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Open Water (2003)
An Isolating Adventure
"Other people go on vacation and spend their days just laying around...Think of the story we will be telling" This is the line that Daniel Kintner (Daniel Travis) says to his girlfriend (Blanchard Ryan) a few moments after realising their tour boat had gone back to shore, leaving them both stranded in the middle of the ocean, after a mix-up leads the crew of the boat to believe all the divers were back on the boat.
Thats the basic plot outline for Open Water, based on true events and has been dubbed as a Blair Witch / Jaws hybrid. I think its much more than that though, the "realness" of it certainly makes it a lot more terrifying than Jaws and the Blair Witch. Not because of the many sharks, jelly fish and other sea horrors that are swimming beneath them, but because of the desolation that is achieved well in this movie.
The bulk of the film is just the two main characters, who do a credible job of working together and pulling off that they actually are scared, this could be partly due to the fact that they actually were floating in shark infested waters, so the sharks you see swimming around them are real and actually that close. It does help make the movie more tense, but its the feeling of helplessness that gets to you more than the fact there are sharks swimming about.
It is quite a short movie at 79 minutes, but is the right length, any longer and it would bore the audience as there wasn't much else the movie could achieve.
Overall I liked it, the depressing and isolating adventure wont be everyones cup of tea but worth watching if you are in the mood for something different.
Cruise at his best
It started like any other night...For Max (Jamie Foxx) a cab driver in Los Angeles who takes his job seriously. After dropping off attractive lawyer Annie (Jada Pinkett Smith) and bagging her number he then gets a new pickup. Enter Vincent (Tom Cruise with grey hair) a mysterious business type character who poses as a real estate agent. Impressed by Max's excellent navigating skills and the speed in which he gets him to his location, Vincent asks to buy Max's services for the evening taking him to a few destinations. Reluctantly Max agrees, not knowing what the night will bring.
What the night does bring is Tom Cruise as we haven't seen him before. As a ruthless ass kicking assassin, he plays the role of Vincent superbly. There isn't a huge cast, the majority of the film is the two main leads, Cruise and Foxx, who have excellent chemistry together. While there is a sub plot going on involving a detective on Vincent's tail the film really doesn't get too caught up in it, which is a good thing and a break from the norm.
There is little action in Collateral but this really doesn't affect the pace of the film at all. Mann has done a terrific job of balancing it out and making it into a stylish gritty movie. When there is action it is jaw dropping stuff, especially the way Cruise executes a scene. A big plus for me was the way the film doesn't really go into Vincent's character, leaving him mysterious and leaving your own imagination to think about what his past may have involved.
I have few gripes about this movie, I really enjoyed it and I have to say its probably the best film I have seen this year. The only noticeable flaw for me was the Hollywood style ending. Although by no means was it bad, I think it could have possibly been done differently, but then you have to cater for a majority audience.
Overall this movie left me thinking when I left the cinema, always a good thing. Its different to most of the crime thrillers we tend to get an abundance of today. The acting is superb, especially Cruise as I mentioned before, I really cant emphasise enough how kick ass he is in Collateral. In a nutshell its not too overwhelming or fancy, it has perfect pace and well worth going to see!
Bubba Ho-Tep (2002)
Hail to the king baby!
I've always thought Bruce Campbell is a great actor. The Evil Dead trilogy was superb and he needs more roles like he has in that. Bubba Ho-Tep gives him a similar role, well kind of...
He plays an aged Elvis Presley in a convalescent home. He swapped places with a good Elvis impersonator to get out of the lime light, but now doesn't mind people knowing he is in fact the real Elvis. Not that the nurses believe him. He pairs up with an old black man (Davis) who says he is JFK, the government dyed his skin(!) Even though just this premise would make a movie, it doesn't stop there. Elvis and JFK have to fight off an Egyption redneck zombie who stalks the home sucking the souls out of patients rear end.
The film is wacky, funny at times although not really my kind of humour. It's a great change from the usual bunch of films that are getting released, but there's not really a lot too it and it does seem to end very quick.
The acting is what you would expect from a film of this sort, not Oscar winning but suits the movie. Although Campbell does play a very good ageing Elvis it has to be said.
Layer Cake (2004)
British gangster flick that wont disappoint
I love British gangster films, I love Lock Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Snatch. Layer Cake is a British gangster movie made by the producer of those movies. With Matthew Vaughn actually directing Layer Cake this means No Guy Richie, so does it have everything he puts in his movies to make them what they are? It does and more. Layer Cake for me is better than Snatch and Lock Stock. Its more real and doesn't have such a comedic outlook, which works well.
We start by meeting the main character of the film who has no name (Daniel Craig), a cocaine dealer looking to go straight. Of course with any movie where the guy wants to go straight, its not that easy. He gets pulled in deeper than he already is into the crime underworld of London. The local crime lord wants him to find a drug addicted daughter of his friend and also negotiate a deal for one million ecstasy tablets brought into the country by loud mouth cockney wide boy "Duke".
It all gets complicated in the meantime with Eastern European gangsters chasing anyone who has connections with the tablets, a rival crime lord wanting in on the action and throw in a few scousers for good measure. This forces Craig to take a different role to his usual middle man, and be a player in the whole game.
It might sound like a typical plot for a gangster movie, but its the way Layer Cake is executed with all the twists which makes it so good. There is no needless violence just for the sake of the audience expecting it, which you might see in a Guy Ritchie film. When the violence is there its pretty vicious, a scene where one of Craig's associates beats the living crap out of a 'tramp' in a café while Duran Duran is playing in the background is particularly memorable.
The actors in the movie are pretty flawless, all playing superb roles, especially Daniel Craig. His confidence and such easy going is perfectly balanced with the predicament he is in throughout the course of the movie.
Overall Layer Cake is yet another polished British gangster flick, can Hollywood make something as good? I doubt it. If you are a fan of the Guy Ritchie movies or crime flicks, don't miss this movie.