Tag Archives: drama

REVIEW – The Soloist

  After finally watching this film sans potty breaks, I got down to work on this review.  I just had so much to say about it, seeing as Downey, Jr. is my favourite actor of the moment.  Is there an Oscar nod in his future?  I can’t say.  But what I can say is that his performance here would take Pacino any day of the week.  Hence follows my humble opinion. 

So close. Sooooo close. I first had misgivings about this film when Paramount pushed back the release date from Oscar-friendly November to the no-man’s-land of April. Some of my misgivings were justified. Most were not. While the narrative thread is strong and well-told by Downey’s Lopez, it feels slightly choppy. The story’s arc gets lost in a few places, partly because of the directorial decision to insert flashbacks to Ayers’ (Foxx) childhood. It does give us a feel for his tumultuous past, but it also disrupts the story somewhat.

And speaking of Mr. Foxx, I must admit myself disappointed. I am Sam this is not. Though his delivery seems by-the-book Oscar-worthy, there’s no connection to his character, as if he’s holding it at arm’s length. Just going through the motions of what a paranoid schizophrenic might do. The direction doesn’t help, either. What was intented to be a Fantasia-like moment was really just an overly long eyesore. On the other side of the spectrum, Downey’s performance is a triumph. And I say that with as little bias as humanly possible for a fan like myself. Compared to Foxx’s slightly-overdone character, his understated, desperate portrayal is wonderful to watch. Besides this, the other strong point in the film is the gritty honesty of street life in LA and mental illness. It’s frightening and slightly disturbing, offering a nice contrast from Lopez’s professional lifestyle. While the melodrama does tend to creep into the script, especially near the end, those moments of immediacy and reality make it all worthwhile. So close to being great.

3 1/2 STARS 

 

And that’s that.  The latest and greatest RDJ film in my review books.  With Sherlock Holmes and Iron Man 2  well underway, I look forward to spending some more time at my computer, completely geeking out.

Did you see The Soloist?  Did this change your mind?  Confirm what you had already suspected?  Make you believe in my awesome power of judgement?  Comment below!

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SEQUEL SMACKDOWN: The Fugitive vs. U.S. Marshals

  Well, this is the first of what I hope will be a feature on the blog – SEQUEL SMACKDOWN!

Many will agree that The Fugitive is one of the classic thrillers of the 90’s, but how does it stack up against its sequel, which features my much-loved Robert Downey, Jr.?

The Fugitive
Nothing new or particularly noteworthy, but definitely a solid thriller. Ford and Jones *make* this movie, I might add. Not much else to say… there were some moments where I was glued to the screen, others where I was just, well, watching a movie. Worth having in your library.

 4 STARS

U.S. Marshals
Not too spectacular. It often felt like a scene-for-scene rehash of The Fugitive, borrowing extensively from the original’s plot. Jones manages to bring some level of depth, but almost everyone else is perfectly one-dimensional. I’d love to say that Downey, Jr. makes a good villain here, but…. meh. That freshness that usually pulls him through even the most unwieldy of scripts is completely missing. The stunt work is very cool and there’s some edge-of-your-seat moments, but nothing at the same calibre of The Fugitive.

2 1/2 STARS

So there you have it!  As with so many poorly conceived sequels, The Fugitive leaves U.S. Marshals in the dust on almost every count.  Except for RDJ.  But that says a lot when even Robert couldn’t save this lacklustre sequel.  Stay tuned for another SMACKDOWN coming soon!

 

   

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REVIEW – Inside Hana’s Suitcase

Yup, you guessed it, the very first exclusive review!  This won’t make it to Flixster because it isn’t listed, unsurprisingly.

I saw this with Portia, a friend of mine, at the Victoria Film Festival a few weeks ago and have been itching to let people know about this fantastic film.

The story of Hana Brady is one that transcends most other documentaries I’ve seen based on its simplicity and classic story-telling style.  The stories of Hana, killed in Auschwitz as a girl, and her brother George are intertwined with that of Fumiko Ishioka, a Japanese school teacher who comes to possess Hana’s suitcase.  Driven by curiosity, she not only discovers Hana’s fate, but also that of George’s, who lives in Toronto.  He visits her and her class, The Small Wings, to see and touch one of the most precious of Hana’s belongings.  This blending of past and present is captured in an interesting way, combining both candid interviews with fictional flashbacks.

George’s honesty and Fumiko’s tireless drive are really captured well, as well as giving the audience an unprecedented glimpse into the life of a victim of the Nazis.  From the magic tricks their father used to perform to the bottle full of a young girl’s frustrations buried in the back yard, the film is incredibly intimate.  Yet at the same time, it takes a global scale when Hana’s story travels beyond the Brady’s home in the Czech Republic to Japan to Canada and all across Europe.  It’s a tragic story, to be sure, but it’s full of hope and loving memory.  The music, I felt, really reflected all those tones, though it could be a bit overwhelming in certain scenes.

The message comes through loud and clear – this must never happen again.  Because Hana’s story is only one of millions.

What really made this film come alive for me was that after the screening, Larry Weinstein, the director, introduced us to George and his daughter, who had attended the premiere.  I must admit, seeing him there after being given such a penetrating look into his suffering and his family, I broke down in tears, like many others.  It was a complex mix of deep respect, gratitude, and pride in his courage.  And it’s a feeling I won’t forget.  I can only hope that Hana’s and George’s story will continue to touch lives as it has mine.

Copyright:  Brady Family, 2004

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