Tag Archives: movie review

Unstoppable

Here is my synopsis (with spoilers):

Wha, wha, whahhhhh! (Doppler effect)
“The train is out of control!”
“Millions of people will die!”
Chug, chug, chug. Whoosh!
“We must stop the train!”
Wha, waaa, wahhhhhhh! (Doppler effect)
“We can’t stop the train!”
“Damn fool kid!”
KABOOM!
Wa, wa, waahhhh! (Doppler effect)
“No! Ahhhhh!”
“Jump you pussy!”
“Yes!”

But really. This movie is totally badass.

I loved all the shots of rural Pennsylvania and its mill towns. I thought Washington and Pine were excellent together. Tony Scott studiously avoids any sort of deep, thoughtful stuff, but offers instead a tense, situational thriller that hits a lot of the right notes, with the usual cast of characters (Old Timer, New Kid, Stupid VP Bean Counter, Smart Boss).

The few obviously stupid parts (we can’t afford to make Chris Pine a dirty rotten wife beater) are more than overshadowed by how well it all comes together as a whole. Go see!

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Quantum of Solace

Bond. James Bond.

I’m still a big fan of Daniel Craig as the new James Bond, but the new take on the series is not without its problems.

This is the first time a Bond movie has done an honest to God sequel, starting minutes from where the last movie, Casino Royale, left off. This seems like a mistake. Bond movies just aren’t the kind of shows you commit to memory. I found myself grappling with vague memoires of minor characters from the last show, introduced into this movie with no preamble. Both plots are incomprehensible. Worse, the action scenes are edited in a way that makes them difficult to understand. The opening car chase is a wreck (literally and figuratively). There is a boat chase that is resolved as if by magic. There is a shot of a grappling hook lying in the bottom of Bond’s boat. Bond grabs for it, but we can’t see what he does with it. Next thing you know, the bad guy’s boat flips into the air, dumping everyone into the water. In the old movies, Bond might have found an inventive and unexpected way to use some gadget given him by Q to escape the bad guys and we would have been impressed with his resourcefulness. Here we can only imagine the director couldn’t come up with a better way to resolve the action. It just seems sloppy.

Bond is all new and more ferocious than ever, but sometimes the old Bond seems to rear his head. Strawberry Fields (Gemma Arterton), a beautiful MI6 field operative, is sent to bring Bond home, but he seduces her and runs up her expense account in a scene worthy of Roger Moore’s Bond.

The villain in this movie, like most Bond movies, is an evil mastermind. If this one is not bent on world domination, he at least has an international scheme. But it’s not the kind of evil plan you expect from a Bond movie, rather more like a thriller from something like Syriana. Maybe this is what makes the plot so incomprehensible. Why not just have a plot to blow up the moon? Whatever it is, it needs more diabolical.

Quantum of Solace is never uttered in the movie, but Quantum is the evil organization behind all the movie’s nefarious hijinks, like Get Smart’s CHAOS or the original Bond’s SPECTER. This organization seems to be a big international corporation. You have to wonder what QUANTUM might stand for or what it’s stock ticker might be (EVIL?).

You have to hope some of the rough spots of the new Bond franchise work themselves out. So far Craig’s intensity as Bond has been enough to hold it together, but how much longer can that last?

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Rachel Getting Married

Rachel Getting Married

The big problem with movies about drug addiction is that the dramatization typically simplifies things to the point of Pollyanna. Rarely do we get a glimpse of the family dynamics that often accompany drug addiction, unless those dynamics involve the disclosure of some lurking monster—a pedophile uncle, or a raging patriarch.

What’s refreshing and honest about Rachel Getting Married is that it strives to show a real family struggling with the burden of a daughter addicted to drugs. There is one horrific reveal that drives this drama, but this family secret doesn’t explain why Kym (Anne Hathaway) uses drugs. Rather it illustrates the nuance and complexity involved in this particular family’s dynamic: the father’s freakishly co-dependent need to care for everyone, brilliantly played by Paul (Would you like something to eat?) Irwin; the mother’s (Debra Winger) palpable distance from the rest of the family; and the daughters each appearing at opposite ends of the success scale, Kym an utter fuck up, and Rachel (Rosemarie DeWitt) a soon-to-be PhD.

No one walks away from this movie with a new resolve to behave better. Instead there is the realism of the unresolved emotional business for Kym and her mother. Nevertheless, the movie isn’t a downer. Rachel and Kym manage a truce that feels genuine. This is probably a testament to how good the script is. There is a gloriously agonizing wedding toast scene where Kym unintentionally humiliates Rachel. And then this scene is immediately followed by a companion scene where Rachel upstages Kym in a brilliant sibling verbal coup d’état. Both scenes are pitch perfect and make you wonder why anyone would want to start a family. But this bickering is all just a setup for the wedding itself, which seems genuine, heartfelt, and almost guaranteed to make you weep.

Rachel Getting Married isn’t cautionary tale. Nor does it make you long to be as hip as the drug addict at its lead. It’s just a genuine movie about how your family can destroy you and revitalize you, sometimes all at the same time. If drug addiction is a family disease, then surely the cure is as simple as this: LOVE.

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