Friday, January 9, 2009

2009 Movie Commentary (Early in the Year)


I know but I'm not telling. What makes this movie good is "Not Knowing" the ending. The acting is good, special effects are good, but the movie moves at a slow pace. I didn't mind that but others might. For those of you that like to contemplate issues like life after death, events in life being predetermined or random, how life on earth may have begun, etc. you will enjoy this movie. I would say it definitely has religious undertones.

Although it got 4 stars in our paper and I liked the movie I'm not sure it deserves more than a solid 3 O's.


The International

Well I was surprised when Cathie wanted to see "The International" on Valentines Day instead of "Confessions of a Shopaholic" but I learned Cathie's mother said Shopaholic was so/so. Well Gramma Bet, so was "The International". We both loved Clive Owen's acting but for an espionage film it was just too slow and too long. It was also hard to hear what they were saying some of the time. I still can't see what makes Naomi Watts a big actress but I will admit she has a great name. I also enjoyed the acting of Armin-Mueller-Stahl. Hard to explain who he is other than an old man that you will recognize from seeing him in many, many films. I looked up his bio and I believe he's had parts in as many as 100 movies.

There was nothing out of the ordinary in this film. Cathie gives it 2 O's and I'll bump it up a notch to 2.5 O's. Best to wait for the DVD ...



It was good to see Liam Neeson (Schindler's List) back in action. He was very believable as a single father trying to rebuild his relationship with his only daughter after being away for most of her life working for the US Government as a "Preventer". Liam's ex wife does not make it easy for him to make amends with his daughter and stands between the two. His daughter goes to France with a friend against Liam's better judgment and gets abducted by an Albanian sex ring. Now it's time for Liam to use his special training to rescue his daughter.

"Taken" does a good job of setting up the plot and characters before the kidnapping takes place and does it efficiently time wise. Once the action starts hold onto your seat. A really fun movie to watch so anyone that is a "Bourne Identity" fan that needs a "Bourne Fix" while waiting for the next Bourne film this will do it. Liam is not Matt Damon but does a solid job.


The Wrestler

Well, Mickey Rourke plays a Slumdog but he's not a millionaire. Just an over the hill wrestler that by his words is a broken down piece of meat. Someone that has lived life by burning the candle on both ends. Unfortunately for him the drugs, steroids, and abuse of painkillers have caught up with him and he's forced to deal with the consequences. Now it's time to try and rebuild the relationship with the daughter he neglected and forge a relationship with a 45 year old stripper (Marisa Tomei). In my opinion this movie would have been a total bomb had his character not been a really nice guy that for some reason earns your sympathy. I think the lesson that can be learned is that no matter how many faults you have most people will overlook them provided you are a sincerely nice person.

"The Wrestler" will define Mickey Rourke's carrier. From what I understand Rourke has lived a troubled life but I think it was his past that enabled him to pull off this role. His character showed extreme vulnerability but owned up to all the failures of his past. I think it's refreshing to see someone take personal responsibility for their predicament and not blame others. His performance was truly Oscar worthy whether he wins or not. Marisa Tomei should be given a badge of courage for the role she played. Being 45 years old and bearing it all to the world as a stripper could not have been easy for her. She may however be rewarded for the risk he took by getting an Oscar for best supporting actress. Fortunately for her she still has an attractive body and was believable in the role.

Yes it is justifiably critically acclaimed but don't feel like you have to rush out to see "the Wrestler". The movie is very raw and the wrestling scenes are gory. His life is anything but glamorous. Only go if you are prepared to do a little soul searching. It will stick with you for awhile after seeing.



Defiance is a true story about 3 brothers that helped protect a large number of Jews from Nazi Germany's brutal attempt of extermination by hiding them in the forest. Daniel Craig (aka James Bond) plays the lead role and proves he is a true character actor. He pulled off the Eastern European accent perfectly and has an amazing ability to carry the pain and suffering in his facial expressions. Of course he is a mere mortal and does not possess any James Bond larger than life fighting capabilities. I found the movie very interesting and well worth telling. In all they kept 1,200 people alive by the end of the war and there are now tens of thousands of descendants from the survivors. WOW! Sounds more like a tale about rabbits.

The acting was good and the story interesting but the movie was a little lacking. Maybe it just moved a little too slow. This movie will never do the box office numbers Valkyrie is doing but it has one thing Valkyrie doesn't have. A main actor that can look, act and sound like someone from Eastern Europe. I wonder how Daniel Craig would have looked with an eye patch.


Gran Torino

Who would have thought making a movie about a cantankerous old man could be so entertaining. Gran Torino's main character Walt Kowalski (played by Clint Eastwood) reminds us of our Fathers and grandfathers. No nonsense men who grew up in tough times and fought in the Great Wars. They were a tough breed who protected the pain they carried from the atrocities they witnessed under a thick and hardened outer shell. Clint Eastwood was both actor and director of Gran Torino. His character was not too different than the one he played in the movie "Unforgiven". Tough as nails and full of flaws but honorable deep down inside. Add in what he learned from directing "Million Dollar Baby" and the recently released "Changling" and you've got one fine film. Although this movie was very much a drama it was loaded with laughs. (Just a warning that although his character was an Army veteran in the movie he swore like a sailor)

At 78 Clint's still got that signature cold stare and is still believable as a force to be reckoned with although it's necessary to use a little more brain than brawn these days. He stayed well within the capabilities of his age which made the move believable. As a director he did a fabulous job of making no name actors look like long time professionals.

This may have been Clint Eastwood's greatest performance as an actor as he seemed to be in almost every scene and carried the movie on his back. For those of you that don't know this is supposedly his final movie as an actor. I would say Clint went out in "Gran Fashion" and proceeded to "Make my Day". It doesn't get any better than this. The audience even broke into applause at the end of the movie. I give Gran Torino a big Four O's.


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