March 19, 2009

Movie Reviews: Playing Catch Up

As I mentioned, I've been a mega-slacker when it comes to movie reviews of late. Let's catch up:

American Gangster

Denzel Washington is my perennial Man of the Month. Since I was 13, I’ve loved this guy. And as much as I love Denzel Washington, that's how much I dislike Russell Crowe. The only film with Russell Crowe that I've ever enjoyed was ‘LA Confidential’. I think he takes himself way too seriously and I hate his hair. With that in mind, I think of 'American Gangster' – where Denzel’s gangster and Crowe’s cop battle it out for the streets of New York – as symbolic of the 2 men battling for my heart. I won’t say ‘American Gangster’ resolved my longstanding Russell Crowe issues – I will probably never see ‘Body of Lies’ (look over your glasses at me one more time, buddy) – but it was one hell of a ride. Both men embodied pretty unlikable characters, but made them real and well-rounded. It was quiet in all the right parts, so the in-your-face mobster parts could really be impactful. Good-borderline-great, recommended for all, even Russell Crowe haters (Or Denzel ones? Those don’t exist, right?). 7.75 Twix bars!

In Bruges

I always assumed I didn’t like Colin Farrel. Mostly because of Britney Spears, and the disappointment that was ‘Phone Booth.’ Also, I really hated the movie version of ‘A Home at the End of the World’, but I don’t think I blamed him for that. Anyway. He’s fully redeemed in my mind for his completely likable role – and subsequent Golden Globe speech – in this little film. Brendan Gleeson is also incredibly likable in this one, and not just because of my warm fuzzy feelings associated with him and ‘Harry Potter.’ How strange that the weakest link in the acting credits would be Ralph Fiennes. It wasn’t particularly his fault – the character just didn’t really go anywhere. The movie was a little uneven (I felt like the director couldn’t decide how violent, and then how surreal, he wanted to make it), and frustratingly abstract towards the end, but overall very enjoyable. Be warned: Despite what the marketers behind it wanted you to think, this isn’t a comedy. 7 Twix bars!


We moved this to the top of the queue when it seemed all but guaranteed that Mickey Rourke would leave the Academy Awards with a gold statue (Though, if you’ll remember, I posited that Sean Penn might deservedly take it home). I was dying to know what he really used to look and sound like, to warrant all the hullabaloo around his comeback. Well, let’s get one thing straight. The hullabaloo is well warranted, because I honestly never would have recognized him. Let’s just review again:

I understand that 25 years passed between 'Diner' and 'The Wrestler,' but for comparison's sake, let's just consider Dustin Hoffman, who made 'Tootsie' the same year that Mickey did 'Diner':

Okay, moving onto the movie. ‘Diner’ was Barry Levinson’s first film (He’s gone on to bring us ‘Rain Man,’ ‘Good Morning Vietnam,’ 'Sleepers’ and – this one’s for Megan – the underrated ‘Liberty Heights’). To oversimplify it, it's the 60s-set story of a group of hometown buddies in their mid-20s, trying to figure their s**t out. It’s all about the script, and actors who have long-since become has-beens just like Rourke – including Tim Daly, Steve Guttenberg and Daniel Stern – prove they deserved the fame they once had. ‘Diner’ so clearly influenced all the John Hughes movies that followed it, I feel a little bad I saw those ones first. 7 Twix bars!


readerbean said...

I too am not a big Russell Crowe fan but I have to say my fave movie of his is Gladiator (side bar: Joaquin Phoenix was so creepily good in that movie!)

Thanks for the movie reviews - I had never heard of Diner but I too am curious of the Mickey Rourke of yore and In Bruges is one I've been on the fence about, I'll check it out!

Anonymous said...

About Crowe: if you'd bothered to watch him on Leno you'd know he's actually very laid back,funny and not at all full of himself. His latest director said yesterday ""I think he is the only A-list movie star who has no vanity."