Sunday, May 31, 2009

"Romeo Is Bleeding" - Oldman and Olin at their best

In my opinion, "Romeo is Bleeding" is both Gary Oldman's best movie and his best performance. His portrayal of an extremely corruptible New York cop is fascinating and magnificently-layered. Oldman's intensity as an actor is palpable without resorting to simply being loud.

The story: a traitorous cop is asked to tackle a job for the Russian mafia, and it brings him into the orbit of a mesmerizing woman (Lena Olin) with implacable and sultry survival skills.

The theme of this film is a story-telling classic: betrayal. The extent of betrayal here is almost unequaled; almost every person and ideal in the movie is stained by it. Duty, promises, allegiances - they're repeatedly marred by corruption and avarice. As his main traits, they're exemplified and thoughtfully-detailed in Oldman's lead role. He has real dreams and feelings, clearly loving his spouse - but he would fink on fellow cops and his wife for the smallest, or most transient, gains.

Friday, May 22, 2009

"Brick" - one of the best of the best

"Brick" is my favorite movie from 2006. I heard the Sundance buzz about this indie masterpiece on, and eagerly waited six months for its arthouse release. The hype did not hamper my enjoyment of this film - I have seldom been more impressed and entertained by a movie.

The flick is about a California high school student who is drawn into a dangerous mystery. Brendan's a smart loner, played brilliantly by Joseph Gordon-Levitt. A message in his locker directs him to a payphone. There he receives a frantic phone call from his ex-girlfriend (Emilie De Ravin from "LOST").

He can scarcely understand the words she says, but her tone screams "frantic and fearful." Brendan then tries to figure out what sort of trouble she's in, as he runs up against jocks, drug-heads, scandalously pretty girls, and thugs. But helping her - in the way either he or she wants - is going to be Herculean feat.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

"The Midnight Meat Train" Review "Choo! Choo! Gurgle, gurgle."

I rented "The Midnight Meat Train" (great title!) because it was taken from a Clive Barker anthology that my brothers owned (they read everything, including horror). I read part of the book as a child and liked some of Barker's creepy stories. Though I'm pretty tough on new horror flicks, I think this one did a good job.

It seems like most modern horror films (mid-90's to now) make all the same mistakes; "The Midnight Meat Train" is not one of those movies. Ultimately, my feelings about it are similar to what I felt for "Being John Malkovich" - a good movie that I really didn't like. Watching "MMT" was reasonably fun, and the many good qualities of the flick are obvious; I can recommend it, but don't want to see it again.

The story is simple: dedicated photographer (Bradley Cooper of "Alias," "The Wedding Crashers") walks the streets at night for his artistic project. He finds a pack of subway thugs robbing a woman and stops them. But the next day's newspaper says that she's a famous model, and never made it home. This somehow leads him to find a creepy, imposing man (Vinnie Jones), with whom he develops a "Rear Window" type of obsession. His fine girlfriend (Leslie Bibb) is worried. Horror ensues.