Archive for drama

Changeling movie

Posted in Movies with tags , , on October 25, 2008 by funofmovie

Changeling: Drama.

Starring Angelina Jolie, John Malkovich and Jason Butler Harner.

Directed by Clint Eastwood. (R. 140 minutes. At Bay Area theaters. For complete movie listings and show times, and to buy tickets for select theaters, go to sfgate.com/movies.)

Clint Eastwood is in the midst of one of cinema’s most notable late growth spurts. Until he reached his 70s, he’d been a solid, above-average filmmaker with a signature style and a capacity for greatness. But since turning 70, Eastwood has been on a tear, with one masterpiece (“Million Dollar Baby”), one near-masterpiece (“Mystic River”) and a project of epic dimensions, the mirror-image World War II films “Flags of Our Fathers” and “Letters From Iwo Jima.”

“Changeling” maintains Eastwood’s creative streak. It might not be as exalted as “Million Dollar Baby,” but there are things about it that set it apart and make it one of the most enjoyable of his recent films. It’s a woman’s story, which is a departure for Eastwood. (Even “Million Dollar Baby” was about a woman as seen through the eyes of a man.) And because the story has no built-in aura of significance – because it’s simply a sad account of something that happened to somebody long ago – Eastwood’s abilities stand out in sharper relief. The history doesn’t make the movie important. Rather, Eastwood makes the history important.

He does it by simply taking a really good story and directing it well, though in fact there’s nothing simple about the artistic intelligence on display here. That intelligence permeates every aspect of the picture, and yet the hand is light, and if you don’t look for it, you might not notice it. Tom Stern’s cinematography, for starters, is a thing of subtle beauty. The colors are ever so slightly faded, and yet always there will be something in the frame that leaps out – a yellow cab, or Angelina Jolie’s lipstick.

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Pride and Glory review

Posted in Movies with tags , , , on October 24, 2008 by funofmovie

Pride and Glory: Action drama. Starring Edward Norton, Colin Farrell, Jon Voight and Noah Emmerich. Directed by Gavin O’Connor. (R. 125 minutes. At Bay Area theaters.)

Derivative, ugly and stupid. Sappy, sentimental and maudlin. Long, convoluted and opaque. Badly photographed, pompous and fake. “Pride and Glory” is more than just lousy; it’s an amalgam of every bad tendency of the current cinema, stitched together into a single 125-minute monstrosity of a cop movie.

Intended as a hard-hitting crime drama about a family of Irish American policemen, the film has no truth in it. The screenplay, by Joe Carnahan and director Gavin O’Connor, tries to hide its schmaltziness under a cascade of f-words. Can’t be done. The writing is phony, mushy and goofy, and having guys curse three times every sentence doesn’t disguise it. Nor does the f-word avalanche make the story any more realistic when, at its foundation, it’s bogus goods, a product of movie-watching, not genuine observation.

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The Elephant King movie

Posted in Movies with tags , on October 16, 2008 by funofmovie
The Elephant King movie

The Elephant King movie

Production Status:     In Production/Awaiting Release
Genres:     Drama
Running Time:     1 hr. 32 min.
MPAA Rating:     R for sexual content, drug use, language and some violence.
Distributors:     Unison Films
Production Co.:     Unison Films, De Warrenne Pictures
Filming Locations:     Thailand
Produced in:     United States

Starring:      Tate Ellington, Jonno Roberts, Florence Faivre, Ellen Burstyn, Josef Sommer

Directed by:     Seth Grossman

Produced by:     Ryan Brooks, Emanuel Michael, Tom Waller

The Elephant King” is a provocative and stirring story of two American brothers, Oliver and Jake Hunt, adrift in an exotic world they don’t fully understand. When a domineering mother dispatches her young, introverted son Oliver off to Thailand to do everything he can to lure his reckless, older brother back home to the United States to face pending fraud charges, Oliver finds the intoxication of Thailand hard to resist—especially when it has a face as alluring as Lek’s.

As Oliver falls deeply in love for the first time, Jake slips deeper into despair, and the seams of their relationship begin to come undone. When the true extent of Jake’s decadence and self-destruction is revealed to Oliver, he is forced to decide whether he will save his brother’s life or his own.

Max Payne movie

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , , on October 14, 2008 by funofmovie
Max Payne movie

Max Payne movie

Genre: Action, Adventure, Crime, Drama, Thriller

Duration: 1 hr. 39 min.

Starring: Beau Bridges, Chris ODonnell, Mark Wahlberg, Mila Kunis, Olga Kurylenko,

Director: John Moore

Producer: Julie Silverman, Scott Faye

Distributor: 20th Century Fox

Release Date: October 17, 2008

Writer: Beau Thorne based on the characters in the same game title by Sam Lake

There are guns blazing, mysterious winged creatures, a symbolic tattoo, an elusive blue elixir, an unresolved murder and big stunts, yet Max Payne is surprisingly lacklustre. Based on a video game, there’s plenty happening on screen, but it’s hard to feel much for any of the characters, even Mark Wahlberg’s brooding Max, who is obsessed to avenge the senseless murder of his wife and child.

The storytelling is secondary to the action with adverse results as director John Moore battles to create a credible world couched between reality and fantasy.

To me, the most striking element is the production design in which perpetual snow falls, gusts whirl over a snowy backdrop and torrential rain teems down soaking volatile characters at vulnerable moments.

When we first meet Wahlberg’s Max, he is freefalling in an ocean filled with dead bodies. In voice over, we hear that it is not heaven, in which he believes, but pain, fear and death. We quickly understand the world in which Max lives: one that involves loneliness, regret and hate. We watch in superficial fascination as Natasha (the stunningly beautiful Olga Kurylenko) tries to seduce Max, wearing a flimsy, ultra short red silk dress with thigh-high black boots, but he is only interested in her tattoo.

Then there’s Natasha’s hard-nosed sister Mona (Mila Kunis, unrecognisable from her likeable character in Forgetting Sarah Marshall), Chris O’Donnell as a drug company executive and Beau Bridges as BB Hensley, head of security. Frankly it’s hard to believe any of them. Amaury Nolasco however, is terrifying as Jack Lupino, whose handsome features are decorated by two large facial tattoos and whose demons come alive all too often.

There’s no shortage of firepower (Max shoots everyone in sight) and even if you ignore some of the plot’s unanswered questions, we are left with a cavalcade of bullets, noise and chaos.

The sum of the parts is more impressive than the whole and more’s the pity.

movie review by: Louise Keller

Blindness movie

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , , , , on October 2, 2008 by funofmovie

When a sudden plague of blindness devastates a city, a small group of the afflicted band together to triumphantly overcome the horrific conditions of their imposed quarantine.

Genres:     Art/Foreign, Drama, Thriller and Adaptation

Running Time:     2 hrs.

Release Date:    October 3rd, 2008 (wide)

MPAA Rating:     R for violence including sexual assaults, language and sexuality/nudity.

Distributors:   Miramax Films

Starring:       Don McKellar, Julianne Moore, Mark Ruffalo, Danny Glover, Alice Braga

Directed by:     Fernando Meirelles

Produced by:     Simon Channing-Williams, Gail Egan, Akira Ishii

Blindness – Blindness colors Cannes

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on October 2, 2008 by funofmovie

The Cannes International Film Festival, the most glamorous event on the festival calendar, returns to celebrate its 61st year from May 14 to 25.

It has kicked off with a bang with Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’s apocalyptic thriller Blindness, starring and .

It was directed by Fernando Meirelles’s from a novel by Portuguese Nobel Prize-winner Jose Saramago. The novel of the same name tells the apocalyptic story of a plague of blindness sweeping the world.

Blindness is Fernando Meirelles’ third film after his 2002’s thriller City of God and 2005’s The Constant Gardener.

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Balast movie by Lance Hammer

Posted in Movies with tags , on October 1, 2008 by funofmovie

Indie film’s ultra-realist overdose

Director: Lance Hammer
Writer: Lance Hammer
Genre: Drama

Starring:      Johnny McPhail

Running Time:     1 hr. 36 min.
Release Date:     October 1st, 2008 (limited)
Distributors:     Alluvial Film Company
Lance Hammer’s film “Ballast,” a critical favorite earlier this year at Sundance, begins with a remarkable shot, one of those shots that stick with you long after the rest of the movie has become a jumbled memory. A boy or young man in a down coat, seen from the rear, walks through the weeds into a flat, horizontal field, probably one where corn or cotton or soybeans are grown. From the coat and the light and the empty field, it appears to be winter, although part of the seductive power of “Ballast” is that elemental questions like where and when go unanswered. As the boy advances, a flock of scavenging birds — likely a murder of crows — explodes out of the field, and this almost painterly composition abruptly becomes a chaotic whirlwind.
It’s a heavily symbolic, “auteurist” image, one that seeks to present the film’s story in a single allegorical vision and also to suggest that the film’s characters have a close relationship to the natural landscape. (Closer, that is, than you and I.) “Ballast” was shot on 35 mm film using only natural light, specifically the winter light of the rural American South, a courageous and unlikely thing for a low-budget debut director to do in the age of hand-held video. Hammer and cinematographer Lol Crawley get breathtaking wide-screen results, in this opening scene and many others. But when I say that I’m never sure what “Ballast” is about, from beginning to end, I mean that I suspect that the film’s ambitious form and style are its true subject, and that its poor, African-American characters are themselves elements of that form, or colorful accessories to it.

Let’s back up for a second here, before I get involved in issuing some complicated indictment I may regret. My job in this column (as I see it) is to call attention to movies you might otherwise miss, worthwhile and provocative works likely to get minimal publicity and minimal distribution. “Ballast” is clearly one of the signal accomplishments of American independent film in 2008, and Hammer (previously a visual-effects designer on Hollywood films, including, amazingly enough, the execrable “Batman & Robin”) has embarked on a noble if quixotic mission to self-distribute it after retrieving the rights from IFC. As he correctly observed, his peculiar little film was likely to get lost amid that company’s crowded roster of Amerindies and imports. So now he’s trying to persuade strangers to see an unsummarizable, slow-moving picture about poor black people in the middle of the worst recession anyone can remember. It’s a haunting and beautiful experience and if you get the chance you shouldn’t miss it; whether you like “Ballast” or not, it’ll make an impression on you. Have we cleared that up?

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