Old Reviews 2010

I think that DiCaprio is the best actor going. I know that every actor has some dud films but by and large DiCaprio has made great choices along the way of his career that has enabled him to pretty much pick what he wants to do and be involved with in terms of a film. This is the second pairing of Kate Winslet and DiCaprio (of course the first being Titantic) and they seem to make a great team. Sometimes i have heard that to get ready for roles actors will stay away from each other especially if in the film that are to be enemies in some form. While I don’t know for sure it seems that during the course of this film the two actors develop genuine dislike for one another. But on the other hand, how many films are actually shot chronologically? So what we may be watching are two young, extremely talented actors pouring their emotions into this film. Revolutionary Road is not what I thought it was going to be about at all. In fact by the end of it i was ready to turn it off and find the funniest show we had and watch that as a relief to what my wife and i just watched in Revolutionary Road. But that was the double edged sword of this film. It presented a complete deconstruction of the 50’s/60’s (which was refreshing) and told the sad tale of two lovers being pulled apart by the mundane, the ordinary and the inability to be “special people” in the world. One wants to live out their original dreams of changing the world, the other while not happy is learning to be content in what they have. And the two opposite forces that drive those yearnings come face to face in a harrowing collision. There are numerous scenes that stand out but one that, to me, “defined” this film was a scene in which one person tells the other of their infidelity and the other responds that they can “f*&^” whomever they want because they don’t love them anymore (this person has been unfaithful as well). I can’t say enough of the acting of these two. DiCaprio is brilliant and engaging. The movie is littered with language and while, fortunately, the two kids of this couple are off-screen most of the time you wonder what these kids must feel and experience and how that will affect them in the years to come. It is a passionate, intense and powerful movie. As the opening line of the review over at Pluggedin said, “Despair rarely knocks.” How true and for the Wheelers (the couple in this film) how, ultimately, sad.

What happens when you find out that you are going to die? Of course we are all dying. But some of us are dying more quickly than others. Enter Henry Poole. Henry is a young middle age man who has been given the diagnosis of his life…which will end his life. Henry becomes bitter, angry and just plain mean. But life is about to change for Poole. He moves into a house that soon becomes a neighborhood gathering point not because it’s the cool house to be at, but rather Jesus shows up. Or more literally because a mysterious “water spot” shows up on the side of his house that looks like Jesus. And while Henry is a skeptic those around him become alive with and to it’s “healing” properties. And the movie expands the question remains will Henry remain skeptical of it’s potential to heal him or will he become more entrenched in his doubt, anger and disbelief? The movie has great performances by every cast member (especially Henry’s meddling older neighbor) but two actors stand out. George Lopez is awesome not because he has a huge role in the film but it is, perhaps, the only role, I have seen him in, that wasn’t comedic and he is actually very good. And Luke Wilson. Luke is much more talented and gifted as an actor than his brother Owen. And he delivers a believable, down-to-earth character that we can identify with as he struggles with life, death and faith. This movie didn’t earn a lot of money but garnered good reviews. It is well worth the watch and explores questions of faith and spirituality especially during times of trouble and heart-ache. Will the most staunch Christ-follower be happy with how the movie deals with spirituality and faith? Probably not. But it does at least open the door to questions and explorations and that is a good thing. Does a miracle come to Henry Poole? Watch and find out.

I got this movie for my wife for her birthday. It was strange for a couple of reasons. First, it was a movie that i hadn’t even heard of before i was at Wal-Mart looking for a movie to potentially buy for her. Second, i bought it at full price which we hardly ever do and made it all the more scary if the movie turned out to be a complete dud. Fortunately, it turned out to be a really good “chick-flick”. The plot is tried (albeit old) and true – completely opposite pair is thrown together for a reason, sparks fly (both good and bad) and they end up falling for each other. But what made this movie enjoyable was one, a great locale. Wales. It’s beautiful. The scenery was absolutely breath-taking and my wife loved the accents. Second, Adams’ and Goode have great chemistry. Like I said, the plot was nothing new but they made it work because they had such believable characters, good quips back and forth to each other and the plot, itself, was not stretched to unbelievable proportions. If you are looking for a great movie to relax to, laugh with and just have fun with….then this may be the movie for you.

$500,000 to $11,000,000. That’s how big the kick backs grow from. It’s also just one of several lies that Mark Whitacre tells in this darkly humorous, engaging, based on real life events, yet bizarre tale of price fixing, embezzlement and a biochemist moonlighting as a FBI informant.

I am not sure if Mark Whitacre was simply an egomaniac, mentally imbalanced or some combination of the two. But he clearly had issues when his first lie was to save his own job (“there is a mole in our company”). As the movie goes along the viewer is left to wonder, “how many more lies can he come up with.” The problem is, except for his first lie (which was a lie) Mark Whitacre simply says something to the effect of, “I haven’t been completely honest with you….”. In other words, he is not telling absolute lies but is withholding facts to be used later on when the time is right. So the question I had while I watched the movie was more like, “what is he leaving out?”.

In the movie it becomes apparent that Mark believes that his informing to the FBI of illegal activities at ADM will culminate in his becoming the president of the company. Yet, at the end of the day all it got him was a prison sentence.

There are several important themes that run through this movie….not least of which is the consequences that come with lying. And as much as you find yourself rooting for Mark, while the story unfolds you see that all that glitters is not gold. Mark has some serious flaws (lying, stealing, egotistical) and some serious issues to work out in himself. As an observer you have some compassion because some of what Mark did was at least, partially, attributed to his Bi-polar.

The movie takes place back in the early 90’s and follows a 3 or so year expanse. But the movie’s music and on screen scripting (ie, a city that Mark has traveled to) is more 70’s inspired.

Mark (the character) and Mark (the real person) are both intelligent (bio-chemists). In fact he is so smart that he refers to himself as “0014”…..and why? Because he is “twice as smart as 007.” It is a fascinating story that would have just been okay had it not been based on real life events. Because it turns on the fact of being true to life it crosses from okay to engaging.

To run away from trouble is aform of cowardice and, while it is true that the suicide braves death, he does it not for some noble object but to escape some ill.” Aristotle

The Last Word is billed, on it’s own cover, as “A romantic comedy where opposites distract.” The problem I have is two-fold: it wasn’t necessarily romantic (though as one of the themes of the movie was the newly formed (and from there very complicated) relationship between Ryder’s character and Bentley’s. And it wasn’t a comedy either. Drama, yes. Introspective, yes. Comedy? Not unless you count the quirky character played by Ray Romano. And even then the comedy was sparse and dark.

Bentley plays a writer whose job is to write “the last words” of people who have decided to take their own lives but he does so with poetic flair and tremendous ability. He happens to meet the estranged sister of his last ‘client’ while he attended his client’s funeral (which we learn later that he attends pretty much all their funerals – that is, if they go through with their plans). This sister, played by Ryder, strikes up a friendship and then pursues it further with Bentley unaware that he wrote her brother’s “last words” and when she begins to get to close to the truth, he finds himself telling lies to keep her away from what he truly does for a living.

Bentley plays his character brilliantly. He plays an introspective, book-worm that doesn’t date and wants to do the best job he can for those who have hired him. In the movie he strikes up a friendship with a new client (Romano) who is a great musician but has become depressed with life. Romano provides the comic relief in the movie but in a stoic, seriously disturbed type of way (the scaring babies scene was hilarious but his rational for doing it was kinda bizarre).

The chemistry between Ryder and Bentley is good and engaging. And the movie ends differently than one might expect. The friendship between Bentley and Romano, for me, was the highlight of the movie. As their business deal turns into friendship they find out that they need each other (and learn from each other) more than what they bargained for at first. The scene where Romano’s character decides to end his life is a truly moving part and a point in the movie in which directions and feelings are turned.

The movie brings up many ethical and moral questions to ponder and think about. The quality of life. Suicide. To what degree is one responsible for aiding or not stopping a suicide based on what they do or do not decide to do. Is suicide a viable option? What are the consquences for those ‘left behind.’

The movie is rated R for language. And, yep, it has a lot of it. If you can get past the language you just might find yourself engaged with a well-acted, unique movie that makes you think a lot more and a lot more deeply than merely a “romantic comedy.”

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