Entries tagged with “Catherine Zeta-Jones”.


Sometimes telling the idea or describing the synopsis of the film is much clearer than the feeling that we had while viewing it. This is exactly my feeling about Broken City, a political thriller taking place in the days between the New York City mayoral elections (with a prologue and some flashbacks added). The story (a corruption case at the level of the candidates involved in the campaign including the incumbent mayor) and the cast should have provided the premises of a – at least – a good thriller. And yet, the outcome, in my opinion, disappoints.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1235522/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1235522/

 

The name of the lead hero in the film is Billy Taggart (). He is an ex-cop and the film starts with the episode which cut short his career in the police, a moment when apparently he was easy on the trigger on what seems to be a vigilante killing of a guy everybody hated. Turned into a private investigator he is involved in working for the New York mayor () in the final days of the election campaign. He seems to be a honest type, but involvment with politics is not made for honest people, especially as they have a dept to pay to the politician who supported him in his dark hours. All the story however becomes more complicated as the film develops, and the details (mostly related to real estate fraud) are never clear enough or interesting enough.  The final is also far from convincing, with a final twist that was hard to believe, belonging to the psychology of self sacrifice.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

There are certainly reasons to watch this film I admired the quality of the actors - , , . I wrote actors and not acting, because I do not believe that their roles here are any peak of their acting careers. The principal problem of this film is the story telling, too many threads, none of them too clear, some interrupted suddenly as the relation between the hero and his girlfriend, a character that simply disappears from the story with no much explanation. Broken City ends by being much less that it could have been.

 

I must confess that one of my guilty pleasures is watching from time to time a movie like RED 2. I mean a movie that is made just for the purpose of entertaining, mixes action and comedy, brings to screen funny characters played by great actors, and is not shy about what it is meant to be. A movie that when watched feels like the actors and the team had themselves fun making it.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1821694/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1821694/

 

Such a film is RED 2, the second in a series which if you ask me can go on and on. Yeah, there is a story here which does not really follow the path of the logic as we may know it. The cold war may be over, but our retired (or pretending to be retired) hero-spies continue to fight it, and its aftermath, among other a non-detectable weapon of mass destruction of yesterday which risks to fall in the hands of the bad guys of today. No fortress, spy agency HQ, prison or government palace remains un-penetrable for more then 100 screen seconds. In any city they travel to they leave a pile of corpses and a trail of destruction that would have granted them centuries of punishments under any jurisdiction – no charges are ever pressed, of course, because this is the world of the action comedy which has its rules or lack of rules of its own.

 

(video source MOVIECLIPS Trailers)

 

I do not feel at all bad for this guilty pleasure of mine. Without any over-analysis I believe that I like these movies because they are sincere in their explicit intentions of entertaining – no more, no less – but actually this is very much. Then when well written and acted as it is the case here such films have a logic of their own. We actually do understand these retired spies and their run for thrill. The dialogs are well-written and funny in many moments, the situations follow well one after the other, and director Dean Parisot’s succeeds to make a film that does not look at all as the work of a prime timer.  All the big stars gathered on the same list of credits – Bruce Willis, Helen Mirren, John Malkovich, Anthony Hopkins Catherine Zeta-Jones, Marie-Louise Parker – seem to enjoy themselves and this fact crosses the screen. If I am to recommend a fun and non-pretentious entertainment at the movies this would be one of them.

 

For us, folks living out of the United States there seem to be two institutions that govern strongly the lives of our American friends: the courts of law and the shrinks. While tribunals are institutions that for most people out of the US seem to be equal to being in trouble and lawyers a category of people to avoid, a little more acceptable than the gravediggers, the American way takes easily its conflicts into courts, and lawyers seem to be on the top of the social and wealth scales. Same for psychoanalysts, with the process of going to one being considered to be a social and personal necessity even for the not so rich in America, and the sign of some malady or deep trouble elsewhere. Actually in ‘Side Effects’ Jude Law does not hide at all his native British accent as he plays shrink from the UK who comes to Manhattan in order to be able to exercise his profession as a honorable one. He works hard, he seems to succeed and then he meets trouble.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2053463/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt2053463/

 

Trouble comes under the shape of a young and troubled woman (Rooney Mara) whom he meets in hospital after she tried to commit suicide. She has a history of such troubles and even more reasons now, as her husband (a white collar offender) got out of jail and was trying to find his way back to the world of investment. Like everybody around doctors, patients and everybody else knows about psychotic drugs, the shrink tries some, they do not work, try another experimental one, it seems to work … and then she kills.

It’s just the start of a film that changes a few times tone and direction approaching successively a few themes – the obsession of the American society with shrinks and related medication, the ethics of using experimental drugs, the relation between shrink and patient, and a crime story which also changes angles and develops towards an unexpected but also an incredible outcome.

It is not really clear what kind of movie Steven Soderbergh wanted to do. He observes well the medium and cinematography is very good in emphasizing the atmosphere and the stress the characters go through. The crime story he relies on is however too complicated and not only the ending is hard to accept, but also some of the key details on the road. Are we supposed to believe that a doctor who was involved in the medical past of the patient, and who may be suspected of malpractice because of allegedly using an experimental drug with unexpected side effects will not only be accepted as an expert witness in court, but also continue to be trusted as the personal psychoanalyst and supervisor of the accused after she is condemned to be interned into a mental institution?

 

(video source Movie Trailers)

 

IMO, acting is not stellar either. Rooney Mara conveys at the beginning the fragility of a troubled mind to the point that I found hard to believe the final twists. Jude Law with his face stoned in one expression only for the whole film (with just his beard growing, cheap way of showing men in trouble in movies) is ‘only good’, which is relatively bad for this splendid actor. Catherine Zeta-Jones is the worse – a miscast which cannot be believed neither as shrink nor as lover.

It is said that director Steven Soderbergh declared this will be his final film. I really hope this is not true, this would be for me a poor ending to a career that has seen much better achievements.

Romantic comedies are not really my cup of tea, neither are the Manhattan Jewish types and stereotypes to which the masculine heroes of the two movies I have seen during the last weekend belong. Yet I found myself watching the films I am writing beyond  with mixed and different results. Oh, there is one more common plot trait to the two films besides their heroes vaguely belonging to the Woody Allen brand. They both talk about romantic relations between a 40 years old and a 25 years old. Here I must decline competence. When I was 25 no female looking like Catherine Zeta-Jones hired me as baby-sitter, and when I was 40 I was already happily married for more than a decade. So all the comments below are made from the chair of the objective viewer :-)

source www.imdb.com

‘The Rebound’ can be found some place between the TV sitcom and the big screen romantic comedy. It is longer and somehow more developed than a sitcom, it is not enough developed and does not bring enough novelty for a feature film. Not for a good one in any case.

(video source czjmda3)

She is 40, looks 30 and dresses sometimes like a 22, and is as beautiful as Catherine Zeta-Jones. Her husband cheated on her, and she moves to Manhattan where – forget bad economic times – finds immediately a job as TV researcher with obvious chances to become sooner or later (but not later than the film duration) an anchor. Of course , professional life dictates her to hire a baby-sitter for her two cued kids, and the hire cannot be other than the 25 looking thirtish and Mel Gibsonish Aram Finklestein (Justin Bartha), who is some kind of sociology genius but loves kids (and their mother) and does not care about working as a baby-sitter refusing corporate jobs – forget bad economic times, did I say? From now on everything goes as expected, and any of the spectators in the cinema can write the script. All is predictable, and the very few sparks like casting 60s pop music idol Art Garfunkel in a supporting role of a Jewish father cannot save a vary routine almost-a-movie, which would not have worked at all without the charisma of the principal actors.

source www.imdb.com

Saying that ‘Greenberg’ is a romantic comedy as it is marketed is mislabeling and misleading. The movie offers to Ben Stiller the opportunity of playing the best role in his career, a redemption in my eyes to all the silly or boring roles I have seen him in previously. His Greenberg is a 40 years walking failure, half-Jewish not caring about his half-Jewishness but behaving like an institutionalized Woody Allen, whose every Californian dream of the young time went wrong. He is out of a psychiatric institution and gets back to the city of his young age, where all the friends in his generation seem to be similary failed dreams-wise, but in at least settled and deprived of Manhattan neurotics. He is meeting Florence (acted by the wonderful Greta Gewig), the 25 years old family assistant (is this another word for a better paid baby sitter?) of his brother, who is supposed to be the down-to-earth counterpart, but eventually proves to be or in danger to be as disoriented as him. The two meet, quarrel, have sex, do not resonate, as they belong to different generations, but they do share is the uneasiness with the world around them. Will the two find support in each other? It’s a question that stays open to the end, and the two experiment with each other and a surrounding world that does not accommodate them and they do not feel comfortable in. The film avoids the beaten path and the easy solutions, sometimes annoys, but, hey, the Greenberg character IS supposed to be annoying, and the principal thing is that we end by caring deeply of these two estranged strangers. No little thing in a genre of movies I am supposed to hate.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WSY4P1tdgf0

(video source WickedMovieTrailers)

Of the two movies ‘Greenberg’ succeeded much better in my eyes, because it did not rely on the external charisma and physical chemistry of the characters, but rather built a credible pair of characters whose relationship is interesting despite a certain lack of intrigue and repetition. As in real life, what is really important is people you care, even if some of them are not perfect. Beautiful people filmed on spectacular backgrounds are nice to see once or a few times, for the rest of the days real people are preferable.