03 August 2009

In the Valley of Elah

Acclaimed writer Paul Haggis shows an even hand for two hours as he painstakingly shows the turmoil of Tommy Lee Jones (Hank Deerfield) pushing his way through the mire of military and civil bureaucracy in an attempt to discover the fate of his son.

So good, I don't really know what stopped it from being perfect. Or what made me wait so long to see it.

Look at this cast:
Tommy Lee Jones — tortured and depressed father
Charlize Theron — stoic and under-appreciated cop
Jason Patric — nearly emotionless military investigator
Susan Sarandon — haggard mother (who spends most of her time acting into a phone)
James Franco
Josh Brolin
Frances Fisher
Jonathan Tucker
I would pay good money to see any of these people in a film. Altogether in one movie is just gravy.

Tommy Lee Jones drives the film, taking up 85% of the real estate. Theron and Patric do get a few moments on screen, proving why they are in this movie, but in the end, Tommy's Oscar-nod is well-earned.

Lock, Stock, and Two Smoking Barrels

Because of the very thick accents, I never really got past the first 15 minutes of this film, years ago when it came out. However, now that I have a massive TV and DVD has subtitles and I'm finally getting around to watching stuff I missed, I finished this on Sunday.

And you can really see Guy Ritchie finding his stride as a director in this film. Really smart. Clumsy at times and no-where near as good as Snatch (the six endings in this are a bit much). But I think this is a funny, clever film.

And Guy's ensemble casts really give room to showing a wide tapestry. No one person stands out as the lead in the movie.

I can't say much more than that. Layer Cake, Snatch, and Rock n' Rolla have much better villains than this had, but you can see Ritchie laying the foundation for really smart capper films.

Zack and Miri Make a Porno

I find it almost impossible to believe this was directed by Kevin Smith. Seriously... it's not like any of his other work. Technically precise, multi-angled, fascinating... really good stuff.

I also can't believe half the Apatow crew made a movie with half the View Askew crowd. I still hate Seth Rogan, but he brings along some other talent that I enjoy watching. Elizabeth Banks and Craig Robinson to name two... oh and thank god Jonah Hill isn't in this... man what a retard he is... like Seth Rogan Jr. only more annoying.

Anything. That's hardly a way to review this film, so let me start again.

Seth Rogan and Elizabeth Banks play the title characters (Zack and Miri) with money problems. Taking a little too long to get to the plot, the characters eventually realize they can make some money by making a porno. Tracey Lords makes an appearance as one of the actress in the porno, set in the coffee shop where they work. Hijinx and poop jokes ensue, with "Randall" from Clerks making an appearance in a much toned-down role from his previous outtings. And, of course, Jason Mewes is in the movie as the lead male in the porno who can get it up anytime he wants.

In the end, the Kevin Smith shows that he's not as relevant as he used to be. Five years between projects is not a good pace for a director/writer. Especially when he's not Stanley Kubrick. I counted five laugh-out-loud moments and the rest was just screen time, passing to fill the story.... which has some great dialog until the final 15 minutes.

B–

CAMEOS: Justin Long plays Brandon St. Randy — a gay adult film star who gives them the idea to make a porno — and Brandon Routh (from Superman Returns) plays Bobby Long in some elaborate in-joke about how the latest Superman movie is gay. Really funny, actually.