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Michael Clayton is another in a long line of films this year that I liked but didn’t love. It’s billed as a legal/ mystery thriller but in reality it’s more of a character drama. If anything the film is too character-driven because the plot is distressingly straight forward. But as a film that depends heavily on its characters it’s getting buzz for acting nominations for Tom Wilkinson, Tilda Swinton, and George Clooney and all three would be fine choices. Read the rest of this entry »

Away From Her seemed to be the Little Critical Darling That Could from this summer. It centers around Grant (Gordon Pinsent) and Fiona (Julie Christie), a long-married couple in Canada. She is diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and they struggle with the decision to put her in a nursing home. When she does eventually enter, the home’s rules prevent Grant from visiting for the first month while Fiona settles in. When he does visit, she is distant towards and had made friends – or more? – with another resident. Even more than a film about Alzheimer’s this is a film about marriage. It’s revealed that their marriage has not always been smooth and Grant feels like he may be paying for past transgressions when Fiona slips away from him.

Away From Her is about 40% great. The first part is tremendous. Fiona has more and more episodes and Grant anguishes letting her leave to go to the home. Their love and pain is incredibly moving.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t keep it up. Read the rest of this entry »

I’m going to throw this out there to start things off: endings aren’t that big a deal to me. I see a movie’s ending as just one small part in the larger sum in weighing whether or not I liked it. I think Signs is a great movie; it’s thrilling, funny, and has shades of Hitchcock’s The Birds, which I also love. But I understand when people say the ending sucked…and while I half-heartedly agree with them, I really don’t care that much.

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Brian, I look forward to thoroughly taking apart your specious arguments and wrong impressions about this year’s Oscar contenders. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case here. I find it interesting that you reference so many movies in your post. You probably take more time discussing other movies than American Gangster. By the way, just because a movie is under two hours, that doesn’t make it “taut.” French Connection may be a classic, but that doesn’t mean it is a good movie.

To me, I think you are referencing other movies in an attempt to underscore American Gangster‘s plainness.

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From conversations with some of you, it appears we’re pretty much on the same page. I found American Gangster entertaining and well-made, but overall unsatisfying. Perhaps it was because of the businessman-like demeanor of Denzel’s Frank Lucas, or because of the lack of interaction between him and Russell Crowe’s Richie Roberts, but the film lacked the sizzle and electrifying suspense of last year’s violent gang film, The Departed.

Which isn’t to say that Gangster was looking to emulate the 2007 Best Picture winner, you can leave that to last month’s flop We Own the Night. Clearly, Ridley Scott looked to Scorcese’s earlier masterpiece Goodfellas and its own logical predecessor The Godfather for inspiration. And while the comparison is probably unfair, Gangster fails to emerge from the shadow of either of them.

(My comments will continue, after the jump. As with all posts on this blog, spoiler alerts within.)

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November 2007