Friday, April 29, 2011

Fast Five

Ok, I am a Vin Diesel junkie. All of his films are summer popcorn blockbusters and he knows it. He plays with the right amount of testosterone and self deprecating humor dripping off the screen. Fast Five is a great follower in the Fast & Furious franchise. We have transitioned out of a pure muscle and speed, car movie (of which I still think Tokyo Drift is the best entry) into a pretty good heist film. From the first heist (stealing cars of course) to the last (a well choreographed, old fashioned bank heist... sort of) there is never a dull moment. We steal from bad guy and utilize the team of experts, each with a specialty, to make things fun. My only complaint is the body count. Well over 100 and not really necessary. Violence alone is enough to make the rating wrong (PG-13? Really?). But summer is here. And like I said, I am a Vin Diesel junkie...
4 stars (out of 5)

Monday, April 25, 2011

The Fighter

I really haven't seen many films that Mark Wahlberg is a good fit for. This is pretty close. I haven't seen many films that Christian Bale is bad in either. This is no exception. Wahlberg plays a "minor league" boxer, trying to stay in the ring and get a shot at a title. His druggie brother (Bale) and manager mom seem to have good intentions without the ability to keep their own ego's in check. The highlight of this film may be the scenes with Wahlberg's gang of half-sisters who, let just say, are not the most intelligent folks on this planet. Any scene they enter is automatically over-the-top and somehow just right at the same time.
3 stars (out of 5)

Certified Copy

Starting out as an academic, philosophical discussion on the merits of "the original" vs. "a copy" turns into a living exploration of the subject. Certified Copy is a "walking and talking" film with basically two characters throughout (a la Before Sunset or Tape). Juliet Binoche is fabulous as always. The story begins with Binoche meeting up with an author whom she idolizes/respects/despises for an afternoon on the town. By the end of the film, we are left wondering if these two are role playing not knowing each other early, or knowing each other late. It is one of those films that by the end, you drive home thinking about whether you saw the beginning through the right lens. Engaging throughout.
4 stars (out of 5)

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Source Code

Excellent. In the tradition of 12 Monkees and Inception, this sci-fi, time-travel, alternate-reality thriller definitely brings its A-game. Jake Gyllenhaal is an Army helicopter pilot who was shot down in Afghanistan. When he comes to, he is disoriented and confused. It takes the first third of the film to clear up his confusion. It turns out that he is not part of a special program that allows him to be sent to an alternate reality to live out the last 8 minutes of another mans life. In this case, the man happens to be a passenger on a commuter train that blows up in a terrorist attack. Gyllenhaal is tasked with discovering the bomb and relaying that information back to his "actual reality" to prevent the bomb. As with any good alternate reality film, we are left sorting out the details of how exactly the time travel works, and how the pieces of continuity fit together. And in this case Source Code does not disappoint with the details. As much as possible, the film is consistent and clear and plausible, which makes it one step better than Inception because in the end it does not get to rely on everything being "a dream".
5 stars (out of 5)