Thursday, February 22, 2007
The Departed - DVD
Between viewing this film and writing this review, "The Departed" has gone on to win the Oscar for Best Film. It's nice to see Martin Scorcese finally get some recognition, although I liked "The Aviator" better. Anyway, here's my review:
I can't stop thinking about Jack Nicholson in this movie as Frank Costello, an Irish mob boss. It's rare for an actor to get under your skin, and Nicholson's done this throughout his career. Now that I think about it, I can remember many movies where Nicholson has cast his spell on me and the audience (see the end of this review for a list). Most actors would be lucky to have just one movie where they connect with a character and the audience.
The great thing about "The Departed," is Nicholson is playing against a group of very talented actors -- many of whom have never worked together: Matt Damon, Mark Wahlberg (nominated for an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor), Leonardo DiCaprio, and Martin Sheen. "The Departed" is definitely the story DiCaprio's character, but it's Nicholson who is at the center of it all -- the engine that makes the plot run.
In "The Departed," DiCaprio is Billy Costigan, a cop who goes undercover in Costello's crime organization. But what Costigan and the cops don't know is that Costello has a mole with the police: Damon's character Collin Sullivan. And it's with this setup that the dance between the police and Sullivan begins.
"The Departed" allows Scorcese a chance to explore the theme of duality in a different way. Is Billy Costigan a cop or a bad guy? Is Collin Sullivan a bad guy or a cop? Is Dignam (Wahlberg) a cop or a murderer?
I thought of a few other examples of Scorcese exploring duality in his other movies.
- In "The Aviator," is Howard Hughes (Leonardo DiCaprio) a genius or a madman?
- In "Goodfellas," is Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) a Mafioso or an informant?
- In "The Last Temptation of Christ," is Christ (Willem Defoe) the Son of God or a man who has the same temptations as all of us?
- In "Taxi Driver," is Travis Bickle (Robert De Niro) a hero or a murderer?
The answer is for all these characters is "both." That's what makes us human. And that's what makes Scorcese's movies so interesting to watch.
A list of Jack Nicholson's films where he cast his spell on me:
Saturday, February 10, 2007
Little Miss Sunshine - DVD
AndyO Review: * * * *
Metacritic score: 80 out of 100 (Generally favorable reviews)
"Little Miss Sunshine" shows us American family dysfunction at its best. At times it reminded me of" American Beauty" although it doesn't enter the same darkness as that film. And like "American Beauty," "Sunshine" could win the Oscar for Best Movie (it's nominated for four Academy Awards).
In many ways, "Little Miss Sunshine" harkens back to 1970s filmmaking, when American Cinema was at its most adventurous.
Flyboys - DVD
AndyO review: * * *
The exciting, true story about Americans flying with the the French Lafayette Escadrille in World War I. We see what the beginning of aerial combat looked like at the beginning: heroic, bloody, and personal. The fighter pilots look into each other's eyes as they circle before a dogfight.
James Franco, the actor best known for his role in Spider-Man as Harry Osborne, gives a confident, charismatic performance as a boy becoming a man.
I predict that Franco will go on to become a major "A-List" movie start in the years to come.
The Black Hole - DVD
This is simply one of the worst big-budget Science Fiction movies ever made. I rented it to show my son, who also thought it was pretty bad. The funny thing is, I remember it being bad when I was a kid, too, even though I liked the effects.
Also, never in history has a movie been made where so many wires are visible on the actors and the robots. You think with the millions they spent on this, they would have been able to delete some of those wires. (Remember, I'm seeing this stuff on DVD on a regular TV -- I can't imagine what it would look like on the big screen. Laughable.)
"The Black Hole" shows Disney at its worst -- uninspired and completely out of touch with what makes a good story. I think someone in the story department thought the idea of "Captain Nemo in space" would be a hit after "Star Wars" came out. But what they got was a bunch of horrible acting over some gorgeous effects (Peter and Harrison Ellenshaw, famed matte painters, worked on this film).
There's no doubt that Uncle Walt is rolling rolls over in his cryogenic coffin every time some child or adult watches this.