Archive for September, 2008
Nights in Rodanthe
Self centered Dr. Paul Flanner (Richard Gere) is called to the small island town of Rodanthe to make one more house call before he leaves the country to become a doctor in South America. The house call however will require him to face a devastating and haunting professional mistake. In the process of wrestling with his faults Dr. Flanner meets Adrienne Willis (Diane Laine), a single mother of two, tending to an extravagant bed and breakfast inn. One thing leads to another and the stage is set for what appears to be the quintessential romance tale. Unquestionably, Gere and Laine have great chemistry together on the film; so much so that it almost makes one look right past the fact that the script is a dog. Unfortunately, even great chemistry can’t save the last 20 minutes of the film which take what could be a decent romance and make it a groaner. Perhaps a matinee if you’re suckered into a sappy date but better off as a rental. Nights in Rodanthe is rated PG-13.
The Miracle at St. Anna
Director Spike Lee continues his exploration of character dynamics in this WWII flashback of sorts. A small group of soldiers from the Buffalo company make it past enemy lines and wind up in a tiny Italian town soon to be invaded by the Germans. Tensions rise as the group begins to question their purpose and each other, all the while small “miracles” seem to be connected to a little boy saved in the line of fire, but just how far will those miracles extend? While the script seems to be a bit convoluted and even cryptic at times, and the score doesn’t lend much to the film, all of the leads shine bright in this film and shed light to what an African American soldier in 1944 might have experienced, maybe. A host of cameo appearances also help to make things interesting initially; however, clocking in at 2 hours and 40 minutes of run time this does begin to feel a bit long. Maybe a matinee. The Miracle at St. Anna is rated R.
The mundane life of Jerry Shaw (Shia LaBeouf) seems simple enough at first, until he receives a call on his cell phone with mysterious instructions to flee the FBI. Meanwhile, Rachel Holloman (Michelle Monaghan) receives a similar mysterious call with instructions to steal a car. Through an impossibly coordinated series of events Rachel and Jerry are teamed up and must race against the clock to complete various tasks of espionage and civil warfare in order to stay alive and outrun Agent Thomas Morgan (Billy Bob Thornton). But who’s calling the shots, and why? Ultimately though, does anybody care? Again, unbelievable action sequences, car chases, explosions, and the like leave little room for breathing or decent script and make for what feels like a rip off of any recent spy film. And, a feigned attempt at drawing our attention to the patriot act feels half baked. A rental in a few months seems about right for this popcorn chomping flick. Eagle Eye is rated PG-13.
A mixed race couple (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) moves into an upscale California neighborhood. All appears fine until neighbor and police officer Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) begins making life difficult for the new homeowners. Racial tensions and tempers flair as Abel increases the pressure; meanwhile, wildfires of California rage closer and closer to the neighborhood, providing a blunt metaphor to life in L.A.. Initially excellent acting and good narrative make this film interesting; unfortunately, all is lost with what feels like a cheap Hollywood ending that spoils what could have been a poignant and satirical character study with real feeling. Maybe a rental at a later date. Lakeview Terrace is rated R.
After a near death experience Dr. Bertram Pincus (Ricky Gervais), a dentist who hates people, begins to see the spirits of dead people stuck in the afterlife. When a newer spirit (Greg Kinnear) engages Pincus, the two teach each other about their own short commings in what ultimately becomes a story about love and redemption. A well written script and brilliant witty humor keeps this film entertaining and interesting. In particular Gervais’ brand of self deprecating and embarrassing comedy makes this supernatural comedy feel more real and believable. Worthy of at least a matinee or rental. Ghost Town is rated PG-13.
Burn After Reading
A recently fired CIA analyst (John Malkovich) decides to write and publish his memoirs while his wife (Tilda Swinton) plots the couples divorce and plans to run off with her lover (George Clooney). Meanwhile, the memoirs accidentally make their way into the hands of two fitness professionals (Brad Pitt and Frances McDormand) who plan to sell the information to the Russian government. Chaos ensues in a way that only the Coen brothers can create. Fantastic acting and comedic character study of strange people pushed to extremes. Not too dissimilar from Fargo but with the added bonus of espionage. Perhaps not the strength of No Country for Old Men, but still quite enjoyable. Worth seeing. Burn After Reading is rated R.
Two grizzled New York Cops (Al Pacino and Robert De Niro), partners for decades, are forced to investigate each other in this topsy turvey action thriller. On the positive side Pacino and De Niro are right in the wheel house of their acting abilities, and seeing the two on screen together is always a pleaser. Unfortunately an unimaginative script keeps this potential gem from really shining. A lack of interesting visuals also continues to make this film a bit of a chore. Maybe worthy of a rental at a later date. Righteous Kill is rated R.