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The Ugly Truth (2009)
Forget the reviews: Loved the film!
Saw the trailer months ago and flagged it as a film to see. Love Katherine Heigl-bright, beautiful, and more importantly, intelligent-and Gerard Butler is a hunk with charisma and masculinity. However, the reviews have been Luke warm and negative, and I wanted to see the film anyway and was not disappointed. I loved the romantic conflicts which are set up in the story, and the chemistry between Heigl and Butler is fantastic. I also loved the realism of the dialog in this film and the way it is utilized for character development and moves the story forward. The humor and the characters provide a sense of 2009 in the film and I found THE UGLY TRUTH a very entertaining and "truthful" film to see this Summer of 2009.
The Hurt Locker (2008)
An early "Oscar" film of depth and importance
THE HURT LOCKER hits you like a depth charge in your stomach from the first frames of the film with a tension and suspense that makes you grip the arms of your theater seat with fear and terror as you feel the Iraq war really come home and deliver a picture of a war that our soldiers have lived every day. Every scene of the film makes you realize what our troops have felt in fighting a war where you think the smile on the civilian is one of warmth, when in reality it is wrapped in a deadly bomb waiting to go off and maim and kill. Jeremy Renner is magnificent in his journey as the Bomb Tech and his bravery and skills are shown in intensive scenes that make you wonder how are men and women are dealing with shrapnel, bombs, terrorism and attacks that are both deadly and mortal. Renner is my first Nom for the major awards in the future months. The photography is out of this world and the close shots of the faces of the actors in their scenes and the intensity which Barry Ackroyd delivers is fantastic. THE HURT LOCKER brings home the horror of the war in Iraq and delivers to an audience a film which will linger in your mind forever. Bravo Kathryn Bigelow for this incredible film.
Lustrous Michelle Pfeiffer lights up the screen
Amidst a sea of "transfomers" on the screen comes the lustrous and elegant film CHERI with a tremendous cast of actors and dialog that jumps off the page from the talented Christopher Hampton. Just when you thought there wouldn't be an intelligent adult fare on the summer 2009 screen, Michelle Pfeiffer and Kathy Bates light up the film with scenes that are so delicious and wicked in forming character and setting up the love story that follows. The costumes, french locations and the rich tapestry of elegance which Stephen Frears paints on the screen in CHERI is breathtaking with a touch of pathos thrown into the mix as Ms. Pfeiffer transforms her character into a heroine that will remain timeless. The last frame and the final scene of the film will long be remembered. Merci pour CHERI, Monsieur Frears.
Angels & Demons (2009)
A Trip to Rome via Tom Hanks
Went to see ANGELS AND DEMONS in Century City, Los Angeles, yesterday with a good film friend and we both left the film with, "okay, but not great". However, Tom Hanks looked tremendous in the film, and for me, carried it to its improbable ending. The film was too long in Act one, I fell asleep for 5 minutes of it, and eventually awoke to Hanks coming into Rome. I give Hanks an A+ for all the dialog his character, our kindly Harvard Professor, had to spout out in relation to the historical, or is it hysterical?, relevance of the Catholic Church, in relation to electing a new Pope with some of his brethren having to go through some twists and turns. When the film finally ended, and the fires had died down, I kept thinking, "there by the grace of God, go I..." But for the handsome Ewan McGregor, perhaps another choice in his "Catholic" motivations might have led to a different ending.
State of Play (2009)
A "Politico-Journo" Thriller
STATE OF PLAY is a timely film intertwined with stories that resonate on today's print pages and on the internet of political scandals mixed with corruption. But isn't that what American politics are all about? I had trepidations about seeing Russell Crowe, as I find him totally repulsive for how he has treated underlings here in the USA, but from the first frame of the film, to the last, he is brilliant in his role and his character drives the story. Helen Mirren is perfect as a "Ben Bradley" and Rachel McAdams once again proves herself on the screen as a very talented actor. The film moves at a fast pace, the dark exteriors of D.C. add to the darkness of the story, and the ending had me surprised, but then again, this is about power and how it corrupts those who have it, and can lose it in a second. Ben Affleck is a solid Stephen Collins, and you forget he is a film star, when the story propels him forward to his own fate.
The Mysteries of Pittsburgh (2008)
"Coming of Age with humor and pathos...."
MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH is a truly 2009 "coming of age" story of three young people who meet in Pittsburgh and take a journey which will change their lives forever. The cast is superb; and I found Jon Foster's voice and performance refreshing inside a seasoned cast of Nick Nolte, Sienna Miller, "American Beauty's" Mena Suvari and the incredibly talented Peter Sarsgaard. Reviews have been mixed on the film, but I thought it took off in the second act, with humor of the challenges facing the characters, and the pathos of how "love" can take a turn when you least expect it. The dialog, at times witty and with a cynical barb to it, and the location of Pittsburgh, with its hills and older homes, adds to the story. I really liked this film, and once again, the cast is delicious to look at, and watch.
"Michael Clayton" goes "Intel"
I had been waiting for DUPLICITY for months, and finally caught it today at The Grove, West Hollywood, and I was elated to see such a smart film with the handsome Clive Owen, and Julia Roberts, as his perfect comedic foil. The dialog is crisp, sharp and witty from the first frame to the last. Owen and Roberts have great charisma and the attraction between the two despite their professional "Intel" roles is instant. The locations, sets are fabulous, with of course, New York the prime location.
What is also so brilliant about DUPLICITY is how, as in MICHAEL CLAYTON, the evils of "corporatism" are portrayed in the film as Owen, Roberts and cast attempt to steal from one another. With today's AIG and Bank issues on the front page of every paper, and across the Net, what Tony Gilroy adds to the film in his scenes of corporate warriors fighting one another for market control, is right to the point of the economic issues we are having to face today. But what Owen and Roberts do is bring a marvelous sense of humor to their roles, and effortlessly bring corporatism to the state of showing an audience just what a hellish world that is. Very entertaining and especially well written film.
The International (2009)
International Intrigue via Clive Owen & Company
Clive Owen delivers a nice thrilling performance in an international thriller which reminds an audience of the BOURNE ULTIMATUM films with a story which takes you all over the international map in attempting to solve a crime. Owen and the lovely Naomi Watts make an interesting team of mates to travel to Berlin, et. AL. and while the story is a bit far fetched, in today's world of terrorism and plots to steal, kill and overtake countries and governments, Owen as an international Agent does manage to convince an audience of attempting to "settle justice" in a very "unjust world and political climate".
The locations are magnificent and you feel as if you are on a international travel log of stops in Berlin, Milan, Istanbul, Lyon and of course, New York. But then, this is THE INTERNATIONAL and thus the foreign locations make the story ring true to the chase for justice and to solve an international crime. One can only hope that Clive's Agent will find something of reward in the chase.
Last Chance Harvey (2008)
Hoffman/Thompson create entertainment amongst a sea of dark films
LAST CHANCE HARVEY is a breath of fresh air amongst a sea of dark dramas up for kudos. The journey Hoffman takes to London and his encounter with the marvelous Emma Thompson creates a story that is so entertaining and enjoyable. The London locations, the brilliant chemistry between Emma and Dustin, and the joy one finds in their histories and luck in finding each other in London is wonderful to enfold on the screen. The writing is superb from Joel Hopkins, the London locations so fantastic to the story and film, and the supporting cast is excellent. Moreover, the themes which the film hits upon in regards to divorce, family relationships rings true to not only the film but to an audience, such as myself, that has felt the pains of divorce and the issues of loyalty. I loved this film, and HARVEY brings a "Dramedy" to the screen when one is needed amongst "the darkness" in 2009...
Gran Torino (2008)
"The lessons of life and death"
GRAN TORINO is another masterpiece from Clint Eastwood and is a story that resonates with the diverse cultures of America today and the issues of assimilation into a white America. Eastwood portrays a typical blue collar American in the Midwest, hesitant to change, and dealing with his own personal issues. But when he takes on his neighbors and begins to understand their differences,along with their culture, magic happens on the screen and Eastwood's journey is one that brings laughter, as well as tears, to his growth and love for others. The Golden Globes missed out on this film, but Eastwood should be there at Oscar time and GRAN TORINO is a film that should be justly rewarded as the themes of life, death, family and assimilation of cultures into the American main stream, are extremely important ones. I can hardly wait until the Oscar nominations for GRAN TORINO.