Published on: October 12, 2012
A bunch of movies to recommend this week...
I loved Looper
. It is a fascinating puzzle box of a movie, about a hit man who kills people who have been sent back in time from a future 30 years hence. Joseph Gordon-Levitt plays the killer, who has to deal with a conundrum when he has to kill himself, played by an older, balder Bruce Willis. The casting conceit works, the time travel element plays well because they don't overdo the whole space-time continuum paradox stuff, and there are real philosophical underpinnings in the movie, which considers the whole notion of consequences and culpability. There are even some good business lessons in the movie ... many executives make decisions based on short-term needs, but it can be an important exercise to think about what the implications will be on a brand and an infrastructure in 10, 20, 30 years. Terrific movie, and beyond the entertainment value, it is actually about something.Taken 2
is a sequel to the surprise hit Taken
, in which Liam Neeson played a retired CIA agent who goes to Paris to rescue his teenaged daughter, who has been kidnapped by human traffickers. Perhaps a sequel was inevitable; this time, it is Neeson's character and his ex-wife who are kidnapped, and the plot has to do with the daughter helping Neeson escape and vanquish the bad guys (who are related to the many bad guys he killed in the first one). I can tell you this. Taken 2
is about 90 minutes long, and 70 minutes of it are pure carnage. It ain't much, but I had a good time.
I had mixed emotions about going to see Trouble with the Curve
. I know is is almost blasphemy to say so, but I'm not an enormous fan of Clint Eastwood as a director; I've liked movies like Unforgiven
and Million Dollar Baby
a lot, but have been less enthusiastic about movies like Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
and Gran Torino
, which I've found to be too flat and uninspired. And I even have reservations about his acting - he's good in some stuff, but especially as he's gotten older (and, admirably, willing to show the limitations and annoyances of age), his acting limits have become evident. But, if I don't always admire the work, I am enormously impressed by the work ethic - we should all be so productive and ambitious when we're in our eighties.
So I went to Trouble with the Curve
because I felt I should, not because I really wanted to. The direction was even, bordering on flat. (Robert Lorenz directed, not Eastwood, but his long apprenticeship under Eastwood is evident.) The writing is unsurprising. And yet, as the movie went along, I found myself being touched by some wonderful performances - Eastwood as Gus, an aging baseball scout who is slowly losing his sight but none of his pride, and the always fabulous Amy Adams, as his career-minded daughter who find herself going head-to-head and finally heart-to-heart with the old curmudgeon. The rest of the casting - with people like Justin Timberlake, John Goodman, Matthew Lillard, Robert Patrick and many more, some of whom you will recognize and some you won't - is terrific, even occasionally inspired. The movie got me, unexpectedly. And I'm glad.End of Watch
is another movie I expected not to like, and the first 15 minutes or so confirmed it for me. The jerky camera moves, the music and the writing just struck me as too much like a video game, and I was shaking my head, wondering why I'd dropped the $11. But then, slowly, the characters (two cops, played by Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Pena) got under my skin, and I began to root for them, feel for them, admire them. In the end, it is the 2012 version of a buddy movie ... and I really like the serious work that writer/director David Ayer has done here. It may take some time to get used to End of Watch
, but it is worth the effort.
One wine to recommend this week - the 2008 Frank Family Vineyards Zinfandel from Napa, which is great with spicy food. Try it, and thank me later.
That's it for this week. Have a great weekend, and i'll see you Monday.