood, arrow through the heart, and "daylight problems" still exist. But these creatures are not super human, their only true gift is immortality.

The characters are well designed around the actors who play them. Lucy Liu plays a reporter looking into "goth" cults and finding more than she bargained for. Her performance shows some nice range, especially during the early part of the story during her discovering the truth about herself. Michael Chiklis plays a tough, vengeful, hard drinking cop--a role he's perfected. Carla Gugino has a small role as the femme fatale (surprise, surprise) but gives us a taste of the human being behind the monster. And long time character actor Mako, in his last role:(, portrays a disturbing and charming familiar-like character who's part butler, part mentor. Even Robert Forster shows up for a cameo, I really wanted more of him in this film. The rest of the cast works well, no real turkeys here.

The plot is really the weakest link, a typical revenge thriller. But the out-of-sequence editing (the director's unrated version) is spot-on. And the production values are quite strong. Writer/director Sebastian Gutierrez, the guy who wrote "Snakes on a Plane", gives us cliché-ridden, hokey dialog and we forgive him for it because it's often tongue-in-cheek funny. The nudity/sex is downplayed, much less of it here than in the Underworld films. I prefer these less romanticized versions of vampires, they're creatures who take what they want--love never factors into it. All in all a good "graphic novel" type movie--with average substance but great style.

What sucks is that theatrical release was apparently poorly cut, and it performed badly at the box-office. So the nice set-up for a sequel is probably wasted.

So final verdict--7 out of 10. Better than Underworld 2 and Blade 3. Underworld and Blade 1 and 2 still trump it, however. A good rental for genre/Lucy Liu fans.

0 out of 2 people found the following review useful:
Coen's most mature masterpiece!, 4 January 2008

It's almost like, after all their films the Coen brothers have finally had their "Saving Private Ryan". This film has none of the illusions of youth present in all of their previous work.

The characters make up the story, the plot is almost irrelevant. Each character has a small story to tell, and the plot just moves along between these little stories. The actors playing each character do a near perfect job. Not any one stand-out performance amongst such great performances.

The bitterness, joy, sorrow, greed, love, hope, despair in the lives of these people give way to the sort of randomness that life brings all of us. Everything that defines our journey left up to a coin toss. I can't stress how much this film showcases that life and death is often left to chance and luck.

Jim Jarmusch has been doing these kind of films for years, hopefully now those films will start to resonate with audiences as well as this film has. Somewhere along the way filmmakers decided that the story mattered more than the characters. Most of those filmmakers are wrong.

Maturity comes at a cost, however. The humor and absurdity so apparent in previous Coen films is almost completely gone. What's left is tragedy on a Shakespearen level. Don't expect a "Fargo" or "Raising Arizona". You won't feel good after the movie's over. There is no sense that justice is done and that "good" prevailed over "evil".

I've seen thousands of films, and I now have a new entry into my top ten. Go see this film, buy/rent the DVD. You will be in awe of this masterly crafted film.

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