January 29th, 2009–
The best thing that can be said for Martin Campbell’s new thriller of Edge of Darkness is that it’s a gritty and welcome return for the fallen Mel Gibson who stars as Detective John Craven. That’s not a back-handed compliment either. Even before events in his private life shattered his rep, Gibson hadn’t exactly been lighting up the cinema with his onscreen presence. His ability was never in question but his choice of films often felt like paychecks to help finance his own personal directorial visions. He’s a gifted and canny director, but I haven’t really bought one of his performances since 1999’s Payback.
Now, in a variation on that role—add in a heaping helping of Liam Neeson’s grim, determined father from Taken—Gibson comes back to the acting fold with a character that walks the line between justice and vengeance so erratically one feels compelled to check the credits and make sure his name isn’t Max Rockatansky. Continue reading
44 Inch Chest (R) 112 min. Directed by: Malcolm Venville Written by: Louis Mellis & David Scinto Starring: Ray Winstone, Ian McShane, John Hurt, Tom Wilkinson, Stephen Dillane, Joanne Whalley Cinematography: Dan Landin Original Score: Angelo Badalamenti
There are six men in the room. It’s one of those run-down, grimy hotel jobs where the walls haven’t seen a paint roller in centuries, and the furnishings suggests it’s mostly used for taking care of unsavory business best not exposed to the light. Now imagine for a moment, you are the sixth man in the room…who happens to be tied to a chair with a bag over your head, listening to the other five decide your fate. Continue reading
Revanche (R) written & directed by: Götz Spielmann. starring: Johannes Krisch, Irina Potapenko, Andreas Lust, Ursula Strauss, Johannes Thanheiser. cinematography: Martin Gschalt.
Götz Spielmann’s Austrian thriller Revanche, nominated for Best Foreign Film at this year’s Academy Awards, is the kind of movie I usually adore. It takes it time in telling a story that on the surface seems unlikely and then uses the tools of the cinema to draw it out and bring it to life. For the most part it worked for me. I enjoyed the acting immensely. I appreciated the beautiful and pastoral cinematography and the brilliant framing of shots. I was engrossed in the story and invested to some degree in the characters. But, somehow, that doesn’t end up being enough for Revanche. Spielmann develops a languid drama based around the singular concept of vengeance but his keen eye for observation is ill suited to a would-be thriller that starts spinning its wheels mid-point. Continue reading