Monthly Archives: April 2009

Nothing But the Truth

Nothing But the Truth Movie Review

R, 108 min, 2008

Kate Beckinsale (Rachel Armstrong), Matt Dillon (Patton Dubois), Angela Bassett (Bonnie Benjamin), Alan Alda (Albert Burnside), Vera Farmiga (Erica Van Doren), David Schwimmer (Ray Armstrong), Courtney B. Vance (Agent O’Hara), Noah Wyle (Avril Aaronson), Floyd Abrams (Judge Hall), Preston Bailey (Timmy Armstrong), Kristen Bough (Allison Van Doren), Julie Ann Emery (Agent Boyd), Robert Harvey (Warden), Michael O’Neill (CIA Director), Kristen Shaw (Angel). Directed by Rod Lurie and produced by Marc Frydman, Lurie, and Bob Yari. Screenplay by Lurie.

Rod Lurie’s Nothing But the Truth is a fascinating, riveting, absorbing ripped-from-the-headlines political thriller about moral integrity, journalistic freedom and, yes, national security and what happens when all those virtues collide.

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The Soloist

The Soloist Movie Review

PG_13, 117 min, 2009

Jamie Foxx (Nathaniel Ayers), Robert Downey Jr. (Steve Lopez), Catherine Keener (Mary Weston), Tom Hollander (Graham Claydon), LisaGay Hamilton (Jennifer Ayers (as Lisagay Hamilton)), Nelsan Ellis (David Carter), Rachael Harris (Leslie Bloom), Stephen Root (Curt Reynolds), Lorraine Toussaint (Flo Ayers), Justin Martin (Young Nathaniel), Kokayi Ampah (Bernie Carpenter), Patrick Tatten (Paul Jr.), Susane Lee (Marisa (as Susane E. Lee)), Marcos De Silvas (Mayor Villaraigosa), Ilia Volok (Harry Barnoff). Directed by Joe Wright and produced by Gary Foster and Russ Krasnoff. Screenplay by Susannah Grant, based on the book The Soloist: A Lost Dream, an Unlikely Friendship, and the Redemptive Power of Music by Steve Lopez.

When I first saw the trailers for The Soloist, I thought two things: that it looked like the potential award nominee that time forgot, and that it looked as emotionally manipulative as all get out. Now that I’ve actually seen the film, I stand by the second inclination.

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The Informers

The Informers Movie Review

R, 98 min, 2008

Jon Foster (Graham Sloan), Billy Bob Thornton (William Sloan), Austin Nichols (Martin), Amber Heard (Christie), Lou Taylor Pucci (Tim), Fernando Consagra (Bruce), Aaron Himelstein (Raymond), Mel Raido (Bryan Metro), Rhys Ifans (Roger), Germán Tripel (Bryan’s Guitarist (as German Tripel)), Kim Basinger (Laura Sloan), Winona Ryder (Cheryl Moore), Brad Renfro (Jack), Suzanne Ford (Bruce’s Mother), Cameron Goodman (Susan Sloan), Mickey Rourke (Peter). Directed by Gregor Jordan and produced by Noli McCool and Marco Weber. Screenplay by Bret Easton Ellis & Nicholas Jarecki, based on a novel by Ellis.

The Informers is a soap opera in an emotional void, a slice of decadent life, a plotless and (nearly) pointless ramble through the underworld of 1983 Los Angeles. Somewhere in the metropolis, an orgiastic party occurs at a posh mansion, complete with fire fountains. A young man gets hit by a car and dies. His friend runs out into the middle of the street, clutching his hand. He’s stunned. Continue reading

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State of Play

State of Play Movie Review

PG_13, 127 min, 2009

Russell Crowe (Cal McAffrey), Ben Affleck (Stephen Collins), Rachel McAdams (Della Frye), Helen Mirren (Cameron Lynne), Robin Wright (Anne Collins (as Robin Wright Penn)), Jason Bateman (Dominic Foy), Jeff Daniels (George Fergus), Michael Berresse (Robert Bingham), Harry Lennix (Detective Bell), Josh Mostel (Pete), Michael Weston (Hank), Barry Shabaka Henley (Gene Stavitz), Viola Davis (Dr. Judith Franklin), David Harbour (PointCorp Insider), Sarah Lord (Mandi). Directed by Kevin Macdonald and produced by Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Andrew Hauptman. Screenplay by Matthew Michael Carnahan and Tony Gilroy and Billy Ray, based on a television series by Paul Abbott.

Kevin Macdonald’s State of Play is a riveting, absorbing, labyrinthine maze into which several characters are pulled, involving blackmail, murder, a sex scandal, infidelity, a shadowy government practice, and lots and lots of hidden motives.

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Observe and Report

R, 86 min, 2009

Seth Rogen (Ronnie), Ray Liotta (Detective Harrison), Michael Peña (Dennis), Anna Faris (Brandi), Dan Bakkedahl (Mark), Jesse Plemons (Charles), John Yuan (John Yuen), Matt Yuan (Matt Yuen (as Matthew Yuan)), Celia Weston (Mom), Collette Wolfe (Nell), Randy Gambill (Flasher), Alston Brown (Bruce), Cody Midthunder (D-Rock), Debra-Jayne Brown (Female Reporter), Aziz Ansari (Saddamn). Written and directed by Jody Hill. Produced by Donald De Line.

Observe and Report is a comedy that is just plain wrong – and then it takes a turn toward the dark which puts it in a new dimension; imagine if Taxi Driver had been made as a comedy and you’ll have some idea of the twist this takes. Continue reading

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Adventureland

Adventureland Movie Review

R, 107 min, 2009

Jesse Eisenberg (James Brennan), Kelsey Ford (Arlene), Michael Zegen (Eric), Ryan McFarland (Brad), Jack Gilpin (Mr. Brennan), Wendie Malick (Mrs. Brennan), Matt Bush (Tommy Frigo), Todd Cioppa (Velvet Touch Manager), Stephen Mast (Rich), Kristen Wiig (Paulette), Bill Hader (Bobby), Martin Starr (Joel), Adam Kroloff (Adult Contestant), Kristen Stewart (Em Lewin), Kevin Breznahan (Molly Hatchet T-Shirt Guy). Directed by Greg Mottola and produced by Anne Carey, Ted Hope, Sidney Kimmel. Screenplay by Mottola.

Greg Mottola’s Adventureland is a dry, deadpan coming of age dramedy and a surprisingly sweet-natured affair, given the pedigree of its maker and the rather dubious marketing strategy. Continue reading

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