Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Penny Thoughts: Week of Jan. 5-11

Knowing (2009) ****
Dir. Alex Proyas
Starring: Nicolas Cage, Chandler Canterbury, Rose Byrne, Lara Robinson

I originally reviewed this surprisingly effective sci-fi thriller back in March of 2009. Read my full-length review here.

Star Trek III: The Search for Spock (1984) **
Dir. Leonard Nimoy
Starring: William Shatner, DeForest Kelley, Christopher Lloyd, James Doohan, George Takei, Nichelle Nichols, Walter Koenig, Merritt Butrick, Robin Curtis

I know we all love Spock, but this bridging episode in the film series always felt like it only existed to tie up the plot of number two and set up the plot for number four. For all the success “The Wrath of Kahn” had, it seems as if this one was made on a shoestring budget, with phony looking sets, bad make up and simplistic special effects. The story line of the Klingon commander wanting the “secret of the Genesis Device” is seriously flawed and exists only to create some sort of action conflict for Kirk and crew. There are some bold developments, but for the most part this one seems like a spacer between the real movies.

Trucker (2009) ****
Dir. James Mottern
Starring: Michelle Monaghan, Jimmy Bennett, Nathan Fillion, Benjamin Bratt, Joey Lauren Adams

“Trucker” is another one of those great quite heartland character studies. It’s filmed with the same simplicity, power and independent spirit as other great movies you’ve never heard of, like “Come Early Morning” and “Tully”. Michelle Monaghan proves, like some many actresses have in the past decade, that she’s more than just a pretty face with her performance as a long haul trucker who must watch her 11 year old son when her ex-husband gets sick.

Che, Part Two (2008) ***½
Dir. Steven Soderbergh
Starring: Benicio Del Toro, Othello Rensoli, Franke Potente, Norman Santiago, Joaquim de Almeida, Pablo DurĂ¡n, Juan Salinas, Lou Diamond Phillips

The second part of Steven Soderbergh’s epic portrait of revolutionary Ernesto ‘Che’ Gueverra, follows the guerilla on his final campaign in Bolivia. Part Two seems a little less focused than the first part of the film, as Che’s Bolivian revolutionaries have a harder time drumming up support from locals than the rebels in Cuba. This segment is a little more confusing and moves more slowly than the first segment. It seems to suffer a little by not having the device of taking the audience out of the jungle and into the New York scenes with Che in the first movie. But it still gives an intimate look into the inner workings of a revolution.

Gomorrah (2008) ****
Dir. Matteo Garrone
Starring: Tony Servillo, Gianfelice Imparato, Salvatore Cantalupo, Salvatore Abruzzese, Marco Macor, Ciro Petrone, Carmine Pasternoster

Italian made movie about the modern-day Italian crime organization, the Camorra. The film follows five different stories at different levels of the organization. It shows us the crime world is just as nasty as ever, yet seems to offer its soldiers less than Hollywood depictions suggest. Only one person in the syndicate depicted here seems to have any real money. The title cards at the end of the film describing what the real Camorra is responsible for is even more shocking than the lives portrayed in the film.

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