Friday, October 14, 2005

Movies opening this week

Domino (Keira Knightley, Mickey Rourke, Edgar Ramirez, Lucy Liu, dir. Tony Scott)
I expected nothing less than a total train wreck from this, and it delivered. I don't know what Tony Scott's problem is lately that makes him think that cutting eight times a second and treating every frame with overexposure or annoying filters or special effects is a good idea. This movie looks exactly like Man on Fire, which is to say that it appears to have been directed by a 12-year-old with ADD. At least this has a sort of po-mo metafictional story that could theoretically be served by such an approach, unlike Man on Fire's straightforward revenge tale. I think the idea of taking a real person (bounty hunter Domino Harvey) and building a fictional story around them is interesting, and this movie could have been a really smart examination of the intersection between fact and fiction, and the way that people create myths about themselves to the point where even they don't know what's true and what's not. My friend pointed out after the screening that Confessions of a Dangerous Mind was a movie that succeeded in this way, so that you didn't mind that much of what was in the movie probably never really happened, since it all contributed to the portrait of Chuck Barris's mental state, the way he saw himself and the way he wanted others to see him. I think it's possible that if screenwriter Richard Kelly (the writer-director of Donnie Darko) had directed as well, it could have gone far enough in the surreal direction to really make a comment on personal and media-created myths. Instead it's just another annoyingly convoluted heist thriller that doesn't have the advantage of being either true or interesting. And it hurts your eyes to watch it. Wide release

Elizabethtown (Orlando Bloom, Kirsten Dunst, Susan Sarandon, dir. Cameron Crowe)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I sort of feel sorry for Cameron Crowe, because this movie is obviously very personal for him, and it's been getting some really bad reviews, including some that I think are harsher than necessary. This is not a great film, and it doesn't stack up to most of Crowe's previous work (although anything is better than Vanilla Sky), but it has a lot of really good moments that work well and the romance at the heart of it is a success, I think. It just has way too much other stuff that doesn't work at all. I think this movie could have used a complete overhaul at the script stage, taking out maybe a third of the story and fashioning it into a leaner, more focused (and thus more affecting) film. Even so, I still kind of like it. Maybe I identify with Cameron Crowe too much. Wide release

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