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Archive for November, 2006

DÉJÀ VU – Harry Gregson-Williams

November 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

I’ve always wondered why so many critics and media personalities have tried to pin everything that is bad about Hollywood on Tony Scott. There are plenty of no-talent hacks working in the world of film today, but Scott simply isn’t one of them. He is a director who, without fail, turns in a reasonably intriguing popcorn film with slick production values and a high watchability factor. Has he inspired the so-called “MTV Movie” style of filmmaking, full of innumerable cuts and jerky camera work? Possibly, but when Scott himself is at the helm, it works. However, his recent films have simply been too much for some people, with all the insanely wild visual ideas he lathered over “Man on Fire” and “Domino”. Many people felt Scott needed to be reigned in a bit, to return to a slightly less hyper form. Who is the man to help guide Scott in this matter? Why, none other than Jerry Bruckheimer, of course! Laugh if you want, but it seems that Bruckheimer has helped Scott shape a reasonably-paced, smarter, sharper, more intelligent film than we’ve been seeing in recent years with “Déjà Vu”. Does it have the remarkable energy of “Domino” or the violent-religious-parable intrigue of “Man of Fire”? No, but it’s a better film than both of those, easily his strongest work since “Crimson Tide”. Read more…

THE FOUNTAIN – Clint Mansell

November 22, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

The Fountain is the latest film from director Darren Aronofsky, whose debut film Pi was a cult success in 1998, and whose 2000 follow up Requiem for a Dream earned massive critical acclaim, as well as an Oscar nomination for actress Ellen Burstyn. The Fountain, in terms of scope, is his most ambitious effort yet. It stars Hugh Jackman, Rachel Weisz and Ellen Burstyn (again) and is about nothing less than quest for immortality. Jackman stars as pharmaceutical drug developer Tommy Creo, who is desperately trying to save his wife Izzy (Weisz), who is afflicted with an inoperable brain tumour. Izzy is a writer, and has been researching a book about a medieval quest to find the fabled Fountain of Youth, with Queen Isabel (Weisz) sending a Conquistador (Jackman) to New Spain to find it. Intercut with these two stories is a third timeline which takes place in the 26th century, and focuses on a man named Tom (Jackman), who is taking a space trip in the company of a giant tree. Yes, you did read that last sentence correctly. Read more…

BOBBY – Mark Isham

November 17, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

“Hey, good evening ladies and gents, it’s time for a great big exciting night of entertainment, with all your favorite stars! Along the way, you’ll have some laughs, shed a couple tears, maybe learn a couple of things, and most of all, see a lot of the beautiful faces you know and love! We now take you live to the Ambassador Hotel for a great evening of entertainment! Oh, and you’ll also see Robert Kennedy get killed.”

Is it just me, or does “Bobby” feel way too much like “Grand Hotel 1968”, or perhaps an Irwin Allen movie? I’m not criticizing the fact that a politically-charged film dealing with a serious event in American history has a huge, star-studded cast, but I am criticizing the way the movie uses them. Emilio Estevez’s “Bobby” is, at it’s best, a vivid snapshot of a particular time in America. At it’s worst, it’s a cheap love letter to all things Kennedy, paired with some silly soap operas as dramatic filler. Read more…

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CASINO ROYALE – David Arnold

November 17, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Jonathan Broxton

When you think about it in terms of numbers, the James Bond franchise is pretty damn impressive. 007’s screen history reaches back 40 years, comprises 21 movies, and has a combined box-office gross of over $1.3 billion (or $3.3 billion if you adjust it for inflation). No wonder the franchise is considered to be amongst the most successful and important in all of cinema. We’ve had ten directors, nine composers, and now we’re on to our sixth leading actor: Daniel Craig, stepping into the sharp tuxedo vacated by Pierce Brosnan at the end of Die Another Day, and ordering the vodka martini with a broader, brusquer accent than heard in many years. Read more…

HAPPY FEET – John Powell

November 17, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

Australian film maker George Miller has never failed to impress me. His films are somewhat few and far between, but they’re all so brilliant. The “Mad Max” trilogy set the standard for post-apocalyptic thrillers. The “Babe” films are the best family movies of the past decade. “The Witches of Eastwick” is a wickedly funny comedy, “Lorenzo’s Oil” is a tremendously moving medical drama. His segment of the “Twilight Zone” movie blew away those made by Joe Dante, Steven Spielberg, and John Landis. He’s found amazing success in every genre he’s touched, so I was greatly anticipating “Happy Feet”, his first attempt at making an animated film. It is a success, but perhaps not quite the masterpiece I expected. Read more…

HARSH TIMES – Graeme Revell

November 10, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

At one point in “Harsh Times”, one character tells another, “You look like a turd dressed up in a fancy suit”. If you can accept the metaphor of a performance by Christian Bale being the equivalent of a fancy suit, then the same statement can be applied to this movie. It’s second-rate, warmed-over, run-of-the-mill material. It sure is galvanizing, though.

Bale plays Jim Davis, a troubled ex-Army Ranger looking to settle down. He’s applied for a job with the LAPD, has a lover in Mexico waiting to be taken across the border, and despite a taste for the wild side of life, he’s genuinely interested in making a decent life for himself. So is his best friend Mike (Freddie Rodriguez), who has been mooching off his wife’s (Eva Longoria) money for years. So, they go off job-hunting together, but things don’t work out so well for Jim. He’s rejected for psychological reasons, which simply sends him into an even deeper mental meltdown. Read more…

A GOOD YEAR – Marc Streitenfeld

November 10, 2006 Leave a comment

Original Review by Clark Douglas

If a lead character in a mainstream movie declares “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing!” at the beginning (and his name isn’t Vince Lombardi), is there any doubt that he will change his mind by the film’s end? No, and I don’t suppose that’s a huge problem. “A Good Year” is a predictable message film, and in this case, I’m okay with that. However, I’m not okay with the fact that the film doesn’t even buy into it’s own message.

The theoretical character from the beginning of my review is indeed the leading character of the film. His name is Max (Russell Crowe), and he is a stock market go-getter with a large staff and a mean streak. He is a perfect “in need of redemption” candidate for the film’s purposes… greedy, selfish, uncaring, with a surprisingly gentle piece of his past buried away under piles of money. When Max learns of the death of the man who raised him, his Uncle Henry (played by Albert Finney in flashbacks), his reaction is basically a shrug. Well, until he learns that he’s inherited Henry’s estate (which includes a wine vineyard), which could bring in a pretty penny. Read more…