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Harsh Times (2005)
Training Day... but with a better script, better actors, and a better director
An intense film, that FEELS a lot like Training Day, but with more of a gritty approach, and with actors who seem actually believable... which makes sense since it's based on the real life experiences of the director/writer and people he knows.
Rodriguez (who was at the World Premiere) and Bale give stellar performances. Rodriguez, if this film is well distributed, will get huge exposure and will likely go far. His performance was incredible, believable, and emotional. Bale continues to show that he's one of the best in Hollywood. Sure, he's playing a slightly psychotic, mentally unstable fellow, similar to a number of previous roles he's played, but he does it so well.
Ayer has improved as a writer, and considering this is his feature film debut as a director, he did fantastically. His knowledge as a director shone through in the Q&A after the film. He also made sure to mention the Cannes labs, where he worked on the script for this film, and how it helped him improve as a writer.
Go see it. It's intense, well written, incredibly performed, and is a thinker of a film.
Scwartzman steals the show
The trailers to this film portray it as one of those romantic comedies, but it really isn't. Have you seen Lost in Translation? Then you know what this film will be like.
Adapted from Steve Martin's Novella of the same name, Shopgirl showcases none of the usually Steve Martin comedy elements, mirroring Bill Murray's lead dramatic turn in Lost in Translation. Both Murray and Martin are older gentleman with some interest in a much younger woman.
Inevitably, Lost in Translation and Shopgirl are going to be compared, just because of ALL the similarities between them. Only Lost in Translation is the better film. Somewhat forced and lacking real emotion with the two leads (Claire Danes and Steve Martin), the film falls short of my expectations.
Jason Schwartzman, however, was given the best lines, showed true character growth (really, the theme of the film), and had truly the most comedic moments in the film.
As a sidenote, Richard Roeper, who was seated behind me during the World Premiere, did not laugh once, and seemed disappointed.