Posts Tagged ‘transsiberian

06
Jan
09

Ten Faves from ’08

I don’t know about you, but I was disappointed.

 

If the question is, “What did I expect from the films of 2008?” my answer would be, “A better film year than 2007.” Not to say that 2007 was bad; the tail-end of it made up for most of that year. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of 2008.

 

“Indiana Jones 4” (aka “Indy Gets an X-File”) was ludicrous if not insulting. And speaking of “X-Files” the return of Mulder and Scully to the screen was warranted, but the story wasn’t. “Speed Racer” could’ve been more fun, “Prince Caspian” could’ve used more characterization and plot. “Untraceable” was among those movies that couldn’t have been saved, period.

 

However, it wasn’t all bad. “Iron Man” and “The Dark Knight” proved that superheroes can rule the day, if not the box office (although “Hellboy 2” was underrated). Pixar pixel pixies made mechanics emotional with “Wall*E.” Robert Downey, Jr. didn’t just make “Iron Man,” he made “Tropic Thunder” as Kirk Lazarus, an Australian method-actor who undergoes pigmentation-surgery to portray a black Sergeant in Vietnam. And “City of Ember” was the best and most-overlooked kids’ movie.

 

In alphabetical order, here are my Ten Faves from ’08.

 

bank_job1“The Bank Job” – I caught this one on DVD. After I finished watching it, I kicked myself. This movie was interesting, fun, and a great throwback to the Seventies.

 

 

 

 

city_of_ember“City of Ember” – Thoughtful, well-made post-apocalyptic kids’ movie. I was surprised.

 

 

 

 

 

dark_knight“The Dark Knight” – This movie is entirely on a different plain of filmmaking. Kudos to Christopher Nolan on doing such a great job and to Heath Ledger, who gave one of his best performances ever (and his last).

 

 

 

 

hellboy_two“Hellboy 2: The Golden Army” – Fun fantasy film from Guillermo del Toro. I really enjoyed this one. “Hellboy” is beginning to grow on me.

 

 

 

 

iron_man“Iron Man” – A great popcorn blockbuster movie to begin the summer with. Robert Downey Jr. was nothing less than perfectly casted. Jeff Bridges had fun being the bad guy.

 

 

 

 

leatherheads“Leatherheads” – Another overlooked movie. George Clooney spent years trying to bring this one to light. It’s funny, quirky, zany, screwball… and made football interesting.

 

 

 

 

son_of_rambow“Son of Rambow” – British indie about kids who learn to make film, not war. Great fun and a tribute to filmmaking (moreso than “Zack and Miri”).

 

 

 

 

transsiberian“Transsiberian” – Emily Mortimer steals this movie from Woody Harrelson and Ben Kingsley. A great follow-up to “Session 9” and “The Machinist,” also directed by Brad Anderson.

 

 

 

 

tropic_thunder“Tropic Thunder” – I initially thought this was shallow at first, but repeated viewings on DVD make this one even better.”I’m the dude playin’ the dude, disguised as another dude!”

 

 

 

 

wall_e“Wall*E” – Wall*E is the story of the little robot that fell in love. Environmental and biological themes abound but don’t get too preachy.

 

 

 

 

 

 

That’s all, folks. See ya at the movies in 2009!

-Chas

12
Sep
08

Movie Review: Transsiberian

 

 

One solid ride from Beijing to Moscow.

 

Starring Woody Harrelson, Emily Mortimer, Eduardo Noriega, Ben Kingsley, and Kate Mara. Directed by Brad Anderson

 

Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer are Roy and Jessie, two Americans in Beijing who are helping disadvantaged kids in China through Roy’s church. Roy is affable, happy-go-lucky, and dopey; he’s a manager of a hardware store who loves trains, which leads them to taking the Transsiberia Express. Jessie we find out wandered into Roy’s life via a DUI accident and spends her time perfecting amateur photography. Both love each other, but are having their problems.

 

Enter Carlos and Abby (Noriega and Mara), two drifters who stay in the same cabin as Roy and Jessie. Carlos says that Abby is a teacher in Korea, but little else of what she or he does. As the film progresses each of the characters aren’t quite what they seem and try figuring the others out. Abby is just a drifter, Carlos is a drug mule, Jessie is dealing with her inner demons, and Roy is oblivious to the seedy side of people.

 

What follows is Jessie and Roy becoming separated, with Carlos and Abby staying with her. After an altercation with Carlos, Jessie finally reunites with Roy and is introduced to Grinko (Kingsley), a Russian Narcotics Detective who knows more about Carlos and Abby than he lets on. With the altercation becoming the main Plot Point the film hinges on, lies beget more lies and Roy and Jessie are soon on the run for their lives.

 

The incredible thing about this film is that it hangs on the acting of Emily Mortimer; I have no clue as to how close her real life may have been to the source material, but I never stopped believing her character. Woody Harrelson was subdued, Kingsley did a good job, and I haven’t seen Noriega in anything since “Open Your Eyes.”

 

If you, dear reader, detect even an ounce of ambiguity to the description, it’s because there’s so much about this film that I can’t/won’t tell you because it would destroy going to see this film. Brad Anderson is my one of my favorite psychological thriller directors (next to Christopher Nolan) and with films such as “Session 9” and “The Machinist” under his belt, this is in the same ballpark. Other critics have denounced the beginning as being slow but hey, not all movies have to “hit the ground running.” Plus the buildup in the movie is incredible. And the ending, while happy, still left my nerves unsettled for the rest of the night.

 

One fun thriller with “Strangers on a Train,” and “Rope” influence thrown in. Hitchcock would be proud.

 

My grade: A