Trailer: Kill The Messenger

It is telling that all of our ‘investigative journalism’ stories are now period pictures. Jeremy Renner here plays San Jose Mercury News reporter Gary Webb who uncovered the fact that the CIA was smuggling cocaine into the United States for the purposes of funding Central American Contra activities. (On a side note: This is also why former LA police detective Michael Ruppert turned down CIA appointments and became a full time investigative journalist and conspiracy researcher, and the subject of the 2009 film, Collapse. And while Ruppert is not in any way involved in this particular story, in real life, both Ruppert and Webb eventually committed suicide.)

Adapted from Webb’s 1999 book Dark Alliance and directed by Michael Cuesta (TV’s Homeland and Dexter) this looks very solid stuff, in a genre of film that isn’t made as often as I would like. The massive supporting cast is stacked to the gills with great actors: Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Paz Vega, Michael Sheen, Oliver Platt, Michael K. Williams, Ray Liotta, Andy Garcia, Tim Blake Nelson, Berry Pepper, Robert Patrick, and Rosemarie DeWitt.

Review: At Middleton

At Middleton

A College film for adults, At Middleton is about the complexities of post-graduate life. Though far too heavy handed to be a great film, its performances and sentimental script elevate it above simple mush. It’s sweet and touching, and altogether enjoyable.

Two parents are escorting their children to Middleton College for a campus tour. Edith Martin (Vera Farmiga) is the verbose and cautious mother of Audrey (Taissa Farmiga), a teen obsessed with language and glued to her phone. George Hartman (Andy Garcia) is the ironically named Cardiologist father of Conrad (Spencer Lofranco), a presumably aimless teen who never seems to appreciate George’s efforts. As their tour begins, Edith’s peculiar trepidation becomes palpable, both intriguing and annoying George. As her questions stray into the mortifyingly morose, Edith and George separate from the group to give their kids the embarrassment-free tour they’ve been aching for.

As Edith and George wander the campus, they gradually begin to relive their own College days. A tangible sense of nostalgia penetrates their experience of the campus, suggesting the missed opportunities and regrets that stem from hesitation and poor judgment.

At Middleton is stock schmaltz with sporadic injections of character and chemistry that elevate it above vapid feel-good status. It’s cute and quaint in spite of its propensity for heavy handedness. Would you like to know more…?

Top 10 Corrupt Movie Cops

Apparently our friends over in the criminal justice department are also big movie dorks as well. And what kind of movie would they like the best? The kind with corrupt officials of course! So I stumbled upon this list the other day about movie cops gone bad. Seems like an easy topic to list off, but there were several on here I almost forgot about. There are probably hundreds more, but here are ten good ones. Beware that there may be some *SPOILERS* in the text that follows. And I need to rewatch L.A. Confidential someday soon.

 
 

10. Dudley Smith, L.A. Confidential
You may want to think of James Cromwell as the sweet farmer who gave a pig a chance in Babe, but he shows another side of himself in L.A. Confidential. He basically controls the organized crime in L.A., blackmails city officials to get his way, and murders (or has someone else murder) everyone that gets in the way of his quest for drugs and power. It’s hard to even keep track of all the people he kills during the movie and before it even starts. This may have just been the unedited Babe sequel, Babe: Pig in the City.

 


 

9. Norman Stansfield, Leon the Professional
If you haven’t seen this film, you should if only to see a bad-ass 12-year-old Natalie Portman. She plays Mathilda, a girl whose whole family has been murdered by corrupt DEA agents headed up by Norman “Stan” Stansfield. Mathilda’s father had been keeping cocaine for the agents, but they found out he’d been keeping some for himself, and Stansfield, who’s addicted to drugs himself, decided to take out the whole family. Mathilda was out shopping when the murders happened, so now Stansfield wants to find her and kill her. She’s not totally helpless since she finds a father figure in the hitman down the hall, but it’s still not very nice of this officer to be trying to gun down a little girl.

Would you like to know more…?

Rewatched and Reconsidered: Ocean’s Twelve

Director: Steven Soderbergh (The Girlfriend Experience, Traffic, Che, Bubble, Full Frontal, Sex Lies and Videotape, The Informant!)
Writer: George Nolfi (Timeline, The Sentinel)
Producer: Jerry Weintraub
Starring: Clooney, Pitt, Cheadle, J. Roberts, Mac, Gould, Garcia, Damon, S. Caan, C. Affleck, Zeta-Jones
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running time: 125 min.

First viewing (2004):

Rewatch (2010):

Steven Soderbergh has been my absolute favorite living director for some time now. It seems that in my eyes, everything he touches shines like the contents of Marsellus Wallace’ briefcase. So it’s always been with some trepidation that I bring up the only title in his filmography that I’ve always regretted watching: the second in his “Ocean’s” franchise: Ocean’s 12. The last time I had seen the picture was when it was released theatrically back in 2004. I remember being quite upset as I left the theater; not really understanding what I’d just seen and being a little miffed at why it wasn’t nearly as good as the previous film. I’ve been bad mouthing the film ever since without ever giving it a second look. Having matured in my cinematic tastes and now better able to understand where and why the visceral reactions come from me the way they do from a film, I decided it was only fair to give the only dark spot in my Soderbergh repertoire of knowledge a second chance and see if my memory serves or if this was just a film I didn’t get at the time.

This sequel starts off just about where the previous left off. Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia) has located the Ocean gang and has given them two weeks to return all of the money they stole from him or they will die horrible, slow deaths by his hand. Since much of the money has been spent already and the crew is too hot to work in the States, to save their necks they head off to Europe to start a series of heists designed to make back the money they had already squandered. Upon arriving in Europe, they find that another thief, The Night Fox (Vincent Cassel), is always one step ahead of them; stealing what they want before they do. And to make matters even more intolerable and desperate, an American investigator (Zeta-Jones) is hot on their tale and unknowingly closer to them than she realizes as she is involved in a romance with the Brad Pitt character. The tale twists as The Night Fox proposes a challenge to the Ocean’s: snag an “impossible to steal” jeweled egg before he does and he’ll win their freedom from Benedict. And so the caper begins… sort of.

**SPOILERS TO FOLLOW**
Would you like to know more…?

Review: New York, I Love You

Directors: Natalie Portman, Jiang Wen, Mira Nair, Shunji Iwai, Yvan Attal, Brett Ratner, Allen Hughes, Sheekhar KapurFatih Akin, Joshua Marston, Randy Balsmeyer
Writers: Emmanuel Benbihy, Tristan Carné, Hall Powell, Israel Horovitz, James C. Strouse, Shunji Iwai, Israel Horovitz, Hu Hong, Yao Meng, Israel Horovitz, Scarlett Johansson, Joshua Marston, Alexandra Cassavetes, Stephen Winter, Jeff Nathanson,
Anthony Minghella, Natalie Portman
Producers: Marina Grasic, Emmanuel Benbihy
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Natalie Portman, Orlando Bloom, Rachel Bilson, Bradley Cooper, Maggie Q, Hayden Christensen, Christina Ricci, Andy Garcia, Ethan Hawke, Blake Lively, Anton Yelchin, Shu Qi, Carlos Acosta, James Cann, Justin Bartha, Eli Wallach, Cloris Leachm
MPAA Rating: R
Running time: 103 min.


Three years ago one of my favorite films of the year, Paris Je’ Taime was released to theaters and I was actually taken aback at how much I liked the piece. It was a series of vignettes, each directed by a famous director (from Gus Van Sant to the Coen Brothers to Wes Craven) with a whole slew of great, character actors and A-list stars. Each vignette was a cute little story examining a relationship somewhere within the great culture of Paris. Not necessarily lovers either. There were fathers and daughters, sisters, elderly couples and even a vampire tale amongst many others. Within months it was announced that a follow-up to the film would be coming soon that would take place in New York. So I’ve been waiting the better part of three years to see the sequel of sorts to one of my favorite films of 2007 with another set of great stories told by world class film makers and actors. And finally it is here in America showing to a fairly wide audience.

There had been some grumbling that New York, I Love You wasn’t quite the film its predecessor had been. Quite honestly I can’t fathom that notion as this film is at least the former’s equal; if not superior to the “original.” If you liked Paris Je’ Taime (or loved it as much as I did), there’s no reason to steer clear of this reimagining. It’s got the same amount of heart and inspiration and should capture your heart just as quickly and steadfast as the stories did threeyears ago.
Would you like to know more…?

Is it a trailer? A Promo-reel? Well, it’s La Linea.

Thanks for the Quiet Earth boys for spotting this one and passing it along. Here we have a B-ish gangster film called La Linea (The Line). The video below is too long to be a trailer, and a tad spoiler-ish, so I am guessing it is a promo reel that has found its way onto one of the many video streaming services out there.

A crime drama loosely based on the infamous Arellano Felix drug cartel. Veteran ham-ster Ray Liotta plays a Los Angeles based assassin who is hired to kill him. He hooks up with a meth addict living in Tijuana who is struggling to kick the habit for the sake of her daughter. And there is Danny Trejo doing what he does best. (That would be making people dance to bullets.) And Andy Garcia stops by to give a drug-lord speech or two.

While the pacing and what not are not quite electric, this is solid D2DVD gangster material, it still makes pretty good use of the Babel score. I am going to go out on a limb here (or not) and say that this is likely a better movie than Righteous Kill, but then that probably is not saying much. Machete cannot come soon enough, folks.


La Linea