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American Gangster, Lust Caution, Micheal ClaytonPosted Tuesday, February 19, 2008, at 9:42 AM
As with every week, I review the newest releases on DVD.
This is a film that is made by Hollywood elite. Ridley Scott (Gladiator, Kingdom of Heaven, Alien) directs Russell Crowe(Gladiator, Beautiful Mind) and Denzel Washington(Training Day, Philadelphia) in a movie produced by Brian Grazer(DaVinci Code, Apollo 13). These big name stars crank out a gangster movie that strays away from the hardcore violence for more of a drama/thriller vibe throughout. The movie does have its share of violence, but for a flick that is over two hours long if you watch the theatrical version, and close to going over three hours if you watch the unrated cut, the main violence has very little screen time. The two lead actors turn in excellent low key performances that are captivating to watch. Director Ridley Scott carefully paces the entire movie to slowly reveal the bits and pieces that the audience needs to know to keep the movie fresh. By the end, you are genuinely entertained and can't believe the 2 plus hours have already gone by. American Gangster is all about Frank Lucas(Washington) who starts up a drug 'business' by going straight to the source and buying directly and shipping it back to the US to sell for cheaper than the current leading drug. Frank's business takes off and he is soon higher than any of the current crime families as he supplies them with his drugs as well. Richie(Crowe) is the honest cop who has been assigned to find out where all the drugs are coming from. Ultimately the two men end up facing off at the end. I was quite impressed with this flick and highly recommend checking it out.
This is a controversial foreign film by Ang Lee who previously directed films such as Brokeback Mountain, Sense & Sensibility, The Hulk, and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The film is not in English so make sure you are prepared to do a lot of reading. With subtitles, a film is always not as good as it could be by just experiencing it, however with language barriers aside, I enjoyed this period thriller/drama/romance. It's a bit hard to classify the film as it has elements of a lot of genres. The story revolves around a girl who grows up into an organization that is trying to bring down the current government that has taken over their lands. She is sent in as a spy and ends up involving herself in a relationship with the man in charge to try to get him alone. This relationship evolves and changes over the period of the movie and eventually is the staging ground for the rest of the movie. The film has received lots of media attention since it was originally rated NC-17 for its scenes of sexuality. The studio that released it, ultimately decided to recut the film and release it as an R rated show in the US. Now, on DVD, the film is available as both NC-17 and the R rated version. I watched the R rated version as it was the only one available at Movie Gallery. Having not seen the NC-17 version, I can only review the R rated one. Of which, I do recommend, as it is a very well made flick with lots of intrigue and subtle acting that really captures your attention.
I unfortunately did not get to see Micheal Clayton yet. Description is as follows: Michael Clayton (George Clooney) is an in-house "fixer" at one of the largest corporate law firms in New York. At the behest of the firm's co-founder Marty Bach (Sydney Pollack), Clayton, a former prosecutor from a family of cops, takes care of Kenner, Bach & Ledeen's dirtiest work. Clayton cleans up clients' messes, handling anything from hit-and-runs and damaging stories in the press to shoplifting wives and crooked politicians. Though burned out and discontented in his job, Clayton is inextricably tied to the firm. At the agrochemical company U/North, the career of in-house chief counsel Karen Crowder (Tilda Swinton) rests on the settlement of the suit that Kenner, Bach & Ledeen is leading to a seemingly successful conclusion. When the firm's top litigator, the brilliant Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), has an apparent breakdown and tries to sabotage the entire case, Marty Bach sends Michael Clayton to tackle this unprecedented disaster and, in doing so, Clayton comes face to face with the reality of who he has become.
Margot at the Wedding
Margot Zeller (Nicole Kidman), a savagely bright, razor-tongued short-story writer who creates chaos wherever she goes, sets off on a surprise journey to the wedding of her estranged and free-spirited, unassuming sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh). Margot, with her all-too-rapidly maturing son Claude (Pais) in tow, arrives with the gale force of a hurricane. From the minute she meets Pauline's fiancÚ -- the unemployed artist Malcolm (Black) -- Margot starts to plant seeds of doubt about the union. As the wedding approaches, one complication crashes into the next: vengeful neighbors, a beloved tree in the backyard and Margot's own marital turmoil. The two sisters, find themselves at the precipice of an unexpected transformation ultimately revealing that even when your family is about to implode... the one thing you can cling to for solace and comfort is your imploding family.
That's it for this week. As always, Movie Gallery in McCook has these available to rent for your viewing pleasure.
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Cody Dame is the CEO and owner of three local McCook Businesses, Game On, Spotlight Studios and Divine Productions. He also manages to work for the McCook Daily Gazette.
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