Monday, November 29, 2010

L'Immortale (22 Bullets)

Director: Richard Berry
Starring: Jean Reno (Léon and Ronin) , Marina Foïs

Loosely based on Franz-Olivier Giesbert’s novel, L’Immortel the movie tells the tale of Charly Matteï, (Jean Reno) a reformed gangland enforcer who is plugged 22 times (hence the English title) in the first scene by masked gunman. Against the odds Matteï, lives to tell the tale (L’immortale), and with the help of cop (Marina Foïs) and hindrance from his former gangster associates seeks revenge on his inept assassins. Despite a dramatic opening the first part of Richard Berry’s movie is slow moving and what begins as a serious and gritty gangster/cop thriller, it swiftly and uncomfortably changes tempo half way through, to become an over complicated comic book action movie. Not a patch on Taken, but a Jean Reno movie is always worth the watch. Reasonable performances all round with some dodgy special effects but a great score from Klaus Badelt.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Agora

Director: Alejandro Amenábar
Starring: Rachel Weisz, Max Minghella, Oscar Isaac, Ashraf Barhom, Michael Lonsdale, Sammy Samir

Set in the Roman Egyptian city Alexandria in 391 AD. Agora tells the cautionary tale of Hypatia (Rachel Weisz), brilliant mathematician, philosopher and astronomer who is the head mistress of the Alexandria Academy. Schooled in neoplatonic enquiry she is on a quest to unravel the mysteries of celestial movements. This makes her almost oblivious to all things material, including being wooed. As the years pass and her students and slave become more influential in a changing society, she fails to realize she has now become a heretic. The movie is a parable about religious intolerance and in particular the intolerance of militant Christianity. Despite the ingredients, which are all there, it is not a very gripping film. Which is a great pity.

Monday, November 1, 2010

The American

Director: Anton Corbijn

Starring: George Clooney, Thekla Reuten, Violante Placido, Irina Björklund, and Paolo Bonacelli

Don’t be fooled has George Clooney in the starring role but this is a rather somber arthouse, spy thriller. Ageing elite hit man Jack/Edward (George Clooney) is a man of few words gradually losing his edge. Once an efficient killing machine he is aware things are not what they seem. After an assignment in Sweden goes horribly wrong Jack wants out. One last job beckons. Hiding out in Castelvecchio, a small Italian town, he starts a romantic relationship with a prostitute, Clara (Violante Placido) but his enemies are closing in. Jack is ruthless but Clooney gradually endears the character to the audience despite what he does. This is a clever against–type casting which was most famously done by Sergio Leone, when he cast Henry Fonda as a villain in Once Upon a Time in the West. It almost comes off in The American. Finally the sobriety of this film is used to highlight the moments of suspense. Worth a watch.