Reviews written by registered user
|33 reviews in total|
A fast paced thriller like this with lots of background needs some
careful setting up and there wasn't much sophistication in the way it
was done, but it worked surprisingly well considering.
As others have pointed out, there were some pedestrian errors in the props and sets not to mention Tom Bishop's (Brad Pitt) apparently ageless body. Not the director's fault, though he should have spotted at least some of these. Timelines were skewed and there were some glaring historical errors.
The ambitious Charles Harker (Stephen Dillane) drove the plot forward with force so we could compare that with Muir's (Redford) delicate, more productive touch. Muir and Harker had some interesting interplay which was cleverly written, well acted and nicely presented with great camera work, kudos to Tony Scott. Elizabeth Hadley (Cat McCormack) was an effective spanner in the works as the ambiguous go-between though I feel that Tom Bishop (Brad Pitt) took a big risk to get her back when, in a few months she could be back in Beirut. Bishop's difficulty with the harsh realities of his work were a bit thin: he must have known the risks he was taking not just for himself but for others in any way connected with him. Muir's rooftop warning seemed a little late, Muir had more faith in his protégé than he possibly deserved perhaps, but it was well phrased, well delivered and the filming of it worked exceptionally well for its novelty. (According to the DVD extras, Tony Scott stumped up $50k of his own money to pay for the helicopter to film that scene when the backers refused). Robert Redford consistently performs well. Whilst I don't feel he has much range (he's pretty much always Redford in any role) he makes up for it with intelligent shading of nuance. Brad Pitt gets by in a wooden way (nothing normally against him; in Interview With The Vampire, he and Cruise were outstanding) but this role called for nothing more than his usual bag of tricks.
An entertaining film with a nice balance of pacey action and thoughtful dialogue.
Time being short, the film had to step on the gas in several places.
In terms of dialogue and cast, not to mention great camera work, this film is as funny as it's characters are pretentious and phony (very).
Performances were great although Jodie Foster (and John Reilly) best nailed the drunkenness (though to be fair Christoph Waltz' character was running on an empty stomach) by showing that people don't have to be fitshaced to say asinine things or take stands against things they would normally defend.
Penelope's (Foster) veiny neck and extended jaw reminded me of a baby Alien as she spat and wept in her aloof loneliness. Jodie worked very hard in this part, what a trooper.
I liked all the characters, each had a viewpoint that was understandable for them, agreeable or not. The men were typically complacent and even Nancy (Winslet) was beginning to sink into apathy whilst Penelope was clearly only getting started and the crockery in the kitchen began to tremble in fear.
This is a splendidly funny film, though perhaps better watched without 18-year old scotch within reach.
No dead wood in this film, just a great script, great cast and great
Damon's portrayal - based on James Jesus Angleton who, essentially, created the CIA from the OSS - was good in this case as he does stony silence better than most. His quiet unflappable manner spoke of still waters running very deep. The only kind of man for that job. John Turturro's lesser role still allowed him the space to work - the MKULTRA torture scene was difficult to pull off and still have the audience retain a skein of sympathy for Turturro's character. He managed it by convincing me that he was doing a difficult job as gently as possible. Was that a tinge of regret in his eyes? Robert de Niro was, as always, good and it didn't hurt that this role is not so far from the many mafiosi/goodfella type roles he has played in the past, only this time his suit was from an Ivy League tailor. Michael Gambon was brilliant as he fought to balance his loyalty with his duty and the secret that made him too vulnerable for it. "If you want to tie your shoelaces, I'll understand." Since Wilson didn't, Dr. Fredericks did it for him as a touching mark of respect. Alec Baldwin suited his role in this film and pleasantly surprised me with previously unseen gravitas. Interesting cameo from Keir Dullea, not sure why they bothered as he said perhaps three words. Angelina Jolie did well with her character who was pitiably in the wrong marriage, though Daisy's capriciousness was the reason why.
The time-lines were handled well. I tend to dislike choppy flashbacks and out of sequence stuff ever since that tedious Tarantino made it a fashionable gimmick in Pulp Fiction. But here, it works. There's a cleverly subtle washed-out look to the latter day scenes that make the past look more vibrant as only nostalgia can deliver and that helped cue when time-lines switched. It was as though Wilson was becoming disenchanted with the job though, clearly, he was the kind of man who would see it through to the end because he knew it was fundamentally important to his country. Some think the pace was poor but there was a lot of setting up needed to understand how this intricate house of cards came to be. Some think that Damon's character was dull. In a sense that's true; dull because he was so incredibly meticulous which, again, is the lifeblood of the agency. Musclebound thugs and vainglorious have-a-go heroes can be found in any bar in any city on earth. They're the blunt instruments that are precisely what the agency doesn't need except in very rare circumstances where they need a to set a dog to eat a dog.
Technically the film was very easy on the eye, great cinematography and atmospheric sets and lighting placed us right beside Wilson as he learnt his trade and moved his chess pieces. This is the kind of deep plotty Gordian knot that should be sipped and savoured like a tall drink.
In "Nell", Jodie Foster gives, arguably, the best performance of her
life. Clearly, she invested deeply in the role and her genuine strength
and inner beauty shine so brightly into the character that Nell's
beauty and loneliness become completely convincing.
The story is more idealistic than realistic (as allegories are wont to be) which is worth remembering throughout - not least when it comes to the courtroom scene. I appreciated the sentiment of that scene whilst privately wishing it had been a closed hearing (full for a custody hearing?) Despite some ragged plot problems (that USGS wouldn't know about the Kellty homestead, that Nell is in really good health, that the lads who deliver her groceries never appear to discuss the 'strange hermit woman' with anyone, and so on) the story staggers to the finish line with an overly idyllic ending.
Liam Neeson and Natasha Richardson support well locking horns convincingly over which was to become Nell's champion until they realised that Nell wasn't a trophy for an academic white paper. Nell becomes the adopted child, the glue that binds Neeson and Richardson's characters' emotional attachment.
The film has some poetic cinematography and good location. But it is Jodie Foster's ability to play crushingly tender moments (the mirror, the lake, the effective memory) that - I'm happy to admit - still bring me to tears and is why I don't watch it a lot. It's a good film for couples who either have, or want to have, children. When you see it, I hope you'll understand why.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
In this depiction of the Spring of Youth and Wrath of God operations
following the Munich "massacre", we're expected to believe that, with a
heavy heart, the Israelis decide to exact revenge on those responsible.
I'll avoid the topic of historical and ethical clumsiness in this film
because opinions on them abound and this review would become a book.
When Zwaiter fell forward onto his groceries he then magically flipped onto his back for the next view. Judging by the weapons, he was shot with at least .380 cal rounds yet a smaller (.22 centrefire?) calibre cartridge case was picked up. With 10 torso shots (though a grocery bag containing glass vessels of liquid: deflection/retardation) and none to the head, many people could survive.
The film continued it's ineptitude so remorselessly that I only watched to get the thing out of the way. The characters are thin, foolish and laughable, particularly Steve (Daniel Craig) dancing and suggesting they go to Libya to extend their mission. In the scene with Louis (Mathieu Amalric) and Avner (Eric Bana), sensitive topics are discussed in a public place using plain rather than implied language.
If this were just an action-thriller the theatrics and ineptitude would be fine but it's supposed to be a serious topic about an abhorrent government policy and that makes a mockery of its overall intent. Whatever it may be. The point is well enough made but I had little sympathy for Avner by the close of the film. The cast do a passable job, Geoffrey Rush is his usual professional self but Daniel Craig needed to talk to a South African for longer to get his accent right.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Not having read de Beauvoir's book (on which this film is based) my
complaints may be unjust to one or the other.
The pace is uneven, as though chunks of the story were skipped to cut to the milestones. Other films manage to do the same without appearing choppy as this does. Barely has Hélène (Jodie Foster) met Jean (Michael Ontkean) and she is talking about marriage. When he discovers she is pregnant, suddenly the idealistic Jean declares his love for her despite Hélène's transparently manipulative modus.
The overall story is compelling, considering the source this is perhaps unsurprising, and the film tries to do some justice to it. The acting is passable; Ontkean did better than I expected him to do but Jodie did worse than she normally does: this is one of several films she made in her wilderness years of self-doubt, and it shows.
I suspect the unevenness of pace was because the screenplay was a poorly balanced abbreviation of the book.
Some criticisms. Post-production dubs of outdoor scenes sound like they were recorded in a room - obviously they were but didn't need to sound like that - and the audiovisual sync - or lack of it - betrays which segments of the soundtrack these are.
The entire dialogue should have been in French and, since there's no French equivalent (AFAIK), we would have been spared "geddowdahere" from Jodie who speaks near-perfect accent-less French.
The story has great potential, after all it's from a critically acclaimed book, but was ultimately let down by the direction.
The worst moment came, for me, at the end of the film when Jean embraces Hélène thereby moving the bullet in her lung to somewhere even less convivial. Besides being idiocy, it made me want to quietly lead Jean into another room and beat him unconscious.
I saw this on a recommendation without having seen the trailer or
knowing anything about the plot. Hah. A plot with so many flaws
imponderables and requiring such an immense amount of luck and
corruption can best be described as a lunatic fantasy. Be that as it
may. As soon as he came into shot with his soft-spoken axe-murderer
voice and low-blink gaze it was clear that Gene Carson (Peter
Sarsgaard) was up to no good.
Though the acting is passable (no new ground broken by any of the cast), the film has almost no believable plot elements nor consequences. It's a popcorn flick designed to elicit a sympathetic response from any viewers who are parents and who have ever worried about losing their child in a public place (i.e. just about any parent). It highlights the moronic hysteria and government-sponsored racism (profiling is, I believe, their word for it) that followed Sept. 11th attacks, but not in a useful or novel way.
Showing how some would never lose faith in their own viewpoint whilst others would at least entertain the possibility that they had imagined that the daughter was alive when she wasn't worked (barely) only because the parent was a woman. A man couldn't have played that role without being thrown into the sissy basket. (The part was originally written for a man but Foster, by her own admission, suggested she could play it. Then she pocketed her knuckle duster.) Some questions: How can an engineer who works on engines know so much about the airframe and it's electrical system? How come Kyle and her daughter aren't bleeding from every aperture in their head after the concussion of an explosion that should have turned them into gazpacho? But then, how can ... never, mind, it'd take a novel to list the mistakes with this plot ... and I'm not a screenwriter.
Occasionally even Hollywood Royalty backs a blind three-legged nag to win the Derby. The plot seemed to alternate between predictable and utterly ridiculous held together, it seemed, by a fervent belief the the average film-goer could be outwitted by a sanitary pad. As for Jodie's call/pitch to take the role, I don't understand. With immense talent and a high-powered intellect she can work whenever she wants on the films she likes to do. Skip the mohitos in development meetings would be my advice.
Still, she got (well) paid and this drivel made nearly five times back what it cost to make. For anyone with their wallet/seat where their brain should be, it was a hit. No wonder the indie scene is expanding.
Maybe it wasn't really like this in the Old West but this film does
fill me with the hope that at least sometimes it had these moments.
This film is pure entertainment, not a historical documentary and
certainly not, at any point, to be taken seriously. Maverick's (Mel
Gibson's) character as a likable rogue had a surreal and very
believable chemistry with Annabelle Bransford (Jodie Foster) and a
pleasant nod to the "original" maverick that old standby, James Garner.
The humour is firmly tongue-in-cheek and Foster does indeed "do southern" very acceptably and looks as radiant as any woman in the role could. Her unique brand of energy, injured innocence, scheming minxicity (I made that up) and twangy edginess give the part a solid and definitive profile. No man of Maverick's marque (or any other for that matter) could resist chasing a temptress of such charm, beauty and duplicity through a hundred countries to get his money back and would indeed have a wonderful time doing it.
I'm not a Mel Gibson fan but this exceptional part was cast against type and Mel performed very well. As I said, the chemistry between Mel and Jodie is tangible, perhaps because they're close friends off-screen as well.
Garner is solid, if a little pedestrian (don't mistake it for gravitas Mr. G), but since he's already got his (metaphorical) halo it's hard to find fault with him and particularly for his acceptably human (if feigned) reluctance to join a firefight with a bunch of drunken outlaws. Joseph (Graham Greene) is outstanding as is Angel (fellow countryman Alfred Molina who has proved himself many times since) as the kind of necessary semi-villain/rogue types that help show Maverick, no angel himself, in a slightly less predatory light.
This film pretends to be nothing but what it is and that stands to its eternal credit. There's no doubt, given the cast performances, that this film was a hoot to make. Such films are vital to lighten our moods from the sombre turns they can take sometimes by reminding us that probably it was much worse in the past, and for exactly that reason, it might also have been quite a bit better.
Small details in films with a threadbare plot can sometimes redeem the
overall work. Since details were clearly waved aside as unimportant,
this film stood little chance.
Rather than go through the film with a fine tooth-comb, which others have already done and with more skill and patience than I, I'll just pick out a few memorable parts that grated with or disappointed me.
The dialogue between the Mayor (Peter Kybart) and Madeleine White (Jodie Foster) behind closed doors was ludicrous. We didn't need gratuitous insults to know that underneath her coolly demure exterior, White was largely made of tool steel. White's later comment to Frazier that her bite was much worse than her bark clearly signalled that we'd never see her fangs. And that was a pity.
Foster looked sensational in a power-suit and pullback and did what she could with her lines. Her conversation with Case at the wharf was only good because two outstanding actors were involved. Even then they struggled to make lemonade as they discussed a supposed super-secret within earshot of strangers.
I found the interplay between White and Case entertaining. Somewhat psychopathic high-fliers they circled each other warily. This, admittedly thin, role is a pleasant departure for Foster who frequently lands parts as the feisty (though always admirable) little battler. She has eyes that can convey almost any emotion so her most thrilling portrayal could be as a beautiful psychopath. (Hollywood please note.)
Frazier (Denzel Washington) was as flawed and potentially corrupt as all the others. Perhaps that was the message but it's not comforting to see that the price of this purportedly honourable cop was just a few carats of carbon allotrope that will allow him to bed his woman with the handcuffs, again. The self-congratulatory mutual butt-patting after Frazier and Mitchell's meeting with Case wasn't funny or light, just crass and ugly.
Not much to redeem this film: a promising cast for a mediocre movie with some bad messages.
When I was 9 my mother took me and my sister to see this film and I
remember feeling oddly unsettled when we emerged from the cinema.
Typical of its time, the film was a solid example of what made Disney the force it was. The story and denouement is no less accessible to (and still suitable for) children of today.
Barbara Harris' crossover performance as Annabelle was excellent, demonstrating Harris' skill as a comic actress. Jodie Foster's portrayal of Ellen was remarkable, particularly her embodiment of her mother's jealousy for Bill's attractive new secretary: the barbed and catty lines, that she delivers like a pro, still make me laugh. That scene could have gone on longer because Foster was in her element as she already had some seriously challenging roles under her belt. The film is endearing and nonthreatening. When things go wrong the result is predictably chaotic yet with that Disney-esque feeling that things will resolve themselves satisfactorily, if a tad unrealistically. Watching it again and knowing how it works I still feel impatient for them to switch back in time for the aquacade. The stunts are impressive given the state of the art at the time (e.g. Smokey and the Bandit) and the coordinator was no slouch. Whenever I see John Astin in a role I can't avoid recalling his bedrock days as the effulgent-eyed Gomez Addams and I automatically smile.
The story is still entertaining and with a commendable aim without resorting to mushy sentimentalism. It became a special film for me and watching it 5 years later, I noticed that odd feeling again. Then I understood. It was how Dante felt when he first saw Beatrice.
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