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Mystic River (2003)
Gifted Actors, Gifted Director: Great Movie
There are some films which are destined to be mediocre no matter how much talent you throw at them. This was not one of them. This is a great film.
The movie explores childhood, friendship, marriage, family and tragedy and yet is not about anyone of those things nor the sum of those things exactly.
Each performance is fine tuned. Sean Penn is so convincing as to be unnerving at times. Tim Robbins is subtle yet might be the most powerful of all of the performances. Kevin Bacon's performance is very strong as is Laurence Fishburne's. All of the female roles are fine and true to the movie.
Even the setting of the movie plays a role, almost like a character. I have seen films that I have liked better but I don't think I have ever seen a better film.
I highly recommend this film but a word to the wise (mild spoiler). This is NOT a Saturday night, feel good or first date film. You will want to talk about this movie after you see it. And probably not to someone you just met.
Better Than You Might Expect
I will admit my bias' right up front. I am an unabashed Sam Jackson fan and I like action films.
The structure of this film was very good as compared to others in the genre. Without spoiling it for those who have not seen it, the basic story is that an international fugitive offers a huge amount of money to whom ever can break him out and get him out of the hands of the authorities.
Well, that invitation does not go unheeded. S.W.A.T. is called into action.
The character development was superior as compared to many action films. The motivation of the majority of the characters is very clear and makes sense. The actors were very effective.
I think that Clark Johnson is becoming a fantastic director. He is a very accomplished actor and his transition through the direction of many episodes of top notch TV dramas is evident in this film.
I doubt that anyone will give this film an Academy Award however taken for what it is, an action film, I gave it a nine out of ten. I enjoyed watching it, I wanted to know what was going to happen next to the characters and that is how I want to feel at the end of a film.
I Am Sam (2001)
Impressive Performances all around
I had avoided this movie for a couple of years for a few reasons. First and foremost I am not a Sean Penn fan. I thought that he was excellent in Dead Man Walking but beyond that I was totally unimpressed. Secondly, I was concerned that the subject of mentally challenged parents might be given a gloss over. The subject is difficult with few easy answers. I thought that there was no way that a movie would explore more than one side of the issue.
I stand corrected! Sean Penn's performance was the most true performace I have ever seen of a mentally challenged person(Including those given by the mentally challenged). There were so many layers to his performance, nuances that just pulled you right in.
The subject was explored in a way I didn't think possible in a movie that also entertained. It was not just a romanticized look at the challenges of parenting. This movie got it's hands dirty. All the better for us.
In conclusion, if you avoided this movie on purpose or just didn't get around to it it is worth the time. Be warned it was a three hankie movie for me
Far from Heaven (2002)
A beautiful blast from the past
The story was beautiful. The production values were the best that I have ever seen. The costumes were just fantastic. The ending was a bit of a let down but it was still one of the best films I have seen. It was almost like a beautiful old movie made with today's technology.
What a Stinker!
I don't know why human beings tend to embrace the talented even when they create a movie which is self-indulgent and dull. Take the movie Adaptation. Or if you are smart leave it. If this movie had been written by Susan Who, was directed by Joe Jonze, and stared Nick Nobody, it would have been reviewed for what it was. It was self-indulgent drivel.
I was never once engaged in this movie, I didn't care what happened to the characters and I should have turned it off after 20 minutes. I didn't. I watched the entire movie.
In my humble opinion just don't. You won't have missed a thing.