If you wound up here via my Facebook page or Twitter feed, yes…news of my closing this site was just a good old fashioned April Fool’s Day prank. Hope you weren’t too concerned — my spoiler-free movie reviews will continue. You can’t get rid of me that easily 😉
Thanks for your support – The MN Movie Man
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Synopsis: A group of nine college students staying at a friend’s remote island mansion begin to fall victim to an unseen murderer over the April Fool’s day weekend.
Stars: Deborah Foreman, Griffin O’Neal, Amy Steel, Ken Olandt, Clayton Rohner, Deborah Goodrich, Thomas F. Wilson
Director: Fred Walton
Running Length: 88 minutes
TMMM Score: (6/10)
Review: Back in 1986, Hollywood was neck deep in the teen slasher genre. Classics like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and A Nightmare on Elm Street had already spawned sequels and a number of inferior imitations all set up to cash in on the horror craze that proved to be box office gold. Though by the late eighties the masked madman set-up was played out it would find resurgence a decade later when Scream kickstarted a new wave of the next generation of slasher film.
In between the sequels and cheap-o knockoffs, there were a few respectable entries that fell victim to guilt by association and weren’t given their fair shot in their initial release. I feel like April Fool’s Day is one of those films – though no classic it’s a well-made and well-acted horror with a nice smattering of comedy heaped in on top. It’s genial fun that knowingly places itself a few rungs down from its blood and boob soaked cousins, favoring atmosphere to shocks.
That’s one of the main reasons I feel that the film was ignored by many when it was released and only caught on later when it was broadcast endlessly on cable. There’s not a huge amount of yuck-o payoff that most blood starved teen audiences were craving. I was first attracted to it by the clever cover and simple set-up that is quite reminiscent of an Agatha Christie yarn. Updating Christie’s And Then There Were None to the 80’s and throwing in some comedy along the lines of Porky’s, April Fool’s Day works on several enjoyable levels.
The first success is in its casting with fresh faced members of 1986 young Hollywood, none of which went on to do much on the big screen. There’s an easy-going quality about the acting that doesn’t scream Acting 101, making it easier to tolerate some of the cliché dialogue and workmanlike pacing. It’s trim running time works to its advantage, though, by forcing the film to break out of the gate quickly…there are several sequences that are nicely set-up, especially the final half when it really kicks into gear.
Atmosphere is too often dismissed in films of this nature just so we can get to the gory stuff. April Fool’s Day is surprisingly light on gore and blood…it insinuates more than it shows. That restraint works perfectly for the story that is unfolding so the mystery is a bit more interesting to solve and the twists less obvious. That’s not to say it won’t be difficult for the casual movie-goer to catch on where the film is heading…but you may be surprised on how it gets to the final reel.
Director Walton helmed the nail-biter When a Stranger Calls (the original, not the dreadful remake) so he knows how to create dread from everyday circumstances. He keeps the camera moving when it’s appropriate and leaves things just out of our eyesight to keep us guessing. Foreman was always my favorite underrated 80’s actress (see her work in Valley Girl to get my point) and here she’s a delight as the hostess with a few tricks up her sleeves and skeletons in her closet. Steel was no stranger to horror having starred in Friday the 13th: Part 2 and she brings that same heroine pluck-ishness to this film.
So maybe you’ve seen this and think I’m totally crazy for liking it the way I do. Having rewatched it again recently I still was struck by how nice it looks and how strong the technical elements are. Though it may weaken a bit with each viewing, there’s something to be said for your first time. Like the tagline says, this one is “a cut above the rest” and is a harmlessly enjoyable gem that deserves a look-see.
Synopsis: When a gigantic great white shark begins to menace the small island community of Amity, a police chief, a marine scientist and grizzled fisherman set out to stop it.
Stars: Roy Scheider, Robert Shaw, Richard Dreyfuss, Lorraine Gary, Murray Hamilton, Susan Backlinie
Director: Steven Spielberg
Running Length: 124 minutes
TMMM Score: (11/10)
As someone who is in the business (okay, hobby) of reviewing movies and being known as a fan of the silver screen, I’m often asked what my favorite film is. Though at times I may wish I could be someone that would say Modern Times, Animal Crackers, Casablanca, The Graduate, The Godfather Part II, or Grease 2 (kidding…or am I?) I always ALWAYS have a one word answer: Jaws.
You see, for me the most honest experience at a movie is when I am totally swept into and away with the thrill of it all and thrills is something Jaws has in spades. It’s too smart of a film to be kept inside the monster movie genre and too gung-ho about getting a rise out of its audience to be relegated to mere classic cinema status and put on the shelf with other well-made movies that aren’t nearly as re-watchable.
In 2013 Jaws turns 38 and though I’ve lost count over the years I’d bet my viewings of the film number in the triple digits. It’s one of the very few films where I can’t remember the first time I saw it…and that’s saying something because I’m known to have a fairly good memory for when (and where) I’ve seen most moves in my life (go ahead, quiz me!). All I remember is one day Jaws came into my life on a VHS copy and my changed for the better. After that sharks were the #1 obsession of mine and though I wasn’t one of the viewers too scared to go back in the water after (living in a landlocked state will do that to you) I’ll admit to dog paddling a little easier knowing I could see the bottom of whatever body of water I was taking a dip in.
Another special memory of Jaws is that shortly after my parents met they saw it at a sold out theater in Iowa. My mom remembers that they had to sit in the front row and she’s had a hard time seeing the film over the years because it scared her so bad. If I could travel back in time I’m not ashamed to admit that attending a screening of Jaws when it was first released in theaters would be one of my top five choices.
Luckily, the popularity of the film has guaranteed that some theater will have it on the big screen once or twice a year and I find it hard to resist buying a ticket any time I see one pop up. I love sitting through the film packed in a crowded theater and hearing the screams, laughs, and shrieks that Steven Spielberg’s landmark film can still elicit all these years later.
Having seen every documentary and read all the material on the famously shaky making of Jaws in the summer of 1974, there’s not a lot about the film and its production that I don’t know. A greater appreciation for the final product develops every time I hear about the pain of filming at sea and the frustration with a mechanical shark that rarely worked. Still, without these roadblocks I’m not entirely positive that the film would have wound up as fantastically entertaining as it did.
Adapted from Peter Benchley’s runaway bestseller by the author and Carl Gottlieb, Universal Studios knew they had the makings of a huge money maker…if only they could assemble the right team to make the film. Enter young director Spielberg (Lincoln, Jurassic Park), fresh from directing The Sugarland Express which was lauded by critics but ignored by audiences. Decidedly green but possessing a crackerjack eye for film technique, Spielberg wasn’t even sure of himself but faced a trial by fire as he and his crew attempted a daring shoot on location in Martha’s Vineyard under the watchful eye of its residents.
Originally planned to feature its star (that’d be the shark) much more, when technical difficulties kept the shark in the repair shop, Spielberg filmed as much of the movie as he could that didn’t feature the man-eating fish. Working with an unconventional troupe of actors, Spielberg was forced to get creative when time and budget called for something shark-related to finally be shot. Merely suggesting the presence of the shark for the first half of the film was a high-wire risky move and I’m not sure anyone involved with the movie was sure how it would all turn out.
Luckily for the studio, Spielberg, the crew, and the audience it all came together in a film that went down in history as creating the summer blockbuster. A monster hit when released in the summer of 1975, people waited in line for hours to see the shark do his thing and returned for second and third viewings, propelling the movie into the top box office champ of the year and, for a while, of all time. In fact, in 1975 Jaws made nearly double what the next highest film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, made and it was the first movie to make more than 200 million dollars in the US box office.
All the hoopla about making the film and its success aside, let’s not forget that Jaws is one of the most perfectly constructed movies ever put on celluloid. Opening with a bang meant to jolt the audience into rapt attention; the film slowly builds and builds with each new attack more violent and unsettling. Spielberg keeps the tension high as a huge (but not comically proportioned) great white shark descends upon the small New England island town of Amity in the peak of summer. The new police chief Martin Brody (Roy Scheider in a performance that honestly gets better and more satisfying with each viewing) wants to do something about it but a mayor and town council that has their eyes on tourist dollars ignores the problem until it’s too late. Then it’s up to Brody, marine biologist Hooper (Richard Dreyfuss, just a few years before he’d win an Oscar for The Goodbye Girl) and salty man of the sea Quint (Robert Shaw who by some cruel miracle wasn’t even nominated for an Oscar) to set sail in search of the shark…who begins to hunt them as well.
While the film could have gone off the rails on any number of occasions, it’s thanks to the three lead performances, Spielberg’s sharp direction, and Verna Field’s Oscar-winning editing that the true beauty of Jaws is revealed. In between passages of breathless energy and suspense, time is taken to let the characters drive the story so we get to know who these people are. That’s why when they find themselves in peril the terror feels even more real because they aren’t just faceless victims ready to be chomped down on…we’ve warmed to them and their squaring off with a very real foe becomes all that more powerful.
Though I’ve seen the film numerous times I still find myself having a real reaction to certain sequences in the film. The opening attack on an unknowing swimmer is still unsettling to this day and that Spielberg can stage something so violent without showing a drop of blood and gore is noble. (How this only managed to garner a PG rating is fairly incredible…) I love the interaction Schieder has with Lorriane Gary as his headstrong wife. Even though she was married to the head of Universal Studios and some cried foul, Gary is a commanding presence and makes a believable counterpart to Scheider. Who can forget Shaw’s infamous monologue about the true-life tale sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis and all of the men taken by a swarm of hungry sharks? Then there’s the 25 foot shark and his wickedly scary appearances throughout the film; timed so perfectly that you don’t just jump in your chair…you leap out of it.
Of course, you can’t mention Jaws without saving some space for John Williams and his Oscar-winning score that is very nearly a character unto itself. Some have said that watching Jaws without the score takes away much of the suspense and I can’t say I totally disagree. Though the shark isn’t seen fully until late in the film, it’s the ominous simple note combination from Williams that tells you danger is near. It’s one of the select film soundtracks that could be heard in its entirety where one can see the movie happening in their head as they listen.
I’m always a bit stunned when someone says they haven’t seen Jaws. Then I’m excited because that means when I finally force them to see it they will get to experience filmmaking at its absolute finest. The movie has everything going for it – it’s a scary, funny, well-made, well-acted, carefully stitched together piece of cinema that has kept its dignity over the years though many lesser talents have tried to re-capture some of the magic. Followed by three sequels and inspiring endless rip-offs the movie is still a high water mark for blockbuster entertainment.
Happy 38th Birthday Jaws…you still have a lot of bite left in you!
Synopsis: Aurora and Emma are mother and daughter who march to different drummers. Covering several years of their lives, each finds different reasons to go on living and find joy through humor and strength.
Stars: Shirley MacLaine, Debra Winger, Jack Nicholson, Jeff Daniels, John Lithgow
Director: James L. Brooks
Running Length: 132 minutes
TMMM Score: (9.5/10)
Review: Many movies can be classified as tearjerkers but few earn their stripes with the dignity and humor of Terms of Endearment, James L. Brooks’ Oscar winning dramedy chronicling a tumultuous mother-daughter relationship and the various men in their lives. I return to this film every few years and it manages to always feel fresh and unexpected thanks to its uniformly excellent performances and Brooks’ nigh-perfect script.
What always sets this apart for me is the way the movie lets these big, eccentric characters retain their humanity even when placed in circumstances that challenge them. Based on Larry McMurtry’s novel, Brooks has tightened up the proceedings, added characters, and allowed his actors to own the quirkiness they bring to the table. There’s Winger’s multi-layered daughter, who evolves from a frustrated teen to a giving mother in an unhappy marriage with a philandering husband (Daniels) eventually being distracted by an unwise affair with Lithgow. Meanwhile, McClaine’s Oscar winning role as Winger’s mother takes shape as she battles brutal truths with her daughter while getting involved with an astronaut ladies man (Supporting Oscar winner Nicholson) who moves in next door.
All of these characters could have been overplayed in lesser hands but it works perfectly even today. Nominated for 11 Oscars and winning five (including Best Picture), the film has lost none of it charm or impact as it comes to its conclusion becoming one of the truly certified five hankie tearjerkers. I was surprised how deeply funny the film is and marveling at how honestly it deals with many different kinds of loss – trust me, you’ll be laughing through your tears.
Synopsis: After a crash landing, a father and son explore a planet that was evacuated by humans 1,000 years earlier.
Release Date: June 7, 2013
Thoughts:The most impressive thing about this trailer is not some nice visual effects or the faint hope that Will Smith and son won’t mug their way through an entire movie. No, what impresses me most about this is the complete absence of the name of the director, M. Night Shyamalan. After his success with The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, and Signs, the once hot director flamed out with a growing list of absolute disasters in Hollywood due in large part to an ego the size of Texas. There was a time when Shyamalan’s name alone could be the centerpiece of a trailer but its total non-presence in this first preview for After Earth feels like a studio gun-shy about letting that particular cat out of the bag to audiences. I’m not sure how I feel about After Earth yet, not really being a fan of Shayamalan or the Family Smith…but perhaps it will be a return to form for all involved. One thing is for sure, if this is a bust the blame will fall squarely on Shyamalan’s shoulders.
Review: There are times when reviews of films tell you to ‘lower your expectations’ as way to soften the blow of an anticipated/hyped movie to expectant audiences. With Jack Reacher, my direction to you may be to ‘raise your expectations’…because what we have here is an immensely entertaining popcorn flick that showcases another strong 2012 performance from Mr. Cruise. Cruise has gotten such a bad rap in the last few years thanks to his infamous couch jumping moment, his devotion to Scientology, and a string of movies that seemed to be vanity showcases rather than actual performances.
The first movie I reviewed on this blog was my second viewing of Cruise’s Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol and it signaled a welcome change in the box office star. Perhaps humbled by middling box office returns of his high profile projects, Cruise seemed to come back to his Mission: Impossible character with a fresh attitude and relaxed stance. Now 50 years old, Cruise was excellent in an otherwise woefully miscalculated big screen adaptation of Broadway’s Rock of Ages this summer and he’s ending 2012 in perhaps his best performance yet.
With Jack Reacher, it’s interesting that Cruise is once again at the center of a fan uprising in relation to him playing a loved character that he doesn’t exactly fit the description of. Like the movie version of Interview with a Vampire (when author Anne Rice famously spoke out against the casting of Cruise as the vampire Lestat but then more famously ate her words when she saw the final product) as written Cruise is nowhere in the vicinity of the 6’5”, 220 pound grizzled former Military Police Major originally conceived by author Lee Child in his series of novels.
Having seen the film but not having read the novels, I can’t say that my ire was too up because Cruise dives headfirst into the role and relishes the chance to play a character with more grit than grin. This is a man who has seen the horrors of war and what it can do to people; he’s been in some dark places and can’t help but be affected by it. Instead of making Reacher a tortured, haunted soul, Cruise instead takes a more interesting approach, making him a straight-forward no-nonsense kind of guy – one that probably knows the answers to any questions he’s asking but is giving someone the opportunity to tell the truth before handing down justice.
After winning on Oscar for writing the screenplay for The Usual Suspects, director McQuarrie has kept a fairly low profile these past years. His first time in the director seat in twelve years, McQuarrie does double duty as director and adapted the script with it’s wonderful ear for dialogue. McQuarrie has always had a way with words and certain phrases/exchanges in Jack Reacher are so on the money that my jaw dropped a few times in a mixture of delight and shock.
Even with a nice zip to the dialogue, McQuarrie does stumble with more than a few awkward set-ups and clichéd circumstances that can pull the involved audience member back to reality. Most of these come courtesy of a pretty defense attorney Helen Rodin (Pike , Die Another Day) that employs Reacher when her client asks for him by name. Pike, who barely masks her UK accent by going for a gravely rasp (‘like a female Christian Bale’ my movie mate pointed out), has some great moments with Cruise but has just as many clunkers when left to her own devices to carry a scene. She’s always two steps behind the plot and the audience which can make for frustrating viewing.
McQuarrie has packed his film with fascinating looking actors…many of them unfamiliar to larger audiences. Acclaimed German filmmaker Herzog even does a little acting here as a scary character named The Zec. It’s true that much of Herzog’s dialogue tends to the overly dramatic but coming from a man with missing fingers and a dead eye, it fits nicely. Courtney is an evil treat as a deadly sniper and there is good supporting work from Oyelowo and Jenkins as law and order representatives working against Reacher and Helen. Duvall shows up in a fun supporting role well into the films 130 minute running time…I would have maybe liked to see the Oscar winner as a surprise cameo because when a star like him is mentioned in the credits you start to wonder when he’s going to make his appearance.
Pushing the limits of its PG-13 rating (which was generous considering some of the extreme violence), McQuarrie and cinematographer Caleb Deschanel don’t break any new ground with composition but they do stage some mighty fine action sequences…most notably a chase scene that takes us on a rough ride with Cruise around the city streets as he pursues a lead. With a very unobtrusive (and sometimes downright absent) score by Joe Kraemer, McQuarrie lets the scenes explode rather than merely simmer.
The opening of the film plays a central part in the story and it’s a case of unfortunately bad timing. By no fault of the filmmakers, Jack Reacher is being released just a week after a terrible tragedy of gun violence that has much of the country reeling. The sniper event and other passages involving guns absolutely put me on edge and I found myself holding my breath on several occasions. Audience reaction to the film may be dampened by recent events but I urge you to not fault the movie for its unlucky release date.
The character of Jack Reacher has surfaced in seventeen novels so far (this is based on One Shot, the ninth entry) and based on Cruise’s performance and McQuarrie’s invested direction/script I’d welcome the chance to see more of Mr. Reacher should this be the box office success Paramount Pictures is hoping for. After 2013’s Oblivionand All You Need is Kill, Cruise is rumored to be teaming up with McQuarrie for Mission: Impossible 5 so we may have to wait a bit…but if a sequel is half as good as this Cruise may have found another hit franchise he can settle into.
Synopsis: When a naive novice nun is discovered with a dead newborn in her convent quarters, a court appointed psychiatrist investigates her case.
Stars: Jane Fonda, Anne Bancroft, Meg Tilly
Director: Norman Jewison
Running Length: 98 minutes
TMMM Score: (3/10)
Review: Sometimes what works on the stage just does not translate well to film…cinematic history has shown us this. For someone so anti-war, Fonda really dropped a bomb on Hollywood with this ill-advised adaptation of John Pielmeier’s incendiary play. On paper, it would have been easy to see why many though that this film couldn’t lose…I mean with two Oscar winners in leading roles and a twice-Oscar nominated director at the helm, what could go wrong?
The answer, dear reader, is everything. Agnes of God is a pretty dreadful film that scatters the talents of all involved to the wind. Though it was nominated for three Oscars, I can’t for the life of me understand why this wasn’t chucked right out of theaters with its self serving performances and stupefying pacing.
Fonda (Peace, Love, and Misunderstanding) is a combative psychiatrist assigned to work on a case involving a young nun (Tilly, wild-eyed and vaguely interesting) charged with the murder of a young infant. The mystery of the film is how a seemingly cloistered nun became pregnant without anyone (including herself) knowing. The whole set-up is reminiscent of an episode of I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, adapted for an art-house audience. First supporting Fonda but then actively blocking her investigation is Bancroft as the chilly Mother Ruth that knows much more than she’s willing to let on. Bancroft and Fonda play off each other well for the most part but as the film progresses the actresses seem to be trying to one up the other with who can do the most tortured line reading. As Agnes, Tilly vacillates between detached naïveté and rolling on the ground hysteria…it’s a difficult role that earned her an Oscar nomination for her trouble.
To its credit, the movie starts off well and lays an appealing framework…but it’s driven off course by Jewison’s muddy direction and Pielmeier’s stage-bound script. Having never seen the play onstage, I can’t say if worked better in front of a captive audience but I’m guessing that it must have for it to have attracted such famous faces for the film version. Even at a relatively short 98 minutes the film feels like a series of stage-y scenes leading to a finale that’s overwrought and mostly unsatisfying. Considering all the people involved it’s a big disappointment.
Synopsis: When her mom is attacked and taken from their home in New York City by a demon, a seemingly ordinary teenage girl finds out truths about her past and bloodline on her quest to get her back.
Release Date: August 23, 2013
Thoughts: With the Twilightseries wrapped up and the next film in The Hunger Games saga a year away, studios are trying to replicates the success of these films with their own franchise starters. Beautiful Creatures comes out in February and August will bring this latest mixture of teen romance filtered through a lens of the supernatural.
I guess I’m just a little worn out with these “Teen discovers they are destined for something dangerous/greater and must fight the malevolent forces that threaten them” types of films. I’ve yet to be impressed with leading lady Lilly Collins – her brain dead, mouth breathing, performances in Mirror, Mirror and Abduction don’t bode well for being at the center of a potential six film series. All the same, director Harald Zwart worked some kind of magic with 2010’s The Karate Kid reboot so maybe, just maybe, this will be a decent kickstarter of a movie.
Synopsis: Uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn is paired with testy Boston cop Shannon Mullins in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. The hitch: neither woman has ever had a partner — or a friend for that matter.
Release Date: April 5, 2013
Thoughts: Since winning her Oscar for The Blind Side in 2009 Sandra Bullock has kept a low profile in Hollywood. With a supporting role in Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, she dipped her toe back in the cinema pond to good results and 2013 will bring two high profile projects for her. Gravity, an anticipated collaboration with George Clooney has been delayed to later in the year so that leaves us with The Heat.
Oh boy, this one looks like a rough one.
Reuniting the director of Bridesmaids (Paul Feig) with the true breakout star of that film (Melissa McCarthy) seems like a slam dunk…but if the trailer is any indication we are in for a laughless retread of any number of cop/buddy films. I recall that this film was made in a very short window that McCarthy had between projects and it has the whiff of a harried mess. McCarthy has another wack-o comedy out in February (Identity Thief) so who knows, the final product could play on the comedic strengths of both actresses but right now The Heat gets a cool reception from this reviewer.
Review: The last time that director Zemeckis filmed a live-action movie, he put Tom Hanks and a volleyball on an island in Cast Away after an intense and realistic plane crash sequence. In the decade that followed, Zemeckis focused on being a pioneer in the motion capture technology and yielded The Polar Express, Beowulf, and A Christmas Carol. Though none of these were the huge box office hits they were predicted to be (A Christmas Carol came close and should have done better…it was the unquestionable best of the three), Zemeckis still broke new ground and continued his history as an innovator.
Now directing his first R rated film since Used Cars in 1980, Zemeckis is back to using live actors for the impressive Flight. Don’t be fooled by the trailers that indicate a drama that centers on the aftermath of an airborne tragedy, this is a character study with a hard edge that challenges the viewer to come along for a bumpy ride. Like Silver Linings Playbook, this is a film with unexpected rewards with twists that can’t be telegraphed in advance and strong performances to anchor it.
I have to say, in the past few years I think that Washington has been coasting if you really look at the choices he’s made in films. Sticking largely to playing a variation of the same hero role, I was growing tired of entertaining yet another Washington flick where he has to save the day by land, air, or sea. He’s a consistently entertaining actor that is always the glue that holds the film together, but I didn’t see him challenging himself to do something bigger and better. In Flight, Washington the risk-taker is back with a performance that should net him another Oscar nomination.
Washington plays troubled veteran pilot Whip Whitaker who is piloting an airplane headed for disaster. Zemeckis makes it clear this is no kids film in the first five minutes and shows us full frontal female nudity and our lead actor ingesting alcohol, marijuana, and cocaine before even getting out of bed. Right away Washington brings us up to speed on where this character has come from and where he’s probably headed. Over the course of the film Washington doesn’t let us feel a lot of sympathy for Whitaker as he seems to be the only one that doesn’t learn a lesson from the tragedy he’s involved with. It’s a risky choice for an actor to play such an anti-hero…but it’s these types of roles that Washington has built an award-winning career on. Even so, this doesn’t feel like a retread of previous work…Washington is fully present and accounted for and gives one of the best performances I’ve seen from him (Glory still takes the cake for me).
Zemeckis has a nice eye for casting and he’s filled Flight with an array of curiously perfect players. Cheadle scores re-teaming with Washington (after 1995’s Devil in a Blue Dress) as a slick corporate attorney that doesn’t much like Whitaker. As a flight attendant, Tunie has a marvelous scene with Washington where we see a sad reckoning between friends. Oscar-winner Leo doesn’t come into the film until the last fifteen minutes but she gets some mileage out of a part best described as The Sigourney Weaver Role. Goodman grows tiresome as the movie goes on…but cut the guy a break…he’s been better in a number of movies released in 2012: ParaNorman, Trouble with the Curve, Argo, and Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close.
The real find here is Reilly as Washington’s girlfriend…a woman he meets in the hospital after the accident. He’s recovering from his injuries, and she’s recovering from an overdose. The striking Reilly deserves to share some of the limelight in the film for her work here…she’s a strong scene partner with Washington and an unusual choice for second banana. Zemeckis could have gone with a more recognizable actress but he made the right choice as British Reilly brings nuances to a woman brought back to life by hope. A really impressive performance…and I think you’ll agree once you’ve seen it.
As usual, Zemeckis has designed a top of the line visual experience for audiences. Like Cast Away, the plane crash sequence is quite frightening and should send any nervous fliers running for the Amtrak terminal. In the lengthy scene, I found myself alternately holding my breath and welling up on the rollercoaster of tension Zemeckis creates. It’s a startling passage of time in the movie but central to our understanding of what happens as a result.
Zemeckis, Washington, and screenwriter John Gatins have given us a very adult picture that doesn’t pull a lot of punches along the way. Our lead character is a seriously flawed individual that needs to find his own path to salvation, love, and forgiveness in a world of his own making. The film takes wing early on and though it experiences some turbulence along the way, this is a Flight you’ll be better off for having taken.
Synopsis: FBI agents track a team of illusionists who pull off bank heists during their performances and reward their audiences with the money.
Release Date: June 7, 2013
Thoughts: I’m all for movies that have a few nice tricks up their sleeves and Now You See Me looks to have some nifty ones waiting for us. Though not being released until June of 2013, I have high hopes for this caper film that boasts an impressive lineup of character actors from Morgan Freeman to Woody Harrelson. Never being a huge fan of Jesse Eisenberg (who essentially plays the same character in each film…he’s like an American Hugh Grant), I’m willing to give him another chance with this one. Movies about magic can be difficult because audiences don’t always like to feel like a film is pulling a fast one on them…but the premise looks interesting, the cast is appealing, and arriving at the start of the summer movie season could be a nice counter-programming move to the bombastic flicks that will surely be occupying every other theater at that time. Count me in for this.