Sunday, January 27, 2008


Boy, I've gotten behind. I'll get caught up, bear with me.

(I'm such a slacker)

Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Review: Atonement

Stranded in Des Moines before Christmas, I decided to head down to the Fleur Cinemas to pass time that evening. Atonement, which had received great reviews, was one of the only films showing that I hadn't already seen at the film festival in September, making it an easy choice. Joe Wright directed this film, and chose Keira Knightley once again as his leading lady, having previously cast her in Pride & Prejudice.

The movie is based on the highly reviewed book by Ian Mcewan. Set in pre-World War II England, it follows the romance of Cecilia Tallis (Knightly) and Robbie Turner, portrayed by James McAvoy. They are observed at key moments by Celcelia's younger sister Briony, a budding playwright, who is missing key pieces of information. Her youth leads her to get carried away with her conclusions and she acts on them fervently.

Bad things happen. Then worse things happen. Then Briony makes an attempt at achieving the title of the film. It may not be enough, but she does what she can, considering the circumstances.

I liked the film for its use of perspective and how one can make the wrong conclusions without having all the information. Some friends of mine found the ending on the schmaltzy side, and perhaps it was, but it didn't stop my enjoyment of the film. Perhaps my senses are still dulled 10 years after seeing Titanic. My imdb rating: 8/10.

Review: National Treasure: Book of Secrets

We saw another movie on vacation and decided on the new release National Treasure: Book of Secrets based solely on the likelihood that it would be easy to consume a large bag of popcorn during such a film. A sequel to the original and very likely the middle of a trilogy (be prepared to witness an obvious setup), it again stars former cool independent actor Nicolas Cage with Jon Turteltaub in the director's chair. Nick has settled into a familiar pattern of high payday, low risk film roles that have dominated his career for over a decade.

This episode picks up from the last one with sidekick Riley Poole, played by Justin Bartha, peddling books at Borders. I'm curious how much they paid for that in-movie commercial. Anyway, his character seems to have the purpose of beefing up the comedic content of the film, but most of his one-liners seem to miss. I don't know if I blame Justin, but the script is just a little flat.

The movie carries on pretty much like you'd expect, leading up to Ben Gates kidnapping the president of the United States. That would be a spoiler if it was so highly publicized in the trailer. The president is a make-believe president by the way -- likable, intelligent, suave, and an air of integrity.

The movie is fun for what it is, but generally wastes the talents of the aforementioned Mr. Cage, Jon Voight, Helen Mirren, Ed Harris, and Harvey Keitel. It's not that anyone is bad, but there just isn't a meaty role to be devoured in the script. My imdb rating: 6/10.