Saturday, September 22, 2007

Eastern Promises

The new film from Director, David Cronenberg, delivers the goods. Following up "A History of Violence", "Eastern Promises" once again teams Mr. Cronenberg with Viggo Mortensen who is outstanding in an Oscar caliber performance.

The story gives us a glimpse into the shadowy world of the Russian mob where Mr. Mortensen is a "driver" working for Vincent Cassel, and his father, played by Armin Mueller-Stahl. Mr. Cassel is excellent as the spoiled, cowardly son and Mr. Mueller-Stahl is absolutely chilling as the mob boss who goes from loving to violently cruel in the blink of an eye. As the midwife who accidentally finds herself immersed in this world, Naomi Watts holds her own with her male co-stars.

Part of the genius of "Eastern Promises" lies in the minimum acts of violence that are so graphic that they resonate throughout the film, making it seem far more violent than it really is. This is signature Cronenberg and his style breathes life into these characters like no other director. The film is intense, absorbing and aside from one plot point that bothered me, just terrific.

Friday, September 07, 2007

3:10 to Yuma

Not quite a remake but more of a enhanced version, "3:10 To Yuma" is a new take on the classic American western, based on a short story by Elmore Leonard. I have to admit, I love a good western and "Yuma" doesn't disappoint.

Russell Crowe is just magnetic as the dashing criminal, Ben Wade. Playing against him is Christian Bale as rancher, Dan Evans, who ends up part of the group escorting Wade to the 3:10 prison train to Yuma. Mr. Crowe is just terrific, whether he's turning on the charm or killing one of his own men. Mr. Bale, as usual disappears into his character, and while it's the less showy part, he brings an air of realism to the role.

The film also features Ben Foster, playing an intense sociopath (so good in these types of roles), Peter Fonda as a aged bounty hunter, Dallas Roberts, and Gretchen Mol as Mr. Bale's wife. The film is directed by James Mangold, who directed "Walk The Line".

Expect serious confrontations, lots of gunplay, beautiful scenery and even a few surprises.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Mr. Bean's Holiday

If you are the type who convulses with laughter watching Rowan Atkinson's facial distortions and physical contortions, then "Mr. Bean's Holiday" is for you. Otherwise avoid it like the plague.

The biggest mystery surrounding this 80 minute endurance test is why Willem Defoe would agree to be in it. He must really be hurting for a paycheck.

The attempts at humor are so lowbrow they barely leave the ground. In all fairness, I did snicker at the French restaurant scene, which involved a cameo by a French acting legend, Jean Rochefort. I guess he needed the money as well.