Police/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/111minutes
Starring: Josh Hartnett, Harrison Ford
Director: Ron Shelton
Hollywood Homicide opens with four dead rappers in a club and the cops
kicking off their investigation. In terms of plot what follows is pretty
much standard cops-investigate-dead-celebs stuff with the unexciting twist
that the cops themselves are being investigated for some dubious off-duty
business dealings. So far so dull. What makes this film ultimately watchable
is the cops, played by Harrison Ford and Josh Hartnett. The characterisation
is off-beat and the dialogue unrelentingly engaging and humorous as the
pair obsessively ramble on about their other jobs, from which police work
is an unwelcome distraction.
Drama/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/103 mins
Starring: Samantha Morton, Paddy Considine, Djimon Hounsou
In America follows newly arrived immigrants in New York in the 1980s.
The principle characters are from Ireland and Nigeria. The film is not
just about the problems of adapting to a new society, it is about the
difficulty of just being, of living up to your own expectations and the
demands of family. It is very much about becoming a merely competent
human being. The writing and is of an unusually high standard and is
almost literary in its quiet artfulness. No big names in this movie,
just excellent, carefully nuanced performances.
Action-Thriller/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/115 minutes
Starring: Colin Farrell, Al Pacino, Bridget Moynahan
Director: Ronald Donaldson
Colin Farrell is unlikely spy material. He is a casually
talented computer nerd who is in no rush to do anything with his life.
However, CIA bigwig Al Pacino knows talent and draws Farrell into the
Agency. Farrell for all his laid-back way is damaged goods: his own father
was Agency and died in the line of duty when Farrell was but a nipper.
Going along with Pacino is his way of connecting with his long lost dad
but he connects with a whole lot more when they go after a mole. Twisting
plot and good acting.
Once Upon a Time in Mexico
Action/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/103 minutes
Starring: Julio Bandero, Johnny Depp, Salma Hayek
Director: Robert Rodriguez
Once Upon a Time in Mexico is the third
instalment of Robert Rodriguez’ El
Mariachi series. Julio Banderas is El Mariachi, a guitar-wielding, singing
action hero who is drawn out of self-imposed hermitage by the CIA to
go after a noisome revolutionary/drug lord bad guy. Of course, El Guitar
Hero is in recluse mode in the first place because someone murdered his
family, and of course the target of the mission is the very same murderer.
Quirky, offbeat action movie with some great ideas and great acting — watch
out for louche, show-stealing Johnny Depp as the CIA man.
Sport-drama/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/140 minutes
Starring: Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper
Director: Gary Ross
Seabiscuit is a true story of a pint-sized
racehorse that captured the imagination of the 1930s American public
when it became a symbol of depression-hit
America struggling back to its feet. Jeff Bridges, Tobey Maguire and
Chris Cooper find faith in the lazy underachiever and encourage him to
greatness in this tale of nag to riches. The story starts too slowly
but the otherwise adept storytelling, thrilling race scenes where the
camera gets right among the racers, and the film’s humanity and
honesty make it a winner.
Crime/US/English (Japanese subtitles)/137 minutes
Starring: Kevin Bacon, Sean Penn, Tim Robbins
Director: Clint Eastwood
Such is the association with Dirty Harry, it is easy to forget that Clint
Eastwood as director makes good films. Mystic River is crafted, monolithic,
and austere and seems to hark back to a past, nobler age of film making.
Three childhood friends separated by an awful crime committed against
one of them are brought back together as adults by another crime. The
friends are played by Tim Robbins, Sean Penn and Kevin Bacon and their
inspired performances with the superior screenplay and expert direction
raise this film way above a conventional police whodunnit to something
intense and psychological.
Art/UK/English (Japanese subtitles)/93 minutes
Starring: Nathaniel Parker, Tilda Swinton, Laurence Olivier
Director: Derek Jarman
This is a re-release of Derek Jarman’s powerful 1989 rendering
of Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem in images. It is experimental
and frankly a little difficult at times. It is by turns horrifying, beautiful
and ultimately moving. Laurence Olivier in his last screen appearance
is an old soldier whose memories of war are told through the poems of
war poet Wilfred Owen, and which are incorporated into the Requiem.Through
exploring the experiences of ordinary soldiers in poetry, image and music,
the film becomes both an extraordinarily articulate statement against
war and a major work of art.
My Life Without Me
Drama/Canada/English (Japanese subtitles)/106 minutes
Starring: Sarah Polley, Scott Speedman, Mark Ruffalo
Director: Isabel Coixet
Ann married at 17 a super, handsome, smiley guy who she
loves very much, had two lovely kids, and now at the age of 23 finds
she is dying of inoperable ovarian cancer. She decides not to tell anyone
and sets about leaving her world in better order than it is now. She
also decides to have sex with another man because her husband is the
only man she has … you know. Confusingly, she falls in love with
this other guy — oops! Good acting and direction, but the viewer
might feel a little queasy about the affair.
Reviews by Chris Page