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Archive for February 6th, 2010

Movies seen this week.

I have seen three movies in the past week and have been too busy to review any of them, I fact all my posts this week are ones I wrote weeks ago and have only just published them. Its Sunday tomorrow and I will be going to see another movie so I rather than drawing a line under this week here are slightly shorter than normal reviews for this weeks movies.

Edge of Darkness:  After an eight year hiatus Mel Gibson is back in front of the camera doing what he does best. A slightly off kilter character with a gun. The film starts out as a murder mystery. Thomas Craven (Gibson) plays a widowed Boston cop, his daughter (Bojana Novakovic) is shot dead whilst visiting him. It is assumed that he was the actual target. As he investigates the film descends into a conspiracy thriller as Craven begins to realise the true motives for the killing. For a film that is based on a TV series and has to compress everything into less than two hours it is actually quite slow paced. There is little action so the comparisons go Gibson’s Lethal Weapon movies are inaccurate. The main problem is the plot, it doesn’t make as much sense and it should and isn’t particularly original. I haven’t actually seen the original TV series that it is based on but the movie does come with a certain credibility as the share a director. New Zeeland born Martin Campbell who was also responsible for the best Bond films in recent years, GoldenEye and Casino Royale. Overall the film feels a little flat and fails to live up to the star and directors reputations. It is however worth seeing for Gibson.

Two Stars Out of Five

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Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire:  Before I talk about the movie I have to say I have a real problem with the title “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire”. To give it a new title but to the convolute it with the title of the book it is based on lacks conviction in the movie as a piece of art in a different medium.  They should have just had the confidence to call it Push (used for a different movie last year) or Precious.

Precious (Gabourey Sidibe) is a girl who has been abused all her life, emotionally, psychologically, physically and sexually. She is obese and at 16 is pregnant with her second child having been raped by her farther. Being kicked out of school actually becomes the catalyst for her to start to get her life on track. This begins with attending an alternative school with a teacher who actually gives a shit. The film is not perfect, there is a very poor sense of time and space and as because of this the pacing of the movie can feel erratic.  The story often seems to go down avenues that are never explored or resolved.  The movie also unashamedly plays with the emotions of the audience by knowing exactly when to lift its characters up and when to kick them down again, it does this with the ease and bravado of a sports movie.  Many would praise a filmmaker for this ability but I found it somewhat contrived.  I also found all the supporting characters to be somewhat under developed.  That is why Mo’Nique’s performance as Precious’ mother is so impressive, she is given so little to work with. I find the accusations that the movie is racist preposterous for two reasons. The experiences of Precious are not related to her ethnicity and could happen to anyone. They also don’t portray her or her family as the norm for African American people.  At the end of Precious I joked that I wanted to go and see The Road to cheer me up. With occasionally uplifting moments the movie is not depressing; it is just a bit of a hard slog at times. As radio presenter Simon Mayo and film critic Mark Kermode are fond of saying in relation to one of last years hit movies “There’s a lot of slumdog before you get to the millionaire”, similar could be said of Precious.  It is not a film I am in a rush to see again but I am glad I have seen it.

Four Stars Out of five

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Brothers:  I normally hate Hollywood remakes of European films but Brothers benefits from the fact I haven’t seen the Danish original. If you don’t know what it is all about you haven’t seen the trailer that gives the whole story away. Captain Sam Cahill (Tobey Maguire) is in a a helicopter that is shot down in Afghanistan, along with private Joe Willis he is missing in action and presumed dead. Shortly before he left his brother Tommy (Jake Gyllenhaal) returns from prison. Over time Tommy grows closer to Sam’s Wife Grace (Natalie Portman) and butts heads with his farther Hank (Sam Shepard). Things are turned on their heads when Sam returns. In the early part of the movie Tobey Maguire appears that he can not match the acting ability of Gyllenhaal, Portman and the sublime Shepard. On his return he gives a twitchy edgy performance that is more than equal to his best early performances, Ride with the Devil and The Ice Storm.  Jake Gyllenhaal could easiy have come across as too much of a nice guy for his “black sheep” performance but he is always believable proving Brokeback Mountain and Jarhead were not flukes. Working best as a character study and an expression of the affects of war. The shortcomings of pacing and character development mean the film fails to live up to the underrated In The Valley Of Elah and the brilliant The Hurt Locker but the first rate acting make it well worth seeing.

Three Stars Out of Five

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