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Michael Is Mad About Movies

Friday, 28 September 2007

MICHAEL IS MAD ABOUT MOVIES!

Michael joins us with the must see movies for this weekend.

THE BRAVE ONE (16)                

Courtesy: Warner Brothers
Starring: Jodie Foster, Naveen Andrews, Terrence Howard
Director: Neil Jordan

Verdict: Producer Joel Silver, master of the action movie, and director Neil Jordan would seem unlikely bedfellows but they have successfully joined forces for this genre movie which offers star (and executive producer) Jodie Foster one of the meatier roles of her already glittering career. Foster plays a radio DJ whose life is turned upside down when she and her boyfriend are viciously attacked in Central Park. When her boyfriend subsequently dies, Foster decides to take the law into her own hands and sets out to avenge his murder.

Some commentators have lazily described The Brave One as a modern day Death Wish, but that is not doing justice to either Foster or Jordan, who is expert at exploring the darker side of people's nature.

This is a revenge movie with much to say about redemption through violence and how the act of violence itself forever changes the person responsible for the act. Having Foster in the lead role inevitably evokes memories of Taxi Driver, notably in one scene were Foster approached a hooker and his pimp, and in another, where she first gets to use her gun during a late-night robbery in an off-licence.

If there is a slight flaw with the movie, it's in the relationship between Foster and the detective on her trail (the always excellent Terrence Howard), which sometimes doesn't ring true, but otherwise we have another intelligent movie from Jordan and another superb performance from Foster.


MICHAEL CLAYTON (15A)
 
Courtesy: Pathe Distribution
Starring: George Clooney, Tom Wilkinson, Sydney Pollack, Tilda Swinton
Director: Tony Gilroy

Verdict: You have to hand it to Tony Gilroy. It can't have been easy for the celebrated screenwriter (The Bourne trilogy/Proof of Life) to make his directorial debut knowing that the roster of producers on board the project included a raft of Oscar-winning film-makers - Anthony Minghella, Steven Soderbergh, Sydney Pollack and George Clooney. As it turns out, Gilroy has delivered one of the most impressive debuts in recent years and one of the finest films of 2007.

Clooney (who seems to be getting better as an actor with age) plays the eponymous character, a fixer for a law firm called in to unravel an almighty mess when fellow litigator Tom Wilkinson suffer a breakdown in the middle of a multibillion class action law suit.

Beautifully shot by Robert Elswit (Syriana), the movie is a throwback to those classic thrillers from the 1970s, notably The Parallax View, in that the narrative is unhurried and elliptical. Clooney is superb in his role and should be rewarded with an Oscar nomination; ditto Sydney Pollack, an under-rated actor who stands out as Clooney's Machiavellian boss. Tom Wilkinson has never been better as the company's top litigator (now slowly unravelling) and there's a marvellous score from James Newton Howard.

Michael Clayton is a marvellous drama and a triumph for both Gilroy and Clooney.

ACROSS THE UNIVERSE (12A)
 
Courtesy: Sony Pictures
Starring: Evan Rachel Wood, Jim Sturgess
Director: Julie Taymor

Verdict: Beatles fans will be enchanted by this musical which uses the songbook of the Fab Four as its inspiration. Wood and Sturgess topline as the star-crossed lovers Lucy and Jude (geddit?) whose story moves from Liverpool to New York to Vietnam and incorporates their friends Jo-Jo and (dear) Prudence. Taymor is noted as an innovative director (she was responsible for the stage spectacle of The Lion King) and she brings all her guile to bear on this tale. Watch out for cameos from Bono (who gets to sing I Am The Walrus), Eddie Izzard and Salma Hayek.

Trivia: Salme Hayek specifically requested to appear in the film. When director Julie Taymor mentioned the role of the Bang Bang Shoot Shoot Nurse, Hayek replied, "Just ONE of the nurses, Julie?" (Source: imdb.com)

MR. WOODCOCK (15A)

Courtesy: Entertainment Films
Starring: Billy Bob Thornton, Sean William Scott, Susan Sarandon
Director: Craig Gillespie

Synopsis: John Farley, author of a best-selling self-help book about letting go of the past, violates his own advice when he returns to his small hometown to receive the community's highest honor. While there, John learns, to his horror, that his widowed mother, Beverly, is engaged to be married to none other than Mr. Woodcock, the gym teacher whose sadistic exploits were the bane of John's youth. Abetted by his nerdy old pal, Nedderman, John plots to break-up the relationship. But their well-laid plans go awry. (Source yahoo movies online)

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