Nothing Is Invisible

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Posts Tagged ‘The Right Stuff’

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.

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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

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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Black Swan

Posted by the editors on Friday, 13 May 2011

The poster for the film shows Natalie Portman with white facial makeup, black-winged eye liner around bloodshot red eyes, and a jagged crystal tiara.

Black Swan theatrical release poster

Black Swan (2010) Directed by Darren Aronofsky (Requiem for a Dream (2000), The Wrestler (2008)); starring Natalie Portman (Mars Attacks! (1996), Star Wars, Episodes I-III (1999-2005), Mr. Magorium’s Wonder Emporium (2007)), Vincent Cassel (Elizabeth (1998), Ice Age (2002) (voice only; French language version), Adrift (À Deriva) (2009)), Mila Kunis (Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves (1997), American Psycho 2 (2002), Max Payne (2008)), Barbara Hershey (Boxcar Bertha (1972), The Right Stuff (1983), Last of the Dogmen (1995)), and others.  A psychological thriller, as most have seemingly called it, Black Swan, from the trendily titillating lesbian affair (imagined or otherwise), to the heavy-handed pseudo-psychology, the boringly clichéd dialogue, to the monodimensional acting, the incoherent visual cinematics, to the lack of meaningful narrative, or other, evolution, can’t help but leave one surprised at the uncommon poverty of critical intellectual perception, wondering whose rose-tinted glasses were shared around, and one can only be dismayed by the apparent lack of “crowd-sourced” clarity.  Nonetheless, it seems that Aronofsky, Portman and Cassel haven’t hesitated to compare the film to any of a variety of Roman Polanski‘s films (including Repulsion (1965) for Aronofsky, and Rosemary’s Baby (1968) for Portman).  Even so, apart from the fact that Portman looks every day as old as her 28 (or 29) years (if not, let’s say, five years older) and as such seems a poor choice for the role of the young ballerina making it big, a quick comparison to previous “Best Actresses” is even more disheartening.  Natalie Portman?  Really? (PR)

See our post on the film The Other Boleyn Girl, starring Natalie Portman.

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

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