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Inside Man (2006)
A great New York film, a thriller with NYC ironic humor!
Reading the mixed reviews posted here I wonder if you have to possess that special brand of irony with which New Yorkers are imbued, a sense of humor in the face of disaster or the threat of it anyway, if you're going to 'get' this movie. Spike Lee and his phenomenal cast (besides the incomparable Denzel, Clive, Jodie and Chris, there's a rich gathering of NY character actors and 'real people') deliver the tragi-comic nuances of an adventure where perception is continually being altered by circumstances that look one way while the full dimensions of the actual reality hide in plain sight until the very end. The dialogue is as savvy and witty as I've heard in a long time. I think a really big clue to appreciating this film is the understanding that everyone, no matter what their pay grade (Foster refers to Washington's as a means of putting him in his place--she changes her view completely by film's end), takes actions according to their perceptions and everyone therefore can fail to see what is directly in front of them. Everyone makes what in movie plot terms are stupid mistakes, but what in real life terms are manifestations of a tragic flaw in consciousness. And people can wise up sometimes, as some do in this film.
I recently watched the film again, and what fun it was to see the set-ups realizing exactly what they meant. Or at least I had a better idea! Great film, don't miss it.
Followup on this comment:
I should also have mentioned Chiwetel Ejiofor and Willem Dafoe, also outstanding.
The Sopranos: Made in America (2007)
Why did they go there?
What was Tony thinking? Phil's dead, so I can go anywhere? The family restaurant made for a good set-up for Chase, but to put the Sopranos there with Tony looking anxious every time the door opened--if he were that anxious, why didn't he suggest take-out at home--looks like hubris on someone's part. So the last scene, with or without the cable outage length cut to black, seems poorly motivated.
The scenes with Paulie and the cat were tremendous, LOL funny. Ditto AJ's political views--especially his assertion about Bush and Al Quaeda, followed closely by his giggling at Bush in a comedic moment on TV. The scene with Junior and Janice where he calls her Livia, then sees the picture of her child and calls her Janice. Many wonderful moments throughout.
But the ending seemed self-conscious.
So Many Miracles (1987)
Deeply moving true story of survivors, full of humor and above all, love
Here is a true story of the survival of two originals, Frania and Israel Rubinek, told by their son, actor and writer Saul Rubinek. The documentary focuses on a return to Poland for a reunion with the family in whose tiny basement room the Rubineks were hidden during the war. The film takes us on a journey through the Rubinek's darkest times, near discovery and their ultimate emergence, seen through the eyes of their son, whose gratitude for his parents' very lives is abundantly clear in every frame: their strength, courage, wit, humor, and above all, their abiding love of each other. As Frania relates towards the end of the film, Barry Levinson had seen an earlier version of it at the time he was casting "Avalon" (and looking for European actors). Both were cast in the film, fulfilling Israel's youthful dream of acting (he had acted in Poland), and Frania later appeared in Levinson's "Liberty Heights." I was fortunate indeed to catch this beautiful film on public television years ago--I do hope there are plans to make it available on DVD. These two were miracles in themselves, and their radiant light shines through in this moving tribute.
And could they tell funny stories! Unforgettable. Thank you, Saul, for sharing your wonderful parents and their story with the world.
Excellent! Best Elvis ever!
Jonathan Rhys-Meyers is without doubt the most convincing Elvis since, well, the King himself. He looks like him, sounds like him (swell accent and Elvis's singing he lip-syncs flawlessly), and m-o-v-e-s like him! Simply fantastic work. Gorgeous raw talent at first blossoms before our eyes into the one and only Elvis. Rhys-Meyers is the first actor with the charisma to pull this off--it's a total, tour-de-force performance. Hope we see it on DVD! The brilliant script for this mini-series by Patrick Sheane Duncan and James Steven Sadwith (and directed by Sadwith) tells a spellbinding story, even the most extraordinary and outrageous aspects of the King's discovery are completely believable. John Lennon said it, "before Elvis there was nothing." This is the first time since Elvis himself we get to see what Lennon meant.
Million Dollar Baby (2004)
Straight from the heart
A love story of uncommon beauty, written with daring simplicity, acted with unflinching honesty by each and every player in it, directed by a master storyteller.
No question about its being a tough experience to watch, but this film has many pleasures, not the least of which is the depth of love and joy expressed by the main characters, despite the heartbreaking challenges they must face. Eastwood, Swank and Freeman are tuned to the same devastating emotional string--that Eastwood delivers such a performance while also directing the picture is nothing short of an artistic miracle.
The film is aptly named, its title reminds us of an old song which plays in our hearts and minds long after the movie is done.
Johnny Depp deserves an Academy Award
The walk, the talk, the eyelashes! Johnny Depp, as a haughty, sashaying, daredevil Cockney pirate, leads a first-rate cast (including a gorgeous parrot and a wild monkey) in a hugely entertaining film. Stay through the end of the credits!
Stunning achievement, Rob Marshall is the real star of "Chicago"
This is the most brilliantly adapted film of a musical ever made, the one against which all musical films will be measured for a long time to come. Rob Marshall's vision of two levels of theatrical reality, one nitty-gritty, the other stylized musical fantasy, is flawlessly executed by a splendid cast, in this highly entertaining movie. What a director! What a choreographer! Pure pleasure awaits you.
The Hours (2002)
Magnificent epic of life and art and the roles people play
Without equal this year, "The Hours" is a devastatingly beautiful film made by a creative team whose theatre experience clearly deepens the cinematic event. From the esteemed playwright David Hare's thrilling screenplay, to Stephen Daldry's exceptionally fine direction, to the remarkable cast, the dimensions of "The Hours" continue to resonate long after you leave the cineplex. This haunting examination of the roles people play, or believe they should or should not play to lead a meaningful life, stands alone this year for sheer emotional intensity and sophisticated thought, which nevertheless has the power to reach anyone willing to have this most profound theatrical experience.
Catch Me If You Can (2002)
Storytelling at its best, sharp, imaginative, authentic film
What a pleasure it is to witness Leonardo DiCaprio's tour-de-force performance in this perfect gem of a film. Spielberg and his top-flight team have created a delightful reconstruction of the era and Abagnale's bizarre cruise through it, making use of a stylized humor while maintaining a faithfulness to the period's look, feel, manner of speech and most especially, the music. Tremendous fun.
About Schmidt (2002)
Beautiful work! Witty and clear-eyed look at the meaning of life.
Jack Nicholson's masterful performance in this film is not to be missed, his work is exquisite in every detail, and the rest of the cast supports him beautifully, especially Kathy Bates who adds another glorious star to her acting crown. The script dares to parade a series of Midwestern cliches before us, but with the intent of giving us a study in contrasts as Schmidt (Nicholson) begins to see life with clearer eyes. The Midwest casting agents deserve an award for their work, as well the direction of this miraculous and moving film.