Rimmer's Reel Reviews

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Good Night and Good Luck - 4.75 out of 5

George Clooney showed some flourish with his directing debut Confessions of a Dangerous Mind an entertaining but somewhat flawed film, with Good Night and Good Luck he firmly establishes himself as one of the best talents behind the camera. The story of Edward R Murrows fight against McCarthyism could have been done in and over handed preachy style but Clooney has done it in an understated calm manner, which lends more power to the films central theme.

The screenplay for this film is absolutely electric as it weaves its tale of a journalist taking a stand against McCarthy's rampant fear mongering. The themes are particularly thought provoking today as the US is once again living in a climate of fear that has been fuelled by today’s world of 24-hour news. Edward R Murrow proved that one man can make a difference and fight the fear, here's to hope that someone can take the message and try to stop the cycle of fear that exists today.

The acting in the film is top notch from all the performers but David Strathairn is absolutely amazing as Edward R Murrow. I would be very disappointed not to here his name called when the Oscar nominations are announced.

In conclusion an astounding film that should garner many awards and be at the top of most year-end best of lists.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Batman Begins 4 out of 5

After 4 films with differing leads and creative teams the WB has finally got the elements together to create a Batman film that is truly entertaining but still fateful to the Batman comic book legacy. It wasn't too dark and dour like the first two films or two campy or over the top like Schumacher films. This film struck the perfect balance.

I think one of the best moves for this film was the casting of Christian Bale as Wayne/Batman as he was the first who was able to be successful in playing both Batman and Bruce Wayne (easily the best portrayal of all the Batman’s). The supporting cast of Oldman (Gordon), Caine (Alfred) and Neeson in his typical mentor role bring depth to each of their characters which helps enrich the overall storyline helps them from avoiding becoming the cartoon cut-outs that litter the other Batman films.

Director Nolan and Writer Goyer have woven a great tapestry for Batman, by going back to the beginning they are able to shed the garbage of the previous films and start fresh. They are very successful in creating a compelling back-story of a flawed hero trying to overcome his fears and failures, attempting to help the helpless. They also have created a very interesting city in Gotham that is on the verge of collapse as the criminals have the reins of control and the cops are helpless to do anything (or are paid of not to).

The only flaw in this film revolves around the character Rachael Dawes played by Katie Holmes. The character added as childhood friend of Bruce Wayne and possible love interest seemed to be tacked on and didn't add anything to the story. Also Katie Holmes failed to add anything to the character giving me the impression any C-List starlet could have done better.

In conclusion I am happy to say that the past has been purged, we have a real Batman and I look forward to the future of the franchise.

Thursday, December 08, 2005

Syriana - 3.5 out of 5

The pedigree for this film is pretty good, Oscar winning writer in Stephen Gaghan (Traffic) and a long list of top-notch actors including George Clooney, Matt Damon and Chris Cooper. Based on the Book See No Evil By Robert Baer it a story packed with many different elements (and personal stories) that move towards a common climax similar in style to the film Traffic.

The performances in this film are all top notch with particular standout turns from Chris Cooper as an oil executive and Jeffery Wright as a corporate lawyer, both of which make you want to see more of them as they bring such energy to the screen. Gaghan used hand held camera to shoot the film (same as was done for Traffic) to give the film a more realistic feel to the movie, which works well in bringing you into the action.

The story is interesting in its exploration of the oil industry and its dealing within the US as much of the movie revolves around the merger of two Oil companies and how even though there is obvious corruption involved in some of the dealings the government is willing to be thrown a sacrificial lamb to ensure the merger and US interests. Also the US meddling in the Middle East politics siding with the status quo in Iran as opposed to actual progress in infrastructure and social reforms to maintain their supply of oil.

The main problem with this film is that it seems to lack individual stories that are as interesting as the overall tapestry. It seems that to with the large cast with many stories some haven't been given enough attention to flesh them out and make them as significant as they could be. Also having multiple stories had a huge impact on the pacing of the movie as it shifts between characters and scenes too quickie to gather any momentum. To me it feels like they have crammed a 3-hour movie into 2 hours.

Overall a very interesting movie especially considering how topical it is.

Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Get Rich or Die Tryin - 1.5 out of 5

I must say when I first heard the 50 Cent was going to do a movie "based" on his life I was less them excited to as it sounded like just wanted to be like Eminem and do his own 8 Mile. However when I saw that that Jim Sheridan was attached to direct I was willing to give this movie a chance cause if anyone can do a good job of showing the underdog overcoming his environment to be a success its him.

I must say that the feel of the film was good as it came across a grittier version of 8 Mile (I film which I enjoyed more then I expected) and there were several great performances from the supporting cast especially Terence Howard and Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje who give their all here.

In spite of the good performances and quality direction the film fails to amount to much of anything for several reasons. The first is that the screenplay (written by emmy winner Terence Winter) is filled with cliches including a laughable "Rocky" montage. The film also had a real been there done that feel as the rapper rags to riches has a been there done that feel with * mile and the excellent Hustle & Flow still in recent memory. The biggest problem with the movie was with its star 50 Cent. He just doesn't have bring the charisma to the screen that Eminem brought to 8 mile, seemed to mumble through his lines, and for any sense involving any type of emotion had the same stone dead look on his face.

Overall a quality director in Sheridan did as much for this film to make it entertaining but was ultimately betrayed by a clichéd screenplay and a wooden lead.

Down By Law - 4.5 out 5

Having become a fan of Jim Jarmusch through his last few films I felt is was time to start looking back at some his older films so I decided rent Down By Law. I must say that once again he has impressed me in providing a stylish, funny, yet simplistic film that is very cool.

The story is pretty simple with two slackers named Jack & Zack (Lurie & Waits) who get set up and end up in a jail cell together with an Italian who speaks little English (Benigni) and their escape from that cell. The interaction between the three characters is the meat of this film and all three actors do a brilliant job handling it with great chemistry between them providing great laughs.

Jim Jarmusch stamp is all over the visual styling and pacing of this film. The B&W is used the great impact similar to his film Dead Man giving a very surreal feel. The thin plot moves slowly letting you soak in the beautiful shots and really get enjoy the character interaction which as I have said is the true centre of this film. This is a film for true fans of independent cinema but may be deemed as "slow" or "dull" by the regular movie going crowd.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

Rent Review - 2 out of 5

A couple of years ago I saw a touring production of Rent as it passed through town and I wasn't particularly impressed by the production. When I heard they were making a film I must say that I wasn't exactly eager to go see it, but with free tickets in hand and a wife who was excited I broke down and went.

I have to give Kudos to the performers in this film as they definitely know this material well (obviously as most have performed Rent on Broadway) and I found I enjoyed this much more then the stage production as these people are the real deal and the people I saw before were a cheap imitation. Jesse L Martin & Rosario Dawson really stood out in their respective performances. The only knock against the performers is that since many have been performing this material since the mid 90s it can be hard believing that they are 20 something Bohemians when they are starting to look their age.

Though it was better then I anticipated it still really doesn't work for various reasons. The first is that Chris Columbus doesn't truly turn it into a real movie, as we move through the movie from performance to performance it retains the feel of a stage production. Second is the threadbare plot and character development that never really grabs. One important portion of the movie revolves around the death/funeral of Angel is supposed to be moving and tragic but just doesn't pack any punch as we don't really get to know Angel as he/she is barely a secondary character with little screen time. The final problem is that the material is really out of date. Written in the mid 90s the topic of AIDS has been done in a much better fashion (Angels In America) and to such a degree to now be rife for parody (See Team America's hysterical RENT spoof "Everyone Has AIDS").

Overall better then expected but not a movie I would recommend.