Bond tracks a criminal mastermind.
I've never quite understood the… MoreBond tracks a criminal mastermind.
I've never quite understood the appeal of James Bond, unless people adore the mere fantasy of being a suave, physically able action hero, so it's natural that I'd like Daniel Craig's wounded version of the character, on display most notably in Skyfall. This movement from unassailable smirking Sean Connery to Craig's more humanistic Bond started with Pierce Brosnan, but there wasn't much character exploration there. All this is to say that I was mildly looking forward to what new depths Craig could explore in Spectre. Sadly, nothing of the kind happened.
Instead, the plot of the film is more like a Where in the World Is Carmen Sandiego game. Bond finds a clue that leads him to one place, and after an action sequence, finds another clue that leads him to another, and on and on. Bond had to justify himself in Skyfall, and there is only one scene in which he has to talk about the morality of killing people, which is resolved too simply for my tastes. He recognizes that his job defines him, and so ho hum, off to another spree.
Overall, while some my marvel at Bond and the action sequences in this film, I find it overly simplistic.
A brother and sister begin a torrid, obsessive affair.
The affair that… MoreA brother and sister begin a torrid, obsessive affair.
The affair that is the central conflict on this film is interesting only in the sense that I spent most of the film wondering what drew these two siblings to each other in the first place. Their behavior before they begin fucking is quite unremarkable, a supportive brother, an adoring sister, with a mild sexual chemistry that inflames briefly and smolders. The mysterious nature of their sexuality is interesting and perhaps the center of what the film is saying about sex and love. The rest of the film's plotlines are haphazard and repetitive and rather trite ways the siblings hide their activities and resist their own desire. Most of the film is nothing you haven't seen before.
Overall, Close My Eyes begins with a good idea but fizzles to cliche.
Brian Wilson's records Pet Sounds and, in another story, falls in love… MoreBrian Wilson's records Pet Sounds and, in another story, falls in love with a car dealer.
This film alternates between two stories of Brian Wilson's life, and both are compelling and incredibly well-acted. John Cusack and Paul Dano are at top form, and their performances are the highlights of this strong, interesting, and heartfelt film. Paul Giamatti plays older Wilson's psychiatrist cum legal guardian, who is scamming Wilson for his fortune and talent, and younger Wilson's Beach Boys brethren vie for control of the band, the artistic sense of which Wilson wants to take in new Beatles-imitation directions.
For a while, I was so compelled by the pitch-perfect story-telling and wonderful performances that I considered whether Love and Mercy might be the best film of the year, better than Ex Machina, but no, sadly, Elizabeth Banks's role fall in to the "helping woman" cliche, and there are some objectiveless, wandering scenes that only Dano's talent makes interesting.
Overall, God only know what would be a better Brian Wilson biopic.
A Palestinian boy grows up in Jerusalem, falls for an Israeli Jewish… MoreA Palestinian boy grows up in Jerusalem, falls for an Israeli Jewish girl, and must borrow the identity of a schoolmate.
What begins as a realistic and compelling retelling of Romeo and Juliet becomes a fascinating criticism of identity, religion, and politics. Eyad's rather blithe transformation from Palestinian anathema to Israeli citizen reveals how socially constructed and fluid such labels are and the failures of the politics that condemn rather than unite. The plot unfolds a bit slowly, and I could have done without the boyhood scenes, but once the film picks up steam, it's deft, critical, and remarkable.
Overall, director Eran Riklis's examination of the culture and make-up of Jerusalem is intelligent and should be required viewing for anyone thinking seriously about Israel and Palestine.
A young woman directionlessly and disaffectedly spends a summer.… MoreA young woman directionlessly and disaffectedly spends a summer.
Quebec has made one of the "most French" movies I have ever seen. Long shots, subtext-driven scenes, disaffected characters, existential angst - all the trappings are there, and yet even the most inaccessible of French cinema has an energy that's missing from Tu Dors Nicole.
Overall, it's so subtle and pretentious that it will probably win an Oscar.
A rich man employs a personal trainer whose complex relationship with… MoreA rich man employs a personal trainer whose complex relationship with her boss thwarts his affections.
The plot of this film unfolds slowly, and the characters' motivations are muddy. None has a clear, consistent objective that s/he pursues throughout the film, and while these shifting objectives might add to the film's verisimilitude, there isn't a strong enough narrative hand to guide the audience through the film's shifts. When the plot all begins to resolve, one story ends predictably, and the other resolution is so slap-dash that I couldn't believe the film would really end on that note.
I suspect that all of the performances were directed to be subtext-driven, but if it's trying to be a rom-com, then I think stifling the natural energy of Cobie Smulders and Guy Pearce was a mistake. Their performances were like looking at a light through a dark curtain.
Overall, the result of Results is less than its ambitions.
A drone pilot struggles with the morality of his job, the urge to fly… MoreA drone pilot struggles with the morality of his job, the urge to fly again, and his marriage.
Primarily this film is a debate about the ethics of drone warfare and the "War on Terror." The supporting characters are representatives of political positions, their metonymic function is to parrot the arguments for and against bombing sovereign nations, collateral damage (bombing civilians), and bombing people who might eventually bomb Americans. An overwhelming percentage of the film serves to present this argument, and while the content of their exchanges is largely substantive, it creates an inauthenticity to the film; I doubt that real military personnel engage in this kind of debate in this kind of language. Even January Jones's character becomes a mash of two types: the supportive military wife mixed with the disloyal military wife. Except for the main character, all of the others are cliched types.
Ethan Hawke's performance is pretty good. His sensitive eyes and taut jaw convey Tom's conflict, but he's not served by the script, which doesn't give him too far to go in Tom's emotional and ethical development. In one scene, Tom feels guilty about bombing people from thousands of miles away, and in the next scene he feels more guilty about doing the same thing. Hawke does his best, and he's a talented actor, believable in this role, but I wish he had had more to work with.
Overall, despite my complaints, Good Kill is not a bad film, but a greater focus on character would've made it better.