This is one of those troubling stories that emerge out of the history of our time that catches us
off guard because most of us are not familiar with the event. As a consequence, the drama that unfolds is all the more captivating. Unfortunately, the story (even though vivid for the heroics that emerges) is still staid and tried. It is a rescue play replete with daring, action, violence, intrigue, romance, and issues of uncertainty. Certainly survival matters are portrayed well, adversity is compounded, and the Jewish sense of Exodus is well plotted. The problem comes in the lack of shedding any new light on the real drama of evil that hasn’t already been tried. Daniel Craig (as Tuvia), Liv Schreiber (as Zus), Jamie Bell (as Asael and shaking free of his Billy Elliott image), and George MacKay (as Aron) are solid characterizations, but it just does rise above an action-adventure flick. I think a Discovery Channel documentary might have done better.
This movie is a medley of masochistic mayhem! I don’t know that Mickey Rourke (as Randy, the Ram,
Robinson) deserves an Academy award for this work as he does not seem to be acting very far removed from his own aging personality and descent into chaos. Perhaps being recognized is sufficient. But do take note that he will captivate you in this despondent and pathetic view of a man who makes choices that confirm his own internal pain while seeking vindication through the arena of false approval found in fans who are on their own selfish quest for vicarious blood-thirst satisfaction. Marisa Tomei (as the struggling stripper who bares out fully in her character) and Evan Rachel Wood (as his dissonant daughter) are running parallel lives of despair which complement the theme. This is a carefully crafted complex character study which has depth and quality that will erode your ability to keep distance. Be ready to be slammed down.
I know that it is billed as a romantic-comedy, but I am not sure it is really much of either. This
film has it high points and even makes the point that falling in love for older people has built-in quirks rather well, but it falls short of giving any of the characters much of a chance to build needed depth and substance. The result is character sketches: Harvey (Dustin Hoffman) a disaffected musician with secretive ambitions to perform jazz caught in a spin cycle of job pressures, loneliness, aging, and a distinct father-daughter dissonance; Kate (Emma Thompson) a disappointed maiden caught in a futile cycle of job-mom-job-mom, loneliness, aging, and a detouring mother-daughter dependency; and everyone else filling in the necessary pieces to make this old story fly. All the loose ends are neatly wrapped up in the end. It should have been either much more a drama, or much more a comedy and it would have really had potential with the power of the actors selected.
Seven pounds is about six pounds too much. It is good to create a film about reconciliation and
redemption, but as soon as the mysterious title evaporates, one is left wondering why this brilliant man, Ben Thomas (played by Will Smith), would not have chosen a better way to placate his guilty conscience than self-annihilation. His effort at protracted suicide is not sacred, not even sacrificial, but self-pitying mortification that belongs to the middle ages. I suspect that the edginess of the film was intended to evoke tears and distress in the viewers because it certainly worked in a determined, albeit confusing way to bring this about. This results in disappointment and depression when the reasons for initially apparent altruism become clear. There are legitimate issues at stake, issues about sin and failure, about pain and anguish, about love and ultimate responsibility to each other, but this film chooses to not address them. Instead, we get negative moodiness and despair.
Entertaining. Captivating. Well executed. Beautifully filmed. Balanced. Mysterious and
puzzling. You can see I enjoyed this film. There is even some Oscar-quality acting going on within the confines of this intriguing use of the short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It seems to border on the science fiction fringe, but manages to pull off being a good tale (like Big Fish or Forrest Gump), without having to explain the peculiarities and loose ends. You have to be prepared for its length, its staging in segments or vignettes, and the continual reassessing of how we normally process time and age, but in the end the whole thing begins to make sense. The narration by lead character Benjamin only serves to amplify the effect to the positive. Look for kudos for Cate Blanchett (as Daisy) and Taraji P. Henson (as Queenie). Even Brad Pitt might get a nod or two; and the makeup artists are to be applauded.
August: Osage County
The Curious Case of Benjamin...
The Secret Life of Bees
The Dark Knight
There Will be Blood
Leaving Las Vegas
Marley & Me
Quantum of Solace
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