October 07 Thumbnails
by Tony Medley
The Kingdom (10/10): It
doesn’t matter who the stars are (Jamie Fox, Chris Cooper, and Jennifer
Garner, as admirable FBI agents), because this is the director’s movie.
Peter Berg captures the non stop action, tension, and unabashed violence
of the Islamic Jihad as it fictionally erupts in Saudi Arabia, greatly
enhanced by Danny Elfman’s music and Mauro Fiore’s
cinéma vérité-like cinematography. This old-fashioned patriotic
movie, without a breath of cynical Hollywood criticism of American
involvement in the war on terror, shows what it must feel like to be
standing next to a suicide bomber and how brutal the conflict is. At the
end, it realistically implies that it won’t be over soon, regardless of
Eastern Promises (9/10):
A brilliantly acted and directed film that is marred by graphic
violence and a Hollywood Twist that strained my credulity. The way Naomi
Watt’s face expresses her thoughts with just the most miniscule of
twitches is captivating to watch. It’s to director David Cronenberg’s
discredit that he chose to emphasize the visual mayhem while sublimating
the psychological terror of the enslaved young girls which form the
basis of the film. Still, it’s highly entertaining so long as you can
close your eyes to the mayhem.
The Brave One (9/10):
This is a rare film these days, one made by professionals who know what
they are doing. It is expertly directed by Neil Jordan, with a
scintillating performance by Jodie Foster, ably backed up by Terrence
Howard. From start to finish this is a film that compels your attention.
3:10 to Yuma (7/10):
While it’s enjoyable to see Russell Crowe and Christian Bale, two of the
best actors extant, emote together, Gretchen Mol is so perfectly coifed,
she doesn’t look like any farmer’s wife ever seen in the southwest in
the late 19th Century. Every scene emphasizes that the actors
came straight from several hours in Makeup to shoot their scenes. So
much for recreating the Old West. It’s too bad the film has a Hollywood
Ending that destroys any verisimilitude the interesting script had
My Kid Could Paint That
(7/10): This fascinating documentary of the painting career of
4-year-old Maria Olmstead shows what can happen when two naïve parents
trust people like Charlie Rose and institutions like 60 Minutes.
On the one hand an indictment of modern art; on the other it shows the
danger of trusting the media. The Olmsteads seem like nice, gentle
people who got in over their heads and didn’t realize what inviting the
media into their lives could do to their daughter and their family.
(Opens October 5).
The Game Plan (7/10):
Finally a Hollywood film that recognizes the importance of a father in a
child’s life. Star turns by Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and cute
7-year-old Madison Pettis make the most of an occasionally clever,
occasionally saccharine script that unfortunately relies on some
unrealistic situations, and a 110-minute running time that is at least
30 minutes too long.
Sleuth (6/10): Despite
innovative camera angles by director Kenneth Brannagh, a script by
Harold Pinter, and cutting the running time from 139 to 86 minutes, this
is but a shadow of the original, mainly because Michael Caine is no
Laurence Olivier and Jude Law is no Michael Caine. (Opens October 12).
Great World of Sound
(3/10): Even though this too-long film about song sharking is
interesting, as with many Hollywood films about business people it has
the weight of a helium balloon, too cartoonish to establish credibility.
The one bright spot is Kene Holliday, who is convincing as a scam artist
up from the street.