In "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," Anse Rainier(Gary Richardson), an… MoreIn "The Reluctant Fundamentalist," Anse Rainier(Gary Richardson), an American university professor, has been kidnapped in Lahore, Pakistan. Bobby Lincoln(Liev Schreiber), a journalist, has a lead in Changez(Riz Ahmed), a professor with supposed ties to local militants. Changez agrees to talk to Bobby but insists at starting at the beginning, like his being recruited out of Princeton University at Underwood Samson, a top investment firm, by Jim Cross(Kiefer Sutherland, perhaps doing penance for playing America's favorite crypto-fascist) in 2000.
"The Reluctant Fundamentalist" take great aims to show the world is not that simple, while being very critical of both rampant capitalism and fundamentalism and keenly exploring notions of identity in the post 9/11 world. So much so, that the movie lacks any sense of urgency which is a definite problem concerning its framing device. Look, I could listen to Riz Ahmed and Liev Schreiber shoot the breeze all day, but we really don't need to hear Changez talk so much about him having hot, sweaty sex with his artist girlfriend Erica(Kate Hudson)..........ok, maybe just a little.
Recovering from a serious car accident that has left her scarred,… MoreRecovering from a serious car accident that has left her scarred, Beatrice(Noomi Rapace) spends nearly all of her time in the apartment she shares with her mother(Isabelle Huppert). Gradually, Beatrice is starting to come out of her shell, starting with her sending a note to Victor(Colin Farrell) who lives across the way from her, asking to meet him. It is there that she reveals her motives are much less romantic than about revenge, which she feels Victor can help her with.
"Dead Man Down" is a finely tuned neo-neo-noir that is helped greatly by the excellent chemistry between Noomi Rapace and Colin Farrell playing characters brought together not so much by vengeance as by loneliness. Along these same lines, mood is very important here, as the movie has a dimmed color scheme, which gives New York City the feeling of always being draped in shadows. But sometimes the movie can go a little too far in that hazy direction, as I'm still not exactly sure who F. Murray Abraham is supposed to be playing here.(To be fair, I feel the same about him in "Homeland.") That's not to mention an ending that it probably doesn't deserve, following a cliched climax.
While investigating the disappearance of actor Paul Henderson(Jon… MoreWhile investigating the disappearance of actor Paul Henderson(Jon Pertwee), the police take the time to consider the strange cases of the three men who were the previous tenants of the house he was living in.
With an ominous sounding title, "The House that Dripped Blood" is an ineffective and lackluster horror movie. So much so, that even Denholm Elliott, Peter Cushing and Chrisopher Lee can do little with their individual segments, each with a twist and poor special effects. It is Jon Pertwee through sheer bug-eyed abandon who makes the biggest impression. But that is still not enough to save the movie.
"Charlie's Country" is a different kind of Australian apocalyptic… More"Charlie's Country" is a different kind of Australian apocalyptic movie than the ones we're used to seeing. While on a much smaller scale, the movie is no less concerned with the current state and fate of the Aboriginal population. That is embodied in Charlie(David Gulpilil, who also co-wrote with director Rolf de Heer) who once danced in front of Queen Elizabeth to celebrate the opening of the Sydney Opera House. Through a series of tragicomic misadventures in the present day, he comes to realize that the old ways are gone forever.
What makes his situation even worse is that the old ways of Aboriginals were not replaced by anything. At best, they are treated like children. At worst, they are treated like criminals.
"The Seven Five" is a stylish and fascinating documentary about former… More"The Seven Five" is a stylish and fascinating documentary about former New York City Policeman Michael Dowd who served ten years in prison on various corruption charges. Along with his testimony in front of a commission in 1992, the movie is framed by some very forthright interviews from Dowd, his partner Ken Eurell, various co-horts, and those charged in rooting out corruption in the New York City Police Department.(They are all so forthright, that one imagines a very lengthy pre-filming legal conference about what is covered under the statute of limitations. That would also make a great DVD extra, by the way.)
Dowd carried on with his extra-legal and illegal activities long after other members of his precinct stopped when a nearby precinct was brought down in a massive corruption raid, operating under the faulty logic that he was good because he was robbing from drug dealers and was not being caught. He was eventually brought down by Suffolk County police which still has one of the New York City internal affairs detectives shaking his head.(You have to be from Long Island to get the irony but trust me it's here.)
"The Seven Five" also tackles wider themes like the police in general, not just those at this very crime-ridden junction of East New York, Brooklyn in the 1980's. On the one side, the camaraderie of the police looking for each other can only be a plus in such a dangerous precinct as the 75th. On the other hand, this also prevented them from going to the proper authorities when one of their own was doing something very wrong and illegal which one subject regrets to the present day.
Over his career, writer-director Andrew Niccol has made a series of… MoreOver his career, writer-director Andrew Niccol has made a series of films about advanced technology and how they might apply to Ethan Hawke. With his latest, "Good Kill," there is the state of the art technology of drone warfare. However, this time around, mind the Star Trek('A Taste of Armageddon'), Niccol is more curious about whether any war, no matter how hard we may try, can ever be considered entirely clean while asking questions that require an answer one of these days.(As far as one of those goes, yes that is a war crime.) At the same time, the movie captures exactly how weird a place Las Vegas is and not just because of those ominous overhead shots.
What there is of a story concerns Major Thomas Egan(Ethan Hawke), a former Air Force pilot, now relegated to flying drones from an air conditioned room in Nevada. While he desperately wants to get back in the air, his wife Molly(January Jones) desperately wants to have sex. As you can imagine, the excellent performances from Hawke and Bruce Greenwood definitely do make a difference here.
After a journalist(Beatriz Ramos) asks a famous artist(Alberto Galan)… MoreAfter a journalist(Beatriz Ramos) asks a famous artist(Alberto Galan) about a painting that he refuses to publicly show, he tells a sad story about Maria Candelaria(Dolores del Rio) who has been shunned by the local villagers. Circumstances have forced her to travel to sell some of her flowers in order to pay off some longstanding debts but even her great courage is no match for the villagers' flotilla. Only Lorenzo(Pedro Armendariz) is willing to speak up for her.
"Maria Candelaria" might be old fashioned melodrama but that does not mean it cannot also be well-executed and entertaining. In fact, the movie also tackles such timely issues as the dangers of mob rule and hypocrisy. Plus, there is the fact that the entire movie is centered around a nude painting, such sensuality being far ahead of its time. At the same time, the painter is not left off the hook, which is a nice touch in adding some ambiguity to the mix.
In "Mental," Nancy(Kerry Fox) may enjoy singing show tunes in her… MoreIn "Mental," Nancy(Kerry Fox) may enjoy singing show tunes in her backyard, but that does not mean her neighbors share her love for "The Sound of Music." Even though Nancy's husband Barry(Anthony LaPaglia), the local mayor, is not really at home that often due to having sex with his secretarial staff, he can still sense something is wrong there and that Nancy needs help taking care of their five kids, just as long as it's not him. So, he picks up Shaz(Toni Collette) by the side of the road, taking her home with him.
"Mental" gets off to a great start and then makes a very valid point about Nancy not being the crazy one in the neighborhood. And after those very promising five minutes, the movie decides it has nowhere to go from there, becoming a mess of conflicting thoughts for the rest of its ample running time, albeit a very colorful one with a neat primary cast that is really helpless to fight the tide.(And, hey that is Liev Schreiber!) So, after it explores Nancy's problems ad nauseam, there is Shaz who aside from being a driving force in the narrative has her own wacky story to tell, resulting in perhaps the low point of Toni Collette's career to date.
"Late Bloomers" has a good cast, namely William Hurt and Isabella… More"Late Bloomers" has a good cast, namely William Hurt and Isabella Rossellini as a married couple growing nearer to 60 while facing challenges in life, namely his struggling architecture practice and her wanting to volunteer at pretty much anything.(That's not to mention very fine support from Simon Callow and Joanna Lumley.) But the movie is so scattershot that it lacks much in the way of a consistent story, or really any kind of meaningful insights.
In "The Girl," Ashley(Abbie Cornish) has problems that extend just… MoreIn "The Girl," Ashley(Abbie Cornish) has problems that extend just beyond her low paying job. Namely her DUI conviction that resulted in her son being put into foster care. So, she welcomes the opportunity to bond with her father(Will Patton) at his home in Mexico. After finding out what he does for money, namely smuggling people across the border in his truck, she gets some ideas of her own...
Abbie Cornish deserves better than this. In the past she has shown much more promise and talent than here with "The Girl" where her character is mostly defined by a wonky Texas accent.(Will Patton is great, by the way.) At the same time, that's one of this sentimental and mawkish movie's lesser flaws, where the central point seems to be to prove that Ashley is really not such a terrible person after all. This is in a world where migrants have bigger problems than clueless white people.