Sunday, October 07, 2007
Movie Reviews: EASTERN PROMISES & 1408
Nikolai (Viggo Mortensen), who belongs to one of London's most feared organized crime families, meets a midwife (Naomi Watts) who unwittingly holds damaging information that could lead to unraveling the family's criminal network. Nikolai must make sure this doesn't happen without ruining the young woman's life.
Cast Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel, Armin Mueller-Stahl (more)
Director(s) David Cronenberg
Writer(s) Steven Knight
Status In theaters (wide)
Release Date Sept. 14, 2007
Running Time 100 minutes
MPAA Rating R - for strong brutal and bloody violence, some graphic sexuality,
language and nudity
Eastern Promises is quite simply one of the best films of the year. David Cronenberg's new film is a complex and totally enthralling work that keeps your eyes glued to the screen throughout. This is due in no small part to stellar performances from the cast. Viggo Mortensen turns in quite possibly his best performance ever and is fully deserving of an Oscar nod come nomination time. Mortensen's Nikolai is a massively compelling character and it's impossible to take your eyes off him when he's on screen. Vincent Cassel supporting role as Kirill is excellent and he gives the character, which could have been played very clichéd in lesser hands, plenty of depth and pathos. Naomi Watts almost gets lost in the mix but her subdued performance is on par with rest of the cast even if her role isn't as meaty as her counterparts. Cronenberg takes advantage of these wonderful performances and elevates what could have been a very straight forward, even clichéd, thriller and turns it into an operatic piece of art with very Cronenberg sensibilities. Try not to winch and grimace during the naked knife fight which is as potent an action sequence as I've seen on celluloid. I've always been a fan of Cronenberg's work but his recent films like A History of Violence and Eastern Promises he's elevated his game to a truly masterful level.
Mike Enslin (John Cusack) is a guy who stubbornly refuses to believe in the
paranormal. In fact, he's written two bestselling books debunking myths and rumored hauntings. His latest subject is a hotel room in New York City with a dark and infamous past. However, in his determination to prove that 1408 is not haunted, Enslin may just stumble into a real-life ghost story.
Cast John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Mary McCormack, Tony Shalhoub (more)
Director(s) Mikael Håfström
Writer(s) Matt Greenberg, Scott Alexander, Larry Karaszewski
Status On DVD
Release Date June 22, 2007
DVD Release Date Oct. 2, 2007
Running Time 94 minutes
MPAA Rating PG-13 - for thematic material including disturbing sequences of violence and terror, frightening images and language
1408 starts off very well establishing mood and a pervasive sense of
dread but quickly fizzles out as it crashes towards the end. Mikael Håfström (Derailed) movie starts with excellent pacing and wonderfully sets up shots that give the film a refined sense of quality. Unfortunately, once the action moves to the actual room these lavish shots quickly disappear and we are subjected to a fairly pain by the numbers ghost/haunted story. The story is surprisingly layered and deep but the execution just fails. My main issue with this film is that John Cusack is so over the top that it's distracting and hard to take him or the story serious. Needless to say I didn't find it particularly frightening or disturbing, on a side note it did make me want to watch The Shining again. As the film progresses and the situations get more and more outlandish the movie it becomes more of a chore to watch than anything else. 1408 starts the movie with the promise of great things ahead but fails to deliver anything new or frightening.