Sunday, October 02, 2005

September Round-Up

9/9/05 4:40 at the Union Square United Artists - Green Street Hooligans

Entertaining at times but completely undeserving of a theatrical release; would have been much more effective as a rental or an HBO world premiere. If you absolutely can’t resist seeing it in theaters, a brilliant performance by former-Undeclared star Charlie Hunnam legitimizes the trip to the Cineplex. Barely recognizable from his days as a pretty boy drama student in that wonderful Fox sitcom from 2001, his performance oozes charisma and ferocity. The subject matter of unruly Soccer hooligans and their sub-culture is interesting enough and the pub-heavy London setting is richly absorbing but some redundant dialogue, poorly scripted voice-over and overtly melodramatic domestic scenes hinder any chance it has from rising above a Lifetime version of Fight Club.

9/17/05 1:00 at the 19th Street Loews – Lord of War

One of my most anticipated releases of the fall and sadly one of my biggest disappointments. This is not to say Lord of War is a bad movie, not in the least, it’s just a decent movie with some spectacular scenes scattered throughout. The brown-brown hallucination scene in particular stands out as one of the more memorable scenes from this year. Sadly the film is bogged down by a narcoleptic voice-over from Nicolas Cage that intrudes on the soundtrack at an alarming frequency. Cage’s delivery isn’t half as charming and entertaining without simultaneously seeing his entire charismatic persona on screen. The movie also follows the Goodfellas formula a little too closely and I think the film would have benefited from a pared down approach focusing on a more contained temporal space as I found myself very restless during the first 45 minutes of excessive exposition. Although limiting the scale of the story would limit the epic character study the film is attempting to achieve and it cannot be ignored that the ending message is a powerful one. The opening credits deserve special attention for being an extremely inventive and entertaining title sequence that also manages to incorporate the film’s dominant theme in some 3 minutes of screen time.

9/18/05 10:15 at the 19th Street Loews – Proof

Hard to find much to say about this one other than that it’s a pretty solid crowd pleaser with great acting. The film plays things pretty safe, and that’s a virtue, it doesn’t try to overreach its boundaries and is content with retaining the intimacy of the stage play rather than trying to expand its issues and locations. Anthony Hopkins turns in a characteristically flawless performance riding strong on his Errol Flynn-like international accent and his twinkling blue eyes. Gwyneth Paltrow and Jake Gyllenhaal also give sterling performances that make this very “chatty” screenplay spring to life with engaging characters. Wont find anything groundbreaking here but it’s a guaranteed good time at the movies.

9/23/05 2:20 at the Union Square United Artists – Thumbsucker

An incredibly strong ensemble of disparate actors buoys this coming-of-age narrative that can’t quite compare to the bevy of accomplished performances. Not a weak link out of the entire cast: Lou Pucci, Vincent D’Onofrio, Tilda Swinton, Keanu Reeves, Vince Vaughn, Benjamin Bratt and Kelly Garner; all give layered and personalized performances. It is apparent that all the actors have taken their roles very seriously and capture painstaking detail in fleshing out their characters. Vince Vaughn’s frumpy jacket during the debate conference is an unforgettably hilarious and honest choice of costume design. However the film itself feels even more heavily medicated than the lead character and thus it lends itself to self-indulgence by way of excessive slow motion and general lethargy.

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