by Tony Medley
Informant (10/10): With Marvin Hamlisch’s playful score
setting the tone, this fascinating comedic telling based on a true story
of corporate malfeasance is inventively directed by Steven Soderbergh
and delightfully acted by Matt Damon. If you don’t know anything about
it, it’s not what you expect, with constant twists and turns.
The Baader-Meinhof Complex (9/10): The
Baader-Meinhof Group (aka The Red Army Faction, or RAF), in
from 1967-77, was the first group of urban terrorists in the terror war.
Brilliantly directed and written by Uli Edel this takes a realistic view
of a very dangerous period in German history told basically from the
terrorists’ POV, filmed on the actual locations, when possible. The
acting is uniformly excellent. Throughout almost 2 ½ hours it never
drags. In German with excellent
before Chanel (9/10): Coco Chanel, unerringly played by
Audrey Tautou, was a lot more than the creator of the little black
dress. This film by director, co-writer Anne Fontaine is a fascinating
portrait of the trend-setting designer as a young woman, capturing how
she disdained propriety and truth to claw her way up from nowhere to
worldwide acclaim. (In French).
The Damned United (9/10): My enthusiasm
for soccer is nil, so when I say that this film is superb, you can take
it to the bank. It’s about Brian Clough’s (Michael Sheen) doomed 44 day
tenure as manager of the reigning champions of English football and how
the rivalry between Clough and Don Revie (Colm Meaney), Clough’s
predecessor as the Manager of Leeds United, deeply affected Clough. The
rich acting is what makes this film exceptional, headed by Sheen and
Timothy Spall, who plays Peter Taylor, Clough’s assistant manager and
best friend. Equal to them are Meaney as the overbearing Revie and Jim
Broadbent as Clough’s boss, Sam Longson.
Disgrace (8/10): John Malkovich, a
divorced Professor of romantic poetry in post-apartheid
South Africa, beds one of his students,
Antoinette Engel, and all hell breaks loose. This completely upsets his
life as well as his daughter’s, Jessica Haines, who lives in the South
African outback, where a brutal attack on the two of them by three
blacks leaves them emotionally devastated. This is a complex story about
emotions and relationships, using people and making compromises,
wonderfully acted by Malkovich and Haines.
My One and Only (7/10): Altthough one
must endure an entire film watching Renée Zellweger with that “I just
sucked a lemon” look on her face, director Richard Loncraine has
converted the real life story George Hamilton told to Merv Griffin into
an evocative, episodic, entertaining “Route 66” tale of the 1950s.
Love Happens (7/10): A romance without
much romance, but still a relatively entertaining trifle.
Bright Star (5/10): Director/co-writer
Joan Campion’s recreation of the romance between Romantic poet John
Keats (Ben Whishaw) and Fanny Brawne (Abbie Cornish) circa 1818-20
devotes so much to quotations of poems as dialogue written by Keats to
be read, not spoken, that my interest waned. Campion not only gives
short shrift to character development and context, she misleads her
audience about Fanny after Keats. Nevertheless, it is gorgeously
photographed by DOP Greig Fraser, and nothing with the delectable,
talented Cornish can be without merit.
All About Steve (1/10): Sandra Bullock
creates one of the most unsympathetic protagonists in the history of
film, a goofus who stalks Steve (Bradley Cooper) incessantly, and the
result is one of the worst movies I’ve ever had the misfortune to
endure. Even so, Cooper and Thomas
Church, as an egotistical TV
reporter, give admirable performances, despite the deplorable script and