Monday, May 01, 2006
Movie Reviews: United 93, Shopgirl & Match Point
This docudrama tells the story of the passengers and crew of United Airlines Flight 93, the fourth plane hijacked on Sept. 11, 2001. Told in real time, the film re-creates the doomed trip, from takeoff to the hijacking to the realization by those on-board that their plane was part of a coordinated attack against the United States.
Cast J.J. Johnson, Gary Commock, Polly Adams, Opal Alladin, Starla Benford (more)
Director(s) Paul Greengrass
Writer(s) Paul Greengrass
Status In theaters (wide)
Genre(s) Disaster, Docudrama
Release Date April 28, 2006
Running Time 111 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for some intense sequences of terror and violence
I knew United 93 was going be a tough movie to watch before I even walked into the theater. That being said, I was still taken aback at how hard it was to sit through this movie. Those of you not wanting to experience this should probably just stay away. The actual film is very well made. Paul Greengrass gives us a documentary like snap shot that time and itâs events. This movie is not didactic, instead Greengrass successfully shows the event unfold organically, with as little interference from the filmmaker as possible. The people in the film have only the slightest character development, which is fitting to the event it is attempting to document. The audience knows as little about the terrorist and passengers as they did on that fateful morning when they boarded the plane together. We see a group of people who are put in a terrible situation and theyâre reactions. Greengrass does an admirable job of piecing together this film and recreating all the confusion, terror and sadness of September 11th. This film is an engrossing glimpse of what possibly happen on United 93. Not for everyone but a fine piece of film making none the less.
Mirabelle (Danes) oversees the seldom-visited glove counter at Saks Fifth Avenue in Beverly Hills. She's also a struggling artist who can barely pay her student loans. In steps Ray Porter (Martin), a handsome, rich, 50-something bachelor. They begin dating, sort of, but at the same time, Mirabelle's going out with Jeremy (Schwartzman), a 20-something slob.
Cast Steve Martin, Claire Danes, Jason Schwartzman, Bridgette Wilson-Sampras, Samuel Bottoms (more)
Director(s) Anand Tucker
Writer(s) Steve Martin
Status On DVD
Genre(s) Romance, Comedy
Release Date Nov. 4, 2005 â limited; Oct. 28, 2005 â 10 cities; Oct. 21, 2005 â New York/Los Angeles/Toronto
DVD Release Date April 25, 2006
Running Time 104 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for some sexual content and brief language
Shopgirl is an occasionally funny, often touching look at relationships. Steve Martin masterfully adapts his novella to the screen. The movie is like watching poetry on film. There is an underlying lyricism to the entire production that it is just a joy to watch. The real gem in this movie is Claire Danes as Mirabelle, she is vulnerable and passionate. She perfectly conveys the sense of confusion and angst that most people go through during relationships. The movie as a whole at can seem a bit uneven as it fluctuates between moments of levity and drama. Personally, I think it accurately reflects what someone goes through during any succession of relationships, good times mixed with the bad. Steve Martin and Jason Schwartzman do well in there contrasting roles, the later does tend to fall into parody of characterâs heâs played in the past.
An out-of-work tennis pro named Chris (Rhys Meyers) meets a wealthy upper-class Brit, Tom (Goode), and marries his sister, Chloe (Mortimer). But soon Chris finds that he's impossibly drawn to Tom's American ex-fiancÃ©e, Nola (Johansson), which puts his marriage, friendship and financial standing at risk.
Cast Scarlett Johansson, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox (more)
Director(s) Woody Allen
Writer(s) Woody Allen
Status On DVD
Genre(s) Drama, Thriller
Release Date Dec. 28, 2005 â New York, Los Angeles; Jan. 6, 2006 â expands by eight cities; Jan. 20, 2006 â wide
DVD Release Date April 25, 2006
Running Time 124 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for some sexuality
Itâs been a long while since Woody Allen has made a truly special film. Match Point had me believing he had created a special film about 2/3 of the way through. Then the last 1/3 of the movie starts, which totally make you forget how well made the first 2 acts of the film were. The first 2/3âs of the film is excellent with wonderfully smart dialogue and an incredibly simple yet effective directorial style. This movie is quite a departure from Woody Allenâs earlier, better, movies. Match Point is a smart adult drama, until the horrid last act. Sarah Johansson and Jonathan Rhys Meyers, who looks like Joaquin Phoenixâs clone here, have real chemistry on screen which burns transcends the screen. They have the best verbal exchanges in the film. Emily Mortimer also does well with her screen time as Chloe, the filmâs doormat, as she masterfully conveys an innocent naivety. The real disappointment is the finale, which sees the character take on such drastic and unrealistic characteristic that it nearly makes the first 2/3 thirds of the movie pointless. I understand that Allen is trying to create an operatic type film but 3rd act just falls flat and rings hollow.