V for Vendetta
In a story where Germany won a future World War and Great Britain is now a fascist state, a masked vigilante known only as "V"( Hugo Weaving ) conducts guerrilla warfare against the government. When he rescues a normal young woman (Portman), she joins his struggle against the forces of oppression...
Movies are typically given to allegory especially during turbulent times such as these. In fact I enjoy when most movies stand for more that what is up on the screen. That being said, I don't particularly enjoy it when a movies agenda is forced upon me. There are a lot of real world connotations in V most of which could have achieved via more subtle means. A few times during the movie I was entirely taken out of the flow and rhythm of the film because the filmmakers insist on spelling it out what the movie is referring to in the real world. These scenes are not widespread but they do tend to stick out, the most prominent an Abu Ghraib-like scene. Now that I've gotten that off my chest, on to the actual movie. V is an extremely enjoyable and smart film. Major credit has to be given to Hugo Weaving as the title character of V. His portrayal is excellent and the ability to emote via his voice is impressive. On the other hand, I found Portman's performance a bit stiff and uninspired; perhaps it was a bit of hang over from all the Star Wars films. Portman is fine actress, as she showed in last year's Closer, but she just seems flat. The action in the movie is nice, but James McTeigue's direction ensures it's not as overdone as The Wachoskis' last two Matrix films. V's final battle is particularly enjoyable and make good use of the terribly overused "bullet-time" which, here, doesn't feel passé. Aside from my stated concerns I found the movie to be fairly engrossing and enjoyable.
A History of Violence
Based on the graphic novel by John Wagner and Vince Locke, A History of Violence is the tale of Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) . Tom is a loving family man and well-respected citizen of a small Indiana town. But when two savage criminals show up at his diner, Tom is forced to take action and thwart the robbery attempt. Suddenly heralded as a hero who took the courage to stand up to crime, people look up to Tom as a man of high moral regard. But all that media attention has the likes of mobsters showing up at his doorstep, charging that Tom is someone else they've been looking for. Is it a case of mistaken identity or does Tom have a history that no one knows about? Either way, someone's about to find out if there's a history of violence.
David Cronenberg latest is an enjoyable if simplistic film. Cronenberg's previous films always seem to have 2 or 3 things going on but this one is fairly straightforward and probably his most accessible work, for mass consumption at least. Mortensen does well in the role but he doesn't quite achieve the type of panic or fear that the Tom Stall character should have had. In all honesty, Tom Stall comes off as a bit unrealistic; there are times when he seems almost super human and as a result you really don't get the sense of danger you should from certain scenes. Ed Harris and Maria Bello really shine in this film, one being terribly menacing and the later proving to be the most realistic character in the film. William Hurt was nominated for an Oscar for his role, but be warned his screen time is extremely limited and amounts to more a cameo. One last warning, Cronenberg shows the audience some of the most realistic gunshot wounds and injuries, when people get shot in this movie they don't just have squibs spattering red corn syrup.
Good Night, and Good Luck.
In the early 1950's, the threat of Communism created an air of paranoia in the United States and exploiting those fears was Senator Joseph McCarthy of Wisconsin. However, CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow (David Strathairn) and his producer Fred W. Friendly (George Clooney) decided to take a stand and challenge McCarthy and expose him for the fear monger he was. However, their actions took a great personal toll on both men, but they stood by their convictions and helped to bring down one of the most controversial senators in American history.
George Clooney's sophomore directorial entry is an excellent work, expertly crafted and directed in a documentary style that is fitting to the subject matter. David Strathairn performance as Murrow is pitch perfect and engrossing. Every moment he's on screen you can't take your eyes off of him. Clooney does well as Friendly but Strathairn controls the screen so thoroughly that the rest of the cast are overshadowed by his presence. An excellent piece of filmmaking that deserves all the kudos it received.