Monday, April 03, 2006

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

Crash (2004)
Starring:Sandra Bullock Don Cheadle Matt Dillon Jennifer Esposito William Fichtner Brendan Fraser Terrence Dashon Howard Ludacris Thandie Newton Ryan Phillippe
Director:Paul Haggis
Run time:112 mins
A car accident brings together a group of strangers in Los Angeles.
My Thoughts
I re-rented this film after its Oscar win, if only to see if I missed something last time. In my opinion I didn’t. I still find this film patronizing, poorly acted and riddled with ridiculous coincidences all of which are used to clumsily push the “plot” forward. Maybe I’m missing something or maybe it’s the subject matter rather than the way it was executed that was being honoured, either way I wasn’t impressed.
** Stars
The Assassination of Richard Nixon (2004)
Starring:Sean Penn Naomi Watts Don Cheadle Jack Thompson Michael Wincott Mykelti Williamson
Director:Niels Mueller
Run time:91 Genres:Drama
In 1974, one man made an appointment with history. Bicke is a salesman whose overly idealistic mindset is hopelessly at odds with the life that surrounds him. He desperately clings to his estranged wife and children, a job that undermines his basic belief in trust and loyalty, alienated friends and family and a last, floundering attempt at his own independent business. But as his world begins to crumble into disarray, it triggers a crusade for redemption that has shattering consequences...
My Thoughts
I really enjoyed this film, though I didn’t expect to, given its somewhat bleak story line. Sean Penn is remarkable as a man whose life is slowly unraveling against the backdrop of Nixon’s own descent into notoriety and shame. This culminates in an explosive meeting of the two stories. Excellent support comes from Naomi Watts as his estranged wife and Don Cheadle as his prospective business partner both fighting their own particular demons but whilst they cling on to the crumbling American dream, Bicke (Penn) is overwhelmed by its demise at the hands of the corrupt Nixon with tragic results. The more I see of Penn the more I like him; I think he really has the potential to become America’s foremost screen actor, a role currently vacant since Brando’s demise. This part will do nothing but enhance his reputation and I’m surprised this gem received such scant attention when it was released last year.
**** Stars

The Last Mitterrand (2005)
Starring:Michel Bouquet Jalil Lespert Philippe Fretun Anne Cantineau
Director:Robert Guediguian
Run time:111 mins
Genres:Drama Foreign/Arthouse
A young journalist helps the dying French President compile his memoirs
My Thoughts
I really wanted to like this film as I have real affection for Mitterrand as a statesman and as a person. Mitterrand, Like Thatcher, is a dazzling character, you may not admire his politics but the man himself is fascinating and commands respect. With such rich inspiration for its subject and the juxtaposition of the idealistic young journalist’s search for truth and the old man attempting to re-write his own history, before he dies, you should have the making of a great piece of cinema. Should have…..alas the script and Guediguian’s clumsy direction reduce Mitterrand to a dull old man and the journalist to a two dimensional stereotype neither of which I particularly cared for. Bouquet, a usually fine actor, does his best but even he is defeated by the script. In one particularly clumsy speech he describes each country as having its own colour and claims the colour of France is grey. Sadly the same can be said of this film which is tragic given how colourful the subject (Mitterrand) really was.
* 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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