Sunday, April 19, 2009

Movies opening this week

(Apologies again for lateness. My hope for more free time in the last few weeks has obviously not come to fruition.) Hear me chat with Angela Abshier of the Las Vegas 48 Hour Film Project about these movies, as well as the Project itself, on this week's Josh Bell Hates Everything podcast. And this week's video, about State of Play, is much more straightforward than the last one. We're still working on that balance between informative and wacky.

Crank: High Voltage (Jason Statham, Amy Smart, Dwight Yoakam, dir. Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor)
I have mixed feelings about the Crank franchise. On one hand, it's definitely fun and visually inventive and unlike pretty much any other action movies out there. On the other hand, it's so misogynistic and crass that it's sometimes uncomfortable, and the relentless efforts to go over the top get pretty tiresome here. Like the first one, this is fun and exciting for 45 minutes or so, and then it's just exhausting. But rabid fans of the series will surely enjoy themselves, and I do understand why. Wide release

Gomorrah (Salvatore Cantalupo, Salvatore Abruzzese, Gianfelice Imparato, dir. Matteo Garrone)
I spent probably the first hour of this movie just trying to figure out who the characters were and how they related to each other, and even at the end I wasn't quite sure how the various organizations worked, or what was behind the main turf rivalry. Eventually, though, enough connections become clear that you can follow the action, and the second half is much more exciting and interesting. A lot of comparisons have been made to The Wire, but this movie reminded me more of something like City of God, with its focus on poor urban residents for whom crime is the only possible way of life. The police are little more than a spectral presence here, and there rarely seems to be a life beyond the confines of the neighborhood. This movie requires a little too much work to get into, and its characters sometimes seem a little like archetypes rather than people, but for the most part it's worth the effort. Opened limited Feb. 13; in Las Vegas this week

State of Play (Russell Crowe, Rachel McAdams, Ben Affleck, dir. Kevin Macdonald)
My review in Las Vegas Weekly
I really do appreciate this movie's earnest efforts to bolster old-fashioned journalism, but unfortunately it's not actually nearly as exciting as what Russell Crowe practices here. Although they did effectively capture the questionable fashion sense of newspaper writers; I totally own the same calculator watch that Crowe's rotund colleague wears throughout the movie. Wide release

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