Full Metal Jacket is a surprisingly unfocused war effort from director Stanley Kubrick that virtually falls off the map after its brilliant opening act. The story is basically divided into two halves; if you can even call the second half a story. It’s a shame that Kubrick didn’t try to drag out the first half longer because that is truly filmmaking at its finest. To see the director in such an undisciplined light is very surprising.
Jane Campion's latest period piece follows the last three years of John Keats' life. It is a beautiful looking film with fine performances that are sure to be remembered come Oscar time, but there is a distance to the movie that prevents it from being as powerful as it should have been. Campion chooses to take a step back while directing this film and let the story play out naturally, but there is one problem with that: There really isn't much of a story.
2. George Clooney, Up in the Air
3. Daniel Day-Lewis, Nine
5. Matt Damon, The Informant!
6. Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker
7. Viggo Mortensen, The Road
8. Colin Firth, A Single Man
9. Robert De Niro, Everybody's Fine
10. Sam Rockwell, Moon
Best Actor in a Supporting Role:
1. Christoph Waltz, Inglourious Basterds
2. Alfred Molina, An Education
3. Matt Damon, Invictus
5. Paul Schneider, Bright Star
6. Anthony Mackie, The Hurt Locker
8. Tobey Maguire, Brothers
9. Richard Kind, A Serious Man
Best Actress in a Leading Role:
1. Carey Mulligan, An Education
2. Gabourey Sidibe, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
3. Meryl Streep, Julie & Julia
4. Hilary Swank, Amelia
5. Abbie Cornish, Bright Star
6. Penélope Cruz, Broken Embraces
7. Michelle Monaghan, Trucker
8. Saoirse Ronan, The Lovely Bones
9. Charlotte Gainsbourg, Antichrist
10. Natalie Portman, Brothers
Best Actress in a Supporting Role:
1. Mo'Nique, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
2. Marion Cotillard, Nine
3. Judi Dench, Nine
4. Anna Kendrick, Up in the Air
5. Penélope Cruz, Nine
6. Rachel Weisz, The Lovely Bones
7. Mariah Carey, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
8. Marion Cotillard, Public Enemies
9. Vera Farmiga, Up in the Air
1. Lee Daniels, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
2. Clint Eastwood, Invictus
3. James Cameron, Avatar
4. Jason Reitman, Up in the Air
5. Kathryn Bigelow, The Hurt Locker
6. Rob Marshall, Nine
7. Jane Campion, Bright Star
8. Peter Jackson, The Lovely Bones
9. Lone Scherfig, An Education
10. Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, A Serious Man
Best Adapted Screenplay:
1. Damien Paul, Precious: Based on the Novel 'Push' by Sapphire
2. Jason Reitman & Sheldon Turner, Up in the Air
3. Anthony Peckham, Invictus
4. Nick Hornby, An Education
5. Anthony Minghella & Michael Tolkin, Nine
6. Ronald Bass, Amelia
7. Scott Z. Burns, The Informant!
8. Joe Penhall, The Road
9. Philippa Boyens, Peter Jackson, & Fran Walsh, The Lovely Bones
10. Nora Ephron, Julie & Julia
Best Original Screenplay:
1. Mark Boal, The Hurt Locker
2. Ethan Coen & Joel Coen, A Serious Man
3. Bob Peterson, Up
4. Scott Neustadter & Michael H. Weber, 500 Days of Summer
5. Jane Campion, Bright Star
6. Quentin Tarantino, Inglourious Basterds
7. James Cameron, Avatar
8. Pedro Almodóvar, Broken Embraces
9. Neill Blomkamp, Terri Tetchell, District 9
10. Judd Apatow, Funny People
The Hangover is a film that, since its release back in June, has become the highest grossing R-rated comedy of all-time. It's not an overwhelmingly powerful statistic, but it does show how desperate audiences across the country (and the world) were for raunchy, mindless Friday night comedy. And that's exactly what The Hangover is.
Steven Soderbergh's latest film The Informant! is one of those rare movies that successfully mixes several different genres. There are moments of comedy, suspense, and drama as Soderbergh prefers to make irony and deadpan comedy out of his subject matter rather than all-out dramatize it. I also found myself enjoying the film more and more as it went along. The first twenty minutes felt a little bland and, at the beginning, I didn't quite understand the frequent Matt Damon voice-over. But, as we learn more and more about Damon's complex character, we start to understand all of the pieces that are presented to us, and this becomes a truly enjoyable film.
Mark Whitacre, brought to life by Damon's terrific performance, is a promising young executive working at the corrupt company Archer Daniels Midland (ADM) located in Decatur, IL. At the beginning of the film, a virus has infiltrated ADM causing them to lose millions of dollars each month. Whitacre then comes to the realization that there is a mole inside the company secretly working for a foreign competitor.
As a result, the FBI decide to plant a wire in Whitacre's phone lines to try and find out who this mole is. The bureau dispatches agent Brian Shepard (Scott Bakula) to Whitacre's home to plant the bug. At his wife's suggestion, Mark then confesses the true fraud of his company. He explains that several ADM executives, including himself, have been holding meetings with various competitors for the sole purpose of fixing the price of lysine. This is not something Mark is proud of, but it is very tough for him to admit because he knows the risks of sacrificing his future at the company.
After this revelation, our informant is born. Agent Shepard, along with agent Robert Herndon (Joel McHale), convince Whitacre to wear a wire and become an undercover agent for the FBI. Mark's life is changed forever as he is forced to live a double-life, never knowing to who he can or cannot tell the truth. By the end of the movie, Whitacre ends up with over two hundred tapes, and he is eager to prosecute his bosses and become the CEO of ADM.
Matt Damon puts himself on the short list for an Oscar nomination with his performance. He does such a terrific job of humanizing the main character, while also staying funny enough to be consistent with Soderbergh's tone. This is easier said than done as Whitacre is one of the more complex characters to be seen so far this year. By the end of the film, it is tough to decide whether we should feel sorry for him or whether he deserved what he got.
Whitacre's wife in the film is played by Melanie Lynskey, who many might recognize as Rose from CBS's Two and a Half Men. She does a fine job in her light role as a wife who might believe in her husband a little bit too much. The score by Marvin Hamlisch is sure to turn off many, but it certainly feels right for the movie.
I found myself very surprised at how much I liked this film by the time it was over. It is a movie that becomes stronger as it goes along, and that is really an admirable quality. It makes the experience very rewarding because with every new thing we learn about our main character, we are forced to re-evaluate our feelings for him and decide whether or not he truly deserves the sympathy he has gained from us.
Ever since I first saw The Dark Knight back in July 2008, there has been one question I've had about the film that has stuck in my mind: Would it have been a different film if it was rated R?
It is obviously a blockbuster film, and I'm sure Warner Bros. wanted a PG-13 film all the way. However, that being said, Nolan had to have had some restrictions while writing and shooting this film to keep it at a PG-13 level. A lot of people have said this is a film that should have warranted an R rating, and it does come very close, but I am not asking whether or not the film warranted the correct rating. I'm wondering whether it would've been a different film if Nolan wrote this thing thinking it was going to be an R-rated movie.
The Dark Knight is a film that has been praised for transcending the superhero genre. It is arguably, along with Watchmen I would say, the darkest, grittiest superhero movie ever made, and for Chris Nolan to create such a memorable atmosphere with PG-13 limitations makes his work even more admirable.
Another thing that has been on virtually everyone's list of things that were great in the film is the performance of Heath Ledger. As Richard Roeper puts it, "The late Heath Ledger plays [The Joker] like the demented offspring of Alex from 'A Clockwork Orange'". That is really saying something about how disturbing of a character Ledger created. We all know that Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange is one of the most controversial films ever made, and for Ledger's work to be compared to McDowell's legendary performance shows how much they stretched that PG-13 rating. But, how much more disturbing could The Joker have been with an R-rating? Think about how much more they could've possibly done. One of the things about Ledger's villain is that the audience actually liked seeing him on screen because the performance was so entertaining. With an R-rating, Ledger and Nolan could've gone even further and created an incredibly repulsive villain. Would that have been better or worse?
Another thing I thought about was the visual appearance of Harvey Dent after he transforms into Two-Face. It was a disturbing sight, but anyone who has seen Let the Right One In knows how much more disturbing a deformed face could possibly look.
These are some of my thoughts, and I think it's an intriguing topic to consider. Would the movie have gotten more Academy Awards consideration if it were an R-rated film, and not a summer blockbuster? Possibly. Would Ledger have created an even more memorable character if there were less boundaries? Possibly. And I'm sure there had to have been ideas that Nolan left out because he had to keep it PG-13 appropriate.
What do you readers think? Would an R-rated The Dark Knight have been better or worse? Or would it not have mattered? Please weigh in with your thoughts below.
The movie’s opening sequences are dedicated to acquainting the audience with our hero’s small-town lifestyle. He grows up in a strict Catholic household where he learns the traits of nationalism and religious pride that have been the code of his parents’ lives. In fact, his father is a veteran himself, but strangely enough, it is his mother that is encouraging war more than him.
Ron is a hard-working student and a star wrestler for the high school team of
However, his tour of duty doesn’t go too well. There are a series of gritty, realistic, and disoriented battle scenes that show the horror and confusion that these soldiers face in battle. It is during these sequences that our hero is shot twice, once in the foot and once in the chest. After being rescued, Ron learns that he is paralyzed from the mid-chest down, and this sets the stage for the grueling scenes at
The performances in this film are exceptional. Willem Dafoe has a small, but meaty role as another paralyzed veteran that Kovic eventually meets, and Frank Whaley also turns in a strong performance as a long time friend. However, this is clearly Cruise’s film. It is a complete showcase for the actor and every moment feels so real and genuine. He plays the character with such raw emotion that I can’t help but believe the real Ron Kovic was astonished at how true the performance turned out.
The most emotional scenes in the movie are when Kovic first returns home. It is an incredibly powerful and alarming experience to watch this warrior return home to his neighborhood in a wheelchair. Ron makes it clear that he doesn’t want his family’s pity, but he can’t help looking into their eyes and seeing how devastated they are. His parents in the film are played by Raymond J. Barry and Caroline Kava, and they are brilliant in these scenes, putting up an incredible effort to match Cruise’s on-screen magic.
In spite of all the greatness, it is in these particular scenes that the film finds its flaw. It’s not that they aren’t masterfully executed; it’s just the fact that they appear too early in the film. Kovic’s return home was undoubtedly the emotional