Like its protagonist, Bob Wilton (Ewan McGregor) this movie can’t decide if it should mercilessly mock the idea of an Army unit researching psychic phenomena as an alternative to war or cheer for the collection of oddballs who threw their lives into the endeavor. Director Grant Heslov tries to have it both ways and comes close to pulling it off.
2007 appears to have been the year of thirds, meaning the third entry in some highly visible film franchises. We had a third Shrek movie, a third Jason Bourne movie, a third Pirates of the Caribbean movie and a third Ocean’s Eleven movie. What does all of this mean? Absolutely nothing. It’s just a coincidence but I needed a way to open this review.
The real pleasure we get from watching movies like Ocean’s Thirteen has very little to do with storytelling, but derives from watching a lot of rich, good-looking people having a lot of fun doing things most of us just dream about. It’s fortunate that this is actually entertaining because there’s not a lot going on here in terms of story. Continue reading
The Thin Red Line
Terrence Malick’s first film as director in twenty years assembles various pieces of a great film into a mediocre one. The Thin Red Line is a meandering, obtuse rumination on the dehumanizing effects of war and will test the patience of even the most indulgent filmgoer. It runs close to three hours but probably only contains about two hours of story worth telling and not all of that feels like it comes from the same story.
The Good German
Steven Soderbergh’s latest experiment is a clear triumph of style and technique over coherence and content. The Good German is admirable as a successful attempt to revive some lost techniques of filmmaking. Sadly, the less than clear storyline and shallow characters squander what could have been an intriguing exercise in resurrecting some of the great traditions of classic Hollywood. It’s still interesting to look at but after the stylistic novelty wears off, you’ll find yourself checking your watch regularly.
In his superb documentary Looking for Richard, Al Pacino comments how hard it is for actors and audiences to keep straight all of the characters in Shakespeare’s historical plays. Watching Syriana, I kind of knew how he felt. This film is confusing and not because it’s badly written or any other fault of its own. It’s confusing because it’s about oil and politics, a subject that lends itself naturally to confusion.
Good Night, and Good Luck
Good Night, and Good Luck didn’t tell me much I didn’t know about the showdown between Edward R. Murrow and Joseph McCarthy, but then I considered myself reasonably informed on the events in question. The real issue is whether those ten and twenty years younger than my forty-[mumble-something] will learn anything about why the current state of network television news is so pitiful and how far it has fallen.