Friday, December 4, 2009

Brothers review

"Brothers" is a remake of a 2004 Danish film of the same name. All I have to go on is the US version but since the Producer said "Really the only difference is Natalie Portman's character has a larger part in this film." then that's what I'm going to believe until I view the original.

The film started out a bit simple for me. Yes we need character development but I did feel like the first 5 minutes of the film lacked a bit of an impact for me. Especially with Toby Maguire playing a father. That was a bit fake to me. But what I think happens through out the rest of the film more then makes up for his lack of fatherly strength at the beginning.

Maguire finally pulls off a dramatic role and I enjoyed him in this part. I see how he has grown as an actor and definitely how this role changed him for the better. For the last 20 minutes of the film, I found myself waiting for him to explode at any moment. It was quite intense and he deserves all the praise he is receiving.

Natalie Portman shines in this role. She does play a young mother and is quite convincing at it. I never once thought "this doesn't work". She is an actress that I'm happy to share a generation with and who has not let me down in any role she's had since "The Professional". I believe she is being overlooked because of Maguire's challenging role but I saw the subtlety in many of her actions which is just as hard as what Maguire had to do for his role.

Jake Gyllenhaal has a descent role playing against Maguire's 'perfect' image. Gyllenhaal is for once not cast as a pretty boy saving the world or a down and out twentysomething, trying to find his way. He emerges as a great opposite for Maguire and shows his strength in transitioning from 'bad apple' to strong supporting family member.

Though the Producer made it a point to say to the audience "This film isn't about war, it's about love." I do not agree with that sentence entirely. The only reason this film works is because of Maguire's storyline. If he wasn't in the military then his actions toward the end of the film would be pointless.

I must say there is one moment that Maguire is yelling at Portman saying "Do you know what I had to do for you? Do you know?" Now this is a pivotal point in the film, but his character never says anything indicating the actions he takes in Afghanistan are all done for his wife. I'm assuming it was supposed to be implied but I felt that his actions where more about his survival, then his need to get home to his wife. So, in that moment, I feel like the script, or story could have used a more complete showing of his feelings for his wife and kids.

But it's a simple thing that can be overlooked if you are an average movie watcher who finds yourself wrapped in the story and not looking for things to pull it apart.

I believe the film is solid. I'm sure that any fans of these actors will enjoy it. Any one in the military or families of military will enjoy the film. It my drag out horrible memories or even make you think, what if, but over all the film is good.

opens December 4th (wide release)

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Crazy Heart review

"Crazy Heart" based on the novel by Thomas Cobb, is a simple story of a musician who's run his life into the ground and just wants to have his moment to shine again. When he meets a woman who makes him feel young & like life is worth living again, his self destructive ways get the best of him & the relationship.

First time Director/Writer Scott Cooper does an extraordinary job of telling this story. There are no pyrotechnics, there is no flashy style to this film, there is nothing but characters that you turn yourself over to which I find to be an amazing accomplishment.

Film making now has turned into one giant commercial. Most of the time the editors have to chop a film to shit just to get a performance out of some people on screen. We as a society continue to settle for shitty films and I for one am elated that Fox Searchlight picked this film up and wants to put it out to the masses.

Maggie Gyllenhaal is a beacon on the screen. She truly is an actor with immense understanding of character. She glows in scenes with Jeff Bridges and together they take you on a journey of love, compromise and knowing when to let go.

Jeff Bridges has never been more likable in a film for me. He plays Bad Blake, a simple country singer with a fancy for the bottle and the ladies on the road. He's lived a long life of a country star and at the point we meet him, his life is spent playing small dives across the heartland just to get by. Bridges does an amazing job with bring Blake to life. His singing & guitar playing are spot on and I actually wouldn't mind owning the soundtrack.

The cast rounds out with Robert Duvall, as Bad Blake's close friend, Colin Farrell as a popular country singer that got his start with Blake, and a great cameo by the amazing Beth Grant.

The film keeps terrific pace and you truly feel like you're a part of the story and the amazing New Mexico and Texas landscapes. I am sure that Bridges will garner some nominations this Awards season. I just hope the academy does not over look Cooper's writing & Gyllenhaal's performance.

"Crazy Heart" opens December 16th (limited)