Friday, August 8, 2008

The Bank Job

Sometimes I want to watch a film strictly for who is directing it. The Bank Job only made my Netflix queue because of the great director Roger Donaldson (13 Days, No Way Out, White Sands, Species, Cocktail) was the man behind it. Donaldson has a way of making movies exciting...even Cocktail... and Dante's Peak for that matter. He specializes in thrillers so when the halfway point of The Bank Job rolls around and the shit hits the fan... boy does it ever.

Our story begins with the lovely Martine (Saffron Burrows) asking her old flame Terry (Jason Statham) if he is interested in doing a little job with her. A sort of last heist so both of them can get out of the business. Terry isn't really in the heisting business and is skeptical of the offer. He finds out that Martine is really being asked to cooperate for a British MI5 agent that got her out of a drug smuggling charge. You see the British lads need to get some compromising photos out a safety deposit box in order to charge an upstart young hood Michael X (Peter De Jersey). As I said before... halfway through the light tone takes a hard turn. Things get veeeeeeeeeery complicated when it goes into thriller mode.

All of the actors are impeccably well chosen no matter how small the part... and boy there is a lot of speaking parts here. I got quite a few twists and turns including two WTF moments... one involving a sandblaster. Donaldson does a great job of getting the entire look too... the costume dept and everyone on the film deserves high praise.

The only downside is perhaps there are a few too many threads to be woven together here. The last 45 minutes gets very deep into the details. Not a lot of loose ends either. How much of the story is actually true is questionable as well. No matter what the answer to that may be, The Bank Job is flat out entertaining. In a marketplace with so many stupid films (eyeballing you Vantage Point), it is a pleasure to see a great director work with this much talent.


X-Files: I Want to Believe

This film hasn't been given a fair shake at all. I think a lot of the criticism has come from non-fan reviews and casual fans. For the hardcore fans of the series, I Want to Believe delivers the goods on what we realy want: Mulder and Scully. The plot takes a backseat to their relationship.

Let's get to the plot first. Mulder (David Duchovny) has been living in exile when a young FBI agent is kidnapped. Another agent in charge (Amanda Peete) reaches out to Scully (Gillian Anderson) to help her locate Mulder so he can use his unique skills to find the missing girl. The audience (and Mulder) is lead to believe that suddenly the FBI is all forgiving and will let the the two back without consequences. Mulder decides it is worth the chance to help sort out the mystery. Here is where it gets a little foggy. The only lead the FBI has is a reformed molester who happened to be a priest that still goes by the moniker Father Joe (Billy Connolly). Father Joe claims to have pyschic abilities and in fact led the FBI to a field with a maimed arm. Whether or not the good Father has a hand in this is the mystery.

Much of the plot was kept on the down low for reasons unbeknownst to me. Nothing in it is that original other than you do have a legitamite WTF moment half way through. The real story is Mulder's attempt to reconcile who he is and Scully's questions of faith in a fucked up, apeshit world. Ultimately those of the two major themes of the series so to say this is unexpected would be to reveal you to be a nonfan.

I think if you go into the film knowing that it is very low budget(Half the original film's budget) and expect a good longer episode you'll be fine. The interplay between the leads is still some of the best you can find. It is also a pleasure to see Duchovny in something smarter than the lackluster Californication. Series creator Chris Carter wrote/directed the film with a limited feel for visuals. It might have been better to obtain someone a bit more skilled with the camera to make the film look a little bigger. This one looks and feels small. Carter also makes a horrible casting decision with Exhibit as another FBI agent...terrible terrible. What was TI doing...oh yeah he's in jail.


Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Year of Living Dangerously

Some movies start out with a deeper meaning or rather to come across as deep and fail miserably. Some strive for big ideas and are mediocre. This is a mediocre tale from awesome director Peter Weir (Mosquito Coast, Master and Commander, Truman Show, Dead Poets Society). Guy Hamilton (Mel Gibson) is a young journalist on his first real foreign assignment in Indonesia around the same time that whole conflict in Vietnam was starting up. Hamilton is teamed with a freelance camerman Billy Kwan(Linda Hunt playing a dude). Billy has adopted a woman and her son as his own and believes Guy could be the one journalist to blow the lid off the tragedies taking place there. Along the way Guy meets a hottie working in the British Embassy (Sigourney Weaver) and falls in love. Their relationship is compromised when a story comes between them that could not only destroy them, but get Guy killed in the process.

All of this makes The Year of Living Dangerously sound a lot more glamorous and high minded then the resulting film. Weir clearly loves the humanity of the project, but you never really get a true sense of the plight of the people. Only vague moments provide you a small glimpse into the true atrocities going on. Everything else is a young Weir trying to find his filmmaking self. The actors are fine especially Weaver who classes up a somewhat thankless role.

Nothing special here unless you want to see the evolution of Weir as a director. For this is the only reason I gave it a shot in my Netflix queue. Slight thumbs up for the solid talents behind a subpar script.