Sunday, October 22, 2006
Movie Reviews: THE PRESTIGE, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING & Lucky Number Slevin
In early 20th-century London, a magician (Christian Bale) develops a rivalry with another conjuror (Hugh Jackman) after devising a seemingly impossible new trick.
Cast Christian Bale, Hugh Jackman, Scarlett Johansson, David Bowie, Michael Caine, Piper Perabo (more)
Director(s) Christopher Nolan
Status In theaters (wide)
Genre(s) Dramas, Thriller, Magic, London, England
Release Date Oct. 20, 2006
Running Time 128 minutes
MPAA Rating PG-13 - for violence and disturbing images.
Christopher Nolan's The Prestige is a taut totally engrossing movie that makes something as innocent as performance magic seem vicious and dangerous. The pledge, the turn and the prestige, are explained in the film as the 3 acts of any magic trick. The general structure of the movie works very much like the magic tricks described through the film. The first two thirds of the movie function as the pledge and the turn. Nolan shows us something normal and throughout most of the film the audience is looking for the trick but only part of it is fairly obvious. The finale does deliver a nice surprise, not as good as Nolan's other mind bender Memento, but still plenty enjoyable and like most good magic tricks, once you see the secret it's painfully obvious. The movie is helped by fine performances all around. Hugh Jackman and the terribly underrated Christian Bale are perfect as vengeful revenge filled men intent on bringing the other down at all cost. Michael Caine also delivers another great performance as his character tries to tame Jackman's desire for revenge. This is probably Nolan's 2nd best film of his very young filmmaking career, Memento is still my favorite, and I can't recommend it enough.
Lucky Number Slevin
In a case of mistaken identity, Slevin (Hartnett) finds himself in the middle of a crime war between the Rabbi (Kingsley) and the Boss (Freeman). He's trailed by a detective named Brikowski (Tucci) and an assassin called Goodkat (Willis). Slevin must clear his name, and quick, if he wants to keep living.
Cast Josh Hartnett, Morgan Freeman, Ben Kingsley, Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis, Stanley Tucci (more)
Director(s) Paul McGuigan
Writer(s) Jason Smilovic
Status On DVD
Genre(s) Dramas, Mystery, Romance, Blackmail, New York City, Gambling, Revenge, Mobsters
Release Date April 7, 2006
DVD Release Date Sept. 12, 2006
Running Time 110 minutes
MPAA Rating R - strong violence, sexuality and language
Lucky Number Slevin is sometimes inspired other times it just reeks of derivative slush. This film is really trying hard to be smart and tricky by keeping you off you feet but most of the time the film makers accomplish this simply by straight out lying to you in regards to what is happening. Josh Hartnett just seems a little to comfortable for someone who's in the position that Slevin is supposed to be in and make his character very hard to believe as the film progresses. Lucy Liu plays against type here and does well as the bubbly neighbor/love interest. Ben Kingsley and Morgan Freeman are interesting choices as the main villains but in the end these 2 perennial screen nice guys just seem mis-cast in their roles. Bruce Willis doesn't really add much to the film aside from just showing up and looking severe. The dialogue in the film is trying it's hardest to sound as cool as something in a Tarantino film but most of the time the lines just come off as silly. Visually this film is a joy to look at with some of the vibrant color choices which pop off the screen and give the film a distinctive style which is sadly lacking in the rest of the film.
THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
Nick Naylor (Eckhart) is a Big Tobacco lobbyist with questionable morals but undeniably successful spin skills. His son worships him, his boss loves him and his pro-cigarette publicity campaigns are outlandishly successful. Naylor finds his work increasingly difficult, however, after he's approached by a seductive newspaper reporter (Holmes).
Cast Aaron Eckhart, Robert Duvall, Katie Holmes, William H. Macy, Sam Elliott, Rob Lowe, Adam Brody
Director(s) Jason Reitman
Writer(s) Jason Reitman, Christopher Buckley
Status On DVD
Genre(s) Comedy, Satire
Release Date March 17, 2006
MPAA Rating R
Jason Reitman's, Ivan Reitman's son, first directorial outing is an overly sweet satire that works but doesn't go dark enough to achieve its full effect. Aaron Eckhart achieves an interesting level of likeability as a morally opaque tobacco lobbyist. Eckhart is inspired as "the oh so good" at his job lobbyist. He nails the character and it really shows in his performance. Some of the best scenes of this movie come when Eckhart is bantering back and forth with "The Mod squad (Merchants of Death)" the wonderful Maria Bello and David Koechner. Katie Holmes, on the other hand, comes across as unrealistic and paper thin it also doesn't help that she just seems way too young for the character she's portraying. This movie moves at a brisk pace and splatters of small artistic touches throughout make the film stand out vs. other more traditional films. That being said, this movie just doesn't go dark enough to make a strong enough statement about it's subject matter, it seems to pull back when it's heading towards a more effective edge. Still overall it's a very enjoyable satire worth your time.