Friday, March 10, 2006

Screen Queen-Some of what I'm watching this Month

200 American (DVD)
Starring: Matt Walton Sean Matic Anthony Ames John-Dylan Howard Mark Ford Gail Herendeen Lucy Smith Director: Richard LeMay Run time: 100 mins Genres: Drama Gay/Lesbian Romance
Released: January 09, 2006
Conrad is a gay man living in NYC. He's also CEO of an ad agency and by nature a control freak. Although Conrad is still in love with Martin (his ex), he hires a young Aussie hustler named Tyler, first for a night and then to work for his company. Things get increasingly complicated as Conrad tries to rekindle things with Martin. Meanwhile Tyler (who's daytime name is Ian) falls for Michael his new supervisor...
My Thoughts
Low budget doesnt have to mean low quality but i'm afraid in the case of 200 American it certainly does. I could have overlooked the production values which resulted in this film looking like a classic of the wedding video genre, if and only if, there had been some semblance of plot, decent dialogue or charecterisation. Sadly there was not and this whole ghastly mess left me feeling I had wasted considerably more than the 100 minutes of my life that it took for this monstrosity to finish. The quality of this film was summed up for me by its closing credits which revealed that the second "lead" was also the transportation for the film!
Low budget Low quality leave well alone.
* Star
Good Night, And Good Luck (2005)
Starring: David Strathairn Frank Langella George Clooney Patricia Clarkson Robert Downey Jr. Jeff Daniels Director: George Clooney Run time: 90 mins Genres: Drama
George Clooney's second outing in the director's chair. Broadcast journalist Edward R. Murrow (Strathairn) looks to bring down Senator Joseph McCarthy.
My thoughts
For those of you who thought Mr Clooney was just a pretty face or The Cary Grant of the new millenium, think again. However it is exactly because of that pretty face and its box office clout that he is in a position to green light (albeit with a miniscule $8m budget) this kind of project. Clooney spends no time setting the scene or introducing characters instead in a refreshing change to most current filmakers he assumes, a degree of intellegence in the audience and for once I didnt feel patronised. Strathairn previously unknown to me, gives a tour de force performance which quite rightly earned him an Oscar nod and there is brilliant support from Clooney, Robert Downey Jnr and the fantastic (and hugely underrated) Patricia Clarkson.
In a time of hugely divided political opinion in the US the parralels between the current administrations attempts to make any criticism of its government tantamount to non patriotism and McCarthy's house of Un-American activities in the 50's are chillingly obvious. Good night and good luck reminds us, that when put into perspective, this period of history is a stain on America's reputation and history should not be allowed to repeat itself.
My favourite film so far this year a truly remarkable piece of cinema that has sent Mr Clooney soaring in my estimation.
***** Stars

Jarhead (2005)
Starring: Jake Gyllenhaal Scott MacDonald Lo Ming Kevin Foster Peter Sarsgaard Jamie Foxx Chris Cooper Director: Sam Mendes Genres: Action/Adventure Drama
Released: (unknown)
Based on former Marine Anthony Swofford's best-selling 2003 book about his pre-Desert Storm experiences in Saudi Arabia and about his experiences fighting in Kuwait.
My Thoughts
I tried very hard to like this film, I really wanted to like it and lets face it any film with gratuitous shots of Mr Gyllenhaal’s butt can’t be all bad, can it? The problem was, much as I appreciated the script and the quality of cinematography produced by the obviously hefty budget. I just couldn’t warm to Swafford, our hero and narrator and whilst the film did an adequate job chronicling the futility of war and its impact on real lives. I just didn’t like any of the characters (especially our hero) enough to care.
Dissapointing but not without merit
*** Stars
* Star-Complete turkey
** Stars-Yawn! bit of a dud
*** Stars-Not bad, but no masterpiece
**** Stars-Definately worth watching
***** Stars-An instant classic

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