Entries tagged with “Woody Harrelson”.


I have somehow missed ‘Now You See Me‘, a very entertaining movie directed by when it was released four years ago. Luckily, it’s one of those movies that do not lose their appeal that fast, and then it’s summer time, so the right time for fun and entertaining films. The only detail that seems overcome by time in this film is the usage of phones phones with geo-positioning systems.As smartphones took over the market, and applications as Google Maps became ubiquitous, the cops using keyboard based not-so-smart mobile phones seems to have happened twenty and not four years back. It’s kind of a lesson for film-makers which may find more and more difficult coping with the pace of progress of our smart gadgets. Maybe the sequel avoids this mistake.

 

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1670345

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1670345

 

Now You See Me‘ combines two genres – the big robbery and the magicians movies, with more emphasize on the later. ‘The closer you look, the less you see’ is the key saying of the film which tells the story of four magicians with different specializations brought together in a team that combines huge magician shows a la David Copperfield with bank robberies. They are supported by a finance tycoon (), followed by a former magician () whose pastime is exposing on TV the tricks and frauds of magicians, and have of course all the FBI and Interpol on their tracks. The roles of manipulators and manipulated, suspects and innocents change all the time, and as in a good magic show we are never sure what we exactly see on screen.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The story may have a few holes that cannot be filled even by magic, but the convention works well, and is well supported by the actors. Watching and is always a delight in this kind of roles that they enjoy playing in this epoch of their careers. The rest of the team does a good job as well, with special mentions for  and . ‘Now You See Me‘ is a film to enjoy, like a good show with magicians.

 

‘Planet of the Apes’ generated by now enough big screen and TV series film to be considered a genre or at least a sub-genre by itself. While the original series was playing more in the post-apocalyptic stories space with the original movie one of the strong head of series creation, the more recent remake started as a sci-fi thriller. The second and now third film in the series see the two themes converge as enough bad things happened on Planet Earth for mankind to become again endangered species. Actually both apes and humans seem to be endangered in this latest and the two species are caught in a deadly war that may prove to be fatal to both.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3450958/

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt3450958/

 

The premises of the story are similar with the majority of the other films in the series. Humans have made enough fatal mistakes and their psychological, biological, but especially character problems make of them inferior (on the moral if not also on the intelligence scales) to the apes. On the ruins of what was once our civilizations gangs of human survivors and herds of ape survivors fight for their own existence and between them. It’s not a modern war, it’s more like tribal fights.  Which is no less cruel or spectacular in cinematographic terms.

 

(video source 20th Century Fox)

 

When this new series started and I saw the first film (I think that I missed the second) I appreciated the technical performance of making of each one of the apes a character of its own using computer graphics enhancement, but the story seemed thin and conventional. This third film has the same problems, actually it got worse. Visuals are impressing but the story got not only conventional but full of cliches. It’s a deja-vu post-apocalyptic story with religious and moralistic tones, and having it spoken 80% of the time by apes does not make it smarter. Some of the choices of director also seemed to me uninspired. Some of the apes talk a sign language, other a primitive form of the language of the enemy (English, of course). Arms are an odd mix of modern weaponry, tribal bow and arrows and beginning of the 20th century guns. etc. It’s difficult to talk too much about acting, as playing the human model for the apes computer image requires special skills – I assume they are OK as the effect is fine, but it’s not a novelty any longer and the film relies too much on those. So I assume is a fine actor but I need to see more of him, while does what we expect from him in the human bad guy role.

The ending of the original Planet of the Apes was mind-blowing, one of the most memorable final scenes in the history of cinema. What we have in War for the Planet of the Apes is so far from that. The action twist and the meaningful reflection on the future of mankind that were turning the original into a great movie was replaced by a so expected and conventional image with moralistic and religious pretensions. This says almost all about the failure of this film. Faithful fans (and I am among them) will go and see this film. Many will be disappointed, as it is heavy of staff we have already seen so many times. Good cinematography and special effects are also repetitive and cannot save it. One of the characters is called Bad Ape and repeats his name many times in the movie. He may have said ‘Bad Planet’ as well.

There is a magic about the number ‘seven’ in cinema among other places. Some say it started with Snow White, other will mention Kurosawa. Fact is that many successful films used this magic and succeeded, some of them succeeded great. So when we get this number in the title, when we see on the poster a cast that would make any blockbuster in Hollywood, and when we know that the script and directing belongs to the exquisite drama writer whose appearances as a film maker are scarce but special, and whose previous film In Bruges was smart and funny, the expectations for Seven Psychopaths run high.

 

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1931533/

source www.imdb.com/title/tt1931533/

 

What we get is a ‘film in film’ formula of a special kind. A scriptwriter in Hollywood seeks inspiration for his next film in stories about psychopaths. He starts collecting them, and the stories start happening around him. His best friend is building a revenue stream from kidnapping dogs and returning them to their owners for happy dog reunion awards. Murders and horrors multiply in the script and around, and the border between real and fiction is never clear. The formula is not completely new, Hollywood loves stories about Hollywood, and screen heroes have more than once crossed the line of separation between screens and viewing halls (Woody Allen, Charlie Kaufman, etc.). The tone here is crazy, with reverence to the older and newer horror movies, but also to Tarantino.

 

(video source Movieclips Trailers)

 

The execution is less fun that it could be. is a smart script writer, but as a director he seems to be too much in love with his own script. Something is missing, maybe the cynical look or the extremes that make Tarantino’s violence on screen entertainment. Out of the good cast I especially liked the performance of , while , , and deliver as expected. Overall ‘Seven Psychopats’ makes true only part of the promises of number 7.

 

This may be the toughest non-combat task in any army – announcing families that their dearest ones, son or daughter, husband or wife fell on the line of duty in war. It needs to be done fast, as relatives should learn about the tragedy before the news show in the media, it needs to be done with dignity and sensitivity for the grief of the family, and rules, of course, rules need to be respected. However what rules are worth in such personal and painful moments? And how can the messengers, even if or especially because they are themselves people who have seen combat and faced death, their own and the one of their comrades, cope with this task? These are the key questions asked by The Messenger, a film with excellent premises which has as heroes a team of two of the uniformed soldiers the US army deploys home to pass to families the messages of death.

 

source http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0790712/

 

It’s quite interesting that this American film about the consequences of the American wars for the people who fight and for the families left home was written by an Israeli and an Italian (Alessandro Camon) and directed by the Israeli – Oren Moverman. Or maybe it is not, at least on what Moverman is concerned. This story could have happened in Israel as well, where quite a number of families have to deal with the loss of their closer family or friends in wars or terror attacks, and where Memorial Day is one very special moment, felt and lived together by the whole nation. Quite amazingly the Israeli cinema has dealt very little until now with this subject, and Moverman, who lives in the US made the film there. The result is The Messenger - a very American and a very universal film at once, one of the most interesting made until now about and against the war in Iraq.

 

(video source VISO trailers)

 

At no moment I had the feeling that this is the first long feature film directed by Moverman. As director he masters well the camera moves, alternating traditional and fluent scenes with hand-held camera giving the feeling of reality and passing to viewers the intense dramatic effects when the announcements are being made to the families. The team of actors does a fine job as well, with Ben Foster and Woody Harrelson up to the task of playing the two soldiers with their lives transformed forever by the war even if they survive it, and with Samantha Morton whose work I love every time I see her giving a strong and perfectly restrained performance as the fresh widow who tries to keep hope and make the life go on despite the terrible loss. The big problem of the film is that despite the excellent premises the story does not have enough dramatic tension, so the excellent first half creates expectations that are not well fulfilled in the second half. The story of the fight near the lake, or the incident at the wedding do not fit well and do not add too much to the evolution of the characters. Moreover, the discussions between the two members of the team become suddenly too verbose for people who up to then seemed to be much more used to action than words, and who looked like understanding situations and communicating just by gestures or expression of eyes. The feeling I was left at the end was that The Messenger has a story of big potential, but not fully realized.