Nothing Is Invisible

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Posts Tagged ‘Into the Wild’

A History of Violence – Directed by David Cronenberg, starring Viggo Mortensen

Posted by the editors on Sunday, 15 January 2012

A History of Violence (2005)  Directed by David Cronenberg (M. Butterfly (1993), Spider (2002), A Dangerous Method (2011)), starring Viggo Mortensen (Eastern Promises (2007), The Road (2009), A Dangerous Method (2011)), Ed Harris (Pollock (2000), The Hours (2002), Gone Baby Gone (2007)), Maria Bello (Assault on Precinct 13 (2005), The Jane Austen Book Club (2007)), with William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), Syriana (2005), Into the Wild (2007)).  Though the highly effective plot is that of a successful, taut thriller, A History of Violence is, even more, a study of character and especially the often hidden, or undiscovered, capacity for violence, present, to one degree or another, in one form or another, in all the significant characters in the film, and, perhaps, in ourselves as well.  From Tom/Joey with his secret mob past, to his son Jack, and his discovery of his own violent capacities, to the capacity for violent carnal passion discovered by Tom/Joey and his wife Edie, A History of Violence takes a consummate look at not only the potential for violence, but also, perhaps, its necessity in the fight for survival on any number of levels.  Viggo Mortensen is very, very good in his portrayal of both the small town, humble family man Tom and the secret, ominously effective killer Tony; Maria Bello is perfect as the small town wife and mother, and as the sharp-eyed lawyer; Ed Harris is perfect, as well, as a cold, hard, disfigured mobster out for vengence, and William Hurt is superlative as a viciously twisted, violent mob underboss.  With a screenplay written by Josh Olson, based loosely on the graphic novel of the same name by John Wagner and Vince Locke, A History of Violence, is anything but simple; a subtly complex, thoroughly Cronenbergian, and very effective thriller, it is certainly a must-see film. (PR)

See our posts on the film Spider directed by David Cronenberg, the films The Indian Runner and Good starring Viggo Mortensen, and the films Sunshine, The Good Shepherd, Vantage Point and Syriana with William Hurt.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray Disks.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com (Amazon Instant Video, DVDs and Blu-ray Disks, in that order, when available):

A History of Violence (New Line Platinum Series)

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The Indian Runner – Directed by Sean Penn, starring Viggo Mortensen & David Morse

Posted by the editors on Tuesday, 3 January 2012

The Indian Runner (1991)  Written and directed by Sean Penn (Dead Man Walking (1995), Sweet and Lowdown (1999), I Am Sam (2001), Mystic River (2003), Milk (2008), and, as director The Pledge (2001), Into the Wild (2007)), starring Viggo Mortensen (A History of Violence (2005), Good, (2008), The Road (2009)), and David Morse (The Crossing Guard (1995), The Hurt Locker (2009)), with Valeria Golino, Patricia Arquette, Charles Bronson, Dennis Hopper, Benicio del Toro and Sandy Dennis.   Based on the Bruce Springsteen song, Highway Patrolman, The Indian Runner, a drama of family, brothers and their two different ways of being in the world, is Sean Penn’s first film as a director, and though not perfect, it is a moving, successful first effort.  David Morse  is very good as Joe, the older brother, solid, kind, sadly yearning for days gone by, his childhood and the family farm lost in foreclosure, and Viggo Mortensen, as Frankie, a Vietnam veteran, and in trouble all his life, a psychologically troubled bad-boy, capable of explosions of violence, and equally menacing calm, a sort of  lost outlaw, is honestly excellent.  The rest of the impressive cast, quite a feat for a relatively low-budget first film and a testimony to the seriously talented Penn, is, if somewhat unexpected, also very good: an exceptional and subtle Charles Bronson and Sandy Dennis in her last cinema appearance, are Joe and Frankie’s parents, dazed and adrift, sad and beaten by life; Dennis Hopper, as a trashy, edgy bar-tender is spot on; Benicio del Toro is great in a very brief cameo as a charming, funny, even silly Mexican who supplies Joe’s wife, played by an amusing and energetic Valeria Golino, with marijuana; and Patricia Arquette, as Frankie’s love interest, is annoyingly, sadly, childlike with her pale skin and short blond hair, and an ideal foil to Mortensen’s dark and menacing Frankie.  The Indian Runner is a thoughtful, atypical film, with complex characters, a fascinating examination of two very different, but loving, brothers, and despite a few weaker moments, the very fine acting, inspired writing and directing, and any number of very strong scenes make it a film to be viewed, and viewed again. (PR)

See our posts on the film Good, starring Viggo Mortensen and the films The Pledge, directed by Sean Penn, starring Jack Nicholson, The Game, starring Michael Douglas and Sean Pen and What Just Happened, starring Robert De Niro, with Sean Penn and Bruce Willis, and the film Traffic starring Benicio del Toro.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray Disks.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com (Amazon Instant Video, DVDs, and Blu-ray Disks, in that order, where available):

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Babel – Starring Brad Pitt & Cate Blanchett, directed by Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

Posted by the editors on Monday, 2 January 2012

Babel (2006)  Directed by Alejandro González Inarritu ( Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Biutiful (2010)), starring Brad Pitt (12 Monkeys (1995), Burn After Reading (2008), Moneyball (2011)), Cate Blanchett (Elizabeth (1998), The Aviator (2004), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)), Gael García BernalKoji Yakusho, in an outstanding ensemble cast, written by Guillermo Arriaga (Amores perros (2000), 21 Grams (2004), The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada (2005), The Burning Plain (2009)), with Academy Award-winning music by Gustavo Santaolalla (Brokeback Mountain (2005), Into the Wild (2007), Biutiful (2010)).  This drama, in which a tragic event links multiple interwoven story lines, two in Morocco, one in Japan, and one in California and Mexico, is the poignant story of north, south, east, west, parents, children, love, loss, anguish, trust, hope and tragedy. As befits its title, Babel is about language, of course, and its diversity; among the languages present in the film are English, Spanish, Japanese, Berber and sign language, and the diverse cultural and environmental contexts are wonderfully present through richly visual characterisations, from the vast, natural rugged terrain of Morocco to the dense, man-made mass of urban Japan, and through powerful and evocative sound and music.   The biblical story of Babel is, in a nutshell, that as punishment for trying to build a tower that would reach heaven, the human race was scattered over the face of the earth, dispersed, divided and unable to communicate.  And, in the film, communication is indeed very difficult, not only across languages and cultures but within them, between individuals.  However, through the powerful and sensitive use of close-ups, the exquisite writing and the purity of the acting on the part of virtually the entire cast, it is very much the case that, beyond words, or perhaps beneath them, human emotion is very much something we all share, we can all understand.  Children are extremely important in the film, from a lost child, to the two young Moroccan brothers, to the two young Americans brought to Mexico, to the distraught teenage Japanese girl so powerfully portrayed by Rinko Kikuchi; Inarritu has dedicated the film “To my children…the brightest of lights in the darkest night..”  Babel is not an easy film; it is filled with tragedy and near-tragedy, yet through its inspired writing, outstanding directing, humble and beautiful acting, it is a truly excellent film, contemporary and yet perhaps timeless, and most definitely a must-see.  And if you’ve already seen it, see it again, it is only that much richer an experience. (PR)

See our posts on the films Inglourious Basterds, starring Brad Pitt and The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada, written by Guillermo Arriaga and directed by and starring Tommy Lee Jones.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray Disks.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com (Amazon Instant Video, DVDs, and Blu-ray Disks, in that order, where available):

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Vantage Point – Starring Dennis Quaid, Matthew Fox & Forest Whitaker

Posted by the editors on Saturday, 3 December 2011

Vantage Point (2008)(DVD)   Directed by Pete Travis, starring Dennis Quaid (The Right Stuff (1983), The Big Easy (1987), Far from Heaven (2002))Matthew Fox (Lost (2004-2010, Television series)Forest Whitaker (Bird (1988), Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999), The Last King of Scotland (2006))Sigourney Weaver (the four Alien films (1979-1997), Avatar (2009))William Hurt (Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985), A History of Violence (2005), Syriana (2005), Into the Wild (2007)) and others.  In this relentlessly fast-paced political action thriller, with Quaid and Fox as U.S. Secret Service agents, and William Hurt as the U.S. President and replete with terrorists, bombings, assassinations, kidnappings, spies and a  truly breathless car chase through the narrow streets of Salamanca, Spain*, one is treated to multiple points of view on the same dreadful event.  Through rewinds, changes of perspective and rapid cutting the nature of the event and its participants are exposed and the idea of a single truth revealed.  Many reviewers have spoken of the Rashomon effect, the idea of examining the same event from multiple points of view, used in exemplary fashion in Akira Kurasawa‘s iconic film Rashomon and comparing the use of this technique in Vantage Point rather unfavorably. It should be said, however, that Kurasawa’s premise was that there is no single truth to be found, whereas in Vantage Point, the idea of illuminating a single, clear truth is the entire idea.  Once one accepts this rather reductionist point of view, and accepts that the film is not about intellectually challenging one’s post-modern sense of the world, one can sit back and enjoy its efforts to keep things moving at an entertainingly frenetic pace.  The acting is workable, the dialogue perhaps a bit wanting, and some of the devices admittedly a bit routine, not to mention the questionable and simplistic politics; nevertheless, a bit of breathless, stressful action, with not unreasonable special effects, is at times, just the ticket. (PR) (*: actually shot in Mexico)

See our post on the film Syriana, starring George Clooney and Matt Damon, with William Hurt.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray Disks.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com:

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The Pledge – Directed by Sean Penn, Starring Jack Nicholson

Posted by the editors on Thursday, 1 December 2011

The Pledge (2001)(DVD)  Directed by Sean Penn, starring Jack Nicholson, with Robin Wright Penn, Benicio del Toro, Mickey RourkeSam ShepardPatricia ClarksonVanessa RedgraveHelen Mirren, Harry Dean StantonAaron Eckhart and others.  The Pledge, on the surface a good crime drama, is, in fact, an excellent portrayal of one man’s descent into obsession and marginalization.  That man, Jerry Black, is played by a superb Jack Nicholson, full of finesse, and few of his iconic grimaces and is captivating.  The cast, clearly, is a who’s who of wonderful, accomplished actors, and Sean Penn’s directing is strong, evocative, and inspired.  Benicio del Toro, though almost unrecognizable, as a retarded Native American, is magnificent, as are, in small, but pivotal roles, Mickey Rourke, Sam Shepard, Patricia Clarkson, Vanessa Redgrave, and Helen Mirren.  Robin Wright Penn as a down-and-out, single-mother, rural barmaid is exceptionally good.  The Pledge is not an easy film, it must be admitted, with its focus on serial child murder, and a number of gruesome scenes.  Nevertheless, it is an excellent, atypical, powerful and engrossing film and, honestly, a must-see. (PR) (See below for filmographies)

See our posts on As Good As It Gets, with Jack Nicholson, What Just Happened, with Sean Penn and Robin Wright Penn,  State of Play, with Robin Wright Penn and Helen Mirren, Whatever Works, with Patricia Clarkson, The Game, with Sean Penn and Straight Time, with Harry Dean Stanton.

We recommend that you buy your DVDs and Blu-ray Disks.  Have a great personal film library..  Here are links to amazon.com:

Filmographies (partial):

Sean Penn: As director: The Indian Runner (1991), The Crossing Guard (1995), Into the Wild (2007); as actorI Am Sam (2001), Mystic River (2003), 21 Grams (2003), Milk (2008).

Jack Nicholson: One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1975), Prizzi’s Honor (1985), A Few Good Men (1992), As Good as It Gets (1997), The Bucket List (2007), and many other excellent films.

Robin Wright Penn: Forrest Gump (1994), A Home at the End of the World (2004), What Just Happened (2008), The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011, in post production)

Benicio del ToroThe Usual Suspects (1995), Traffic (2000), Snatch (2000), 21 Grams (2003), Che (2008)

Mickey Rourke9½ Weeks (1986), Buffalo ’66 (1998), Sin City (2005), The Wrestler (2008)

Sam ShepardThe Right Stuff (1983), The Pelican Brief (1993), Don’t Come Knocking (2005), The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007)

Patricia ClarksonPieces of April (2003), Good Night, and Good Luck. (2005), Whatever Works (2009), Shutter Island (2010)

Vanessa RedgraveIsadora (1968), Julia (1977), Howards End (1992), Atonement (2007)

Helen MirrenThe Mosquito Coast (1986), Gosford Park (2001), State of Play (2009)

Harry Dean StantonStraight Time (1978), Paris, Texas (1984), Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas (1998), Inland Empire (2006)

Aaron EckhartErin Brockovich (2000), The Black Dahlia (2006), The Dark Knight (2008)

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