Entries tagged with “Bradley Cooper”.


Where does director  Derek Cianfrance hide? It may be my fault for not remembering having seen any his movies before or even knowing his name. It is certainly the fault of the distributors of ‘The Place Beyond the Pines‘ which was made in 2013 for not making out of this film a blockbuster or at least a festivals circuit success. Produced in 2012 it has Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper, and Eva Mendes in the cast, all of them acting superbly, it’s a beautifully written story about crime and corruption, guilt and fatherhood,  which is at the same time human and universal as well as rooted to the detail in the realities of a small town in the state of New York where much of the filming was done on location. So did this film only enjoy a limited launching, and why did he make only a small profit over the rather modest sum of money it cost? These questions may be asked in an investigation of the mysteries of the American movies distribution system.

 

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1817273/

source https://www.imdb.com/title/tt1817273/

 

It is not easy to tell what this film is about without committing the ‘spoiler sin’, but I will try to avoid the trap. It starts as the story of a life and of a love lost in mistakes, with little chances to end well. It continues as the story of a cop trying to do the right things and fighting the corrupt system he works in. It ends as a story of paternal responsibility and how the next generation is due to follow the steps of fathers and whether breaking the circle of fate and social conditioning is possible. So there are three stories here, three stories with different focus and pace, partly sharing the same characters and with a continuity determined by the leading ideas. As I try to tell all these, I realize how many important details remain out, how well they are interleaved and what value they add, how well the whole narrative structure stands. It’s a strong and moving story (or better said collection of stories) told in an original manner.

 

(video source StudiocanalUK)

 

I need to add a few special mentions about acting. For Ryan Gosling this may be the first big ‘bad guy’ role of his career but he cannot really be a ‘bad guy’ to the end, as he adds complexity and deepness to his character. Same can be said about the character  played by Bradley Cooper but working on the opposite direction, as we see the hero cop never at peace with the decisions he needs to take even when it seems to be ‘the right thing’ (fighting crime and police corruption). Eva Mendes and Ray Liotta provide more substance to their supporting roles which could have easily fallen in standard melodrama. We come to know the place where the action happens and the way it changes in time, and in part of the secret ’The Place Beyond the Pines‘ looks to good and authentic is the careful description and familiarity of the authors for the details.

How can this wonderful film be taken out of the shade of forget it undeservedly lies? The best would be if the very talented film director who is Derek Cianfrance will make some more successful movies. I hope that this will happen, and then ‘The Place Beyond the Pines‘ will have its second chance.

 

 

 

War Dogs‘ is the second movie ‘inspired by a true story’ that I have seen in the last 24 hours, and is actually the one that I liked better (the other one being ‘The Infiltrator’). Its film-making style (director ) and its comic thriller approach fit well the month of August. If I am to chose one easier entertainment with no super-heroes or space-ships, and yet a film that raises serious issues this summer, I will recommend it (but of course, I did not see them all).

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2005151/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2005151/

 

I am not sure if ‘War Dogs’ will make it to too many Jewish film festivals, but the two lead characters are Jewish or better say one nice Jewish kid (acted by ) and a one Jewish trouble-maker kid (acted by ) who meet about one year after high-school. The bad guy is already in weapons trade and he easily convinces the good guy to become an associate. It’s the Bush-Cheney period, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan need arms, and the government seems to have privatized at least part of the guns and ammo supply chain and opened it to free competition. A golden business opportunity for many, including the couple of young entrepreneurs who start small, win bigger and bigger contracts, break more and more moral rules, laws and trade restrictions, move into bigger offices and houses, and ask themselves less and less questions about what is right and what is wrong to do in such business.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The film is fun to watch. There is no great characters development, the characters are from the start to the end what they seem to be when they show up for the first time, but they are enjoyable, and at least does here his best role on screen to date. also shows up in a small but key supporting role. Story telling has pace and humor, although I could have given up the off-screen story telling which tries to provide the personal and somehow moralizing perspective of the good guy. It seems to be a returning fashion in the American cinema which I frankly dislike. It usually hides lack of skills in setting the contest and telling the story, but it was not the case here.

It’s the final titles before the credits, the one that usually relate the characters on screen with the reality of the ‘true story’ and show the real faces of the ‘heroes’ that we have seen acted on screen, that made me click. So these guys, who sold lethal weapons that caused death in the battlefields of Iraq or Afghanistan, who tricked the government and the individuals fighting for what they believe is a just cause got a few years in jail (one of them) and a suspended sentence (the other one) and they are now selling their story in books and movies? Something is broken in our justice systems if the ‘war dogs’ selling illegal weapons to the conflict areas are not punished. This film is not a masterpiece, but at least it causes to some of us to ask the right questions.

It is very difficult to judge this film without referring to politics. One can just read the viewers opinions in IMDB.

One of the first scenes in ‘American Sniper’ defines the world of the hero. It’s a childhood scene. The hero as a kid sits at the family table with his father, mother, brother. The father tells his view of the world. It is divided in sheep, heard-keepers and predators. Predators try to kill, sheep risk to be slaughtered. Nobody in this family will be a sheep. The ‘yes, Sir’ typical to the traditional American way of kids addressing fathers follows. This is the same ‘yes, Sir’ used in the Army.

Clint Eastwood makes films with a talent that is in competition only with his skills as an actor. My problem with many of his films is that his heroes are so far of my world that I cannot avoid detesting them, as much as I admire Clint’s artistic skills. True again for this film about the most decorated sniper in the history of the US Army.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2179136/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2179136/

 

Now, the issue is that the hero described in Clint Eastwood’s most recent film is a real character. The authors of the script did not even change his name (it’s Chris Kyle) and many of the facts and situations described are taken from a book inspired by reality. We are shown a young man who decides to switch from rodeos to becoming a soldier after seeing the news on TV about the American embassies being blown up at the end of the 90s. 9/11 follows (again as a piece of TV news) and this is enough to convince him that his tours of duty in Iraq serve the noblest possible cause. If he ever asks questions about the policies of his government, if he ever has any doubts about his life being torn to shreds by the conflict between his duties as a soldier and the duties to his family – these are never shown on screen.

There are two other memorable scenes I took from the film. In one of them an Arab kid takes a rocket launcher and almost fires it. The hero prays that the kid drops the weapon so that he would not be obliged to kill him. His prayers are heard. Later in the film an Army shrink asks him whether he has any regrets about what he did during his service (he is credited with 160 enemies killed in action as a sniper). ‘No, Sir’ he answers, the day he will face the Creator he will have clean conscience about each of them. I could not avoid asking myself the question – what if that kid would not have thrown the weapon and would have been the 161st?

 

(video source Warner Bros, Pictures)

 

Can soldiers involved in the bloodiest of the wars ever come home?  Mentally, with their souls intact? Such questions are asked by many films and are asked implicitly by ‘American Sniper’ as well. Apparently the film takes no position while it describes a real life character who can be read both as a hero and as a casualty of war. I can but admire the splendid acting of Bradley Cooper who simply brought back Chris Kyle to life of screen. Eastwood’s story telling skills are exquisite, and while I am no big fan of war scenes I liked the way he staged these. I liked less the one-sided view of the conflict and the situations in Iraq, but let us recognize that this is a film about an American soldier and his perspective of the war. The fact that this is the kind of hero glorified by the society tells more than anything about the world we live in.

 

I really needed this film two days after watching and being so disappointed with Gravity. I am pretty sure that American Hustle will make ways less money than ‘Gravity’ and will get less Academy Awards if any. It is however a much better film in my opinion, smart and sensitive, funny and entertaining, and in its way represents much better today’s (or yesterday’s) America.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1800241/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1800241/

 

The story happens in the late 70s – early 80s in Manhattan and part in New Jersey, these two settings which may provide the background for more than half of the movies about America today, and is based in part on the real story of an FBI investigation that discovered wide-spread corruption in the local and national politics. In order to infiltrate in the local environment the Bureau investigator (Bradely Cooper) devices a scheme in which he blackmails a couple composed of a con man (Christian Bale) and his partner and lover (Amy Adams) are sent to lure a local politician and then other by offering them bribes. Same as in director David O. Russell previous film Silver Linings Playbook, (also set between NJ and NYC) none of the characters is really normal, they all have their non-negligible dose foolishness, malice and stupidity.

 

(video source MOVIES Coming Soon)

 

There are two reasons for which American Hustle works well. The first is that the structure of the script is well designed, and the characters are very credible with all their goods and flaws. The second is that Russell’s style of directing his actors enhanced the feeling of authenticity. Russell picked a team of very talented actors whom he knew well from previous films and let them create and improvise each their own roles. The result is bright. Christian Bale is hard to recognize physically, he is a smart and pathetic, loving and cynical con man. The actor of so many feel-good movies Bradley Cooper is mean and dark. For the first time I have seen here Jennifer Lawrence in a role (Bale’s wife) that justifies the praises he received from many critics. Last and best – Amy Adams is unbelievably beautiful and vulnerable – she looks like a 2013 version of the best of what Jane Fonda could be. The cake has a glazing, and it’s called Robert De Niro (uncredited for some reasons) – he does the older and tired version of the role he played so many times, and I hope that his devastated looks were just make-up.

Smartest, maybe best American film that I have seen in a while.

 

I am trying to remember at least one character in Silver Linings Playbook who is not crazy in some way. You know, what we call a normal person, who is not or was not a patient in a mental institution, is not on psychotic medication, is not going to shrinks or a shrink himself, has no mania or obsession, does not live his or her life according to canned solutions prescribed by psychiatrists. Actually there may be one – Dolores, the mother of the deranged home where much of the action happens,  splendidly acted by Jacki Weaver who also is hinted to be the deus-ex-machina of the sophisticated intrigue of rehabilitation of her son Pat (Bradley Cooper, much better than in any other film I saw him before) out of the mental institution where his stay seems to have been caused more by legal reasons than by health troubles. In the process of getting back his life, which includes for some reasons (never explained) getting back his cheating wife who was at the origin of all his troubles he will meet a new love (Jennifer Lawrence – great looks, average acting, but then she is really only 22).  It’s just that the Pat’s system of reference (as the one of other characters in the film) is so much deformed by the stereotypes of therapy and legalism that seem to rule over the life of the heroes that only the rules of Hollywood good-feeling scripts succeed in bringing together the intrigue towards the end.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1045658/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1045658/

 

It is certainly my problem that I am not a big fan of suburbs drama or of romantic comedies. It is the problem of the film that it cannot offer credible solutions to the problems of the characters. If this was real life there would be no happy character in this film. They live in times of economic uncertainty, lose jobs or run in-secure businesses.  Family lives are buried in boredom and mediocrity. They are stuck in unhappy marriages. They are on medication. Even their American football teams do not do too well, and sport events turn into violent incidents with ugly racist facets. The aspiration to a positive attitude seems to be imposed and artificial. It’s mean drama packed in the artificial wrapping of therapy and optimism, but the source of optimism is not clear. It sounds and looks superficial and artificial.

 

(video source The JoBlo Movie Network)

 

There are many details to like in Silver Linings Playbook. Dialogs are extremely well written and acting is so natural that you feel that you are present in the suburb home, and that the characters are folks like the ones you met yesterday. You even forget that Robert De Niro is the actor who played uncounted number of gangsters, his maniac focus is so well targeted here to the obsessions for football and betting. Director David O. Russell makes the best of the neurotic ambiance and temperament of his characters and eventually drives the viewers in caring about them. It was not a bad film, despite the amount of clichees that outnumber the moments of real emotion, but I left the screening with a feeling of dis-orientation – serious problems are dealt with the wrong approach. A little bit like the issues the characters in the film have to face and the way they try to solve them. 

 

 

 

One of the latest films I saw before ‘Limitless’ was ‘The Sorcerer’s Apprentice’. The two share at least one line in which the supernatural capabilities of the hero are explained by his making used of 100% of his brain capabilities, while us, the rest of the mortals scarcely use 10% or 20%. In this movie the explanation is a memory enhancement drug, in the other one magic but is there a difference? Let us not forget that the best film director Neil Burger has on record (better than this one) was ‘The Illusionist’. This director probably does believe in magic.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1219289/

 

What are the effects of the drug on our hero which seems to be doomed to be an eternal loser? They turn him into a super-smart analyzer and winner into the stock market, a heart-breaker speaking all languages immigrant waiters speak, but they also put him in trouble with the Mafia and maybe – we just never know – turn him into a murderer. Bradley Cooper with the help of some special effects that make his eyes more blue than deep sea when under influence does a fairly good job which is not pushed into the corner even by Robert De Niro in another of these roles that do not do too much good to his filmography but may round corners to his bank account.

 

(video source Newfromhollywood)

 

The film does work eventually especially if concerns about morality and credibility are pushed aside. If at some point in time one may suspect that the story will make the case about drugs not really improving life or eventually asking the payback for their effect some disappointment may be in the waiting. Limitless is fair entertainment based on an interesting premises, the kind of movies we remember the idea but not the details soon after we finished the viewing.