Saturday, April 16, 2011

My Movie Diary 3-6-11


The Town(2010) A large part of what made Ben Affleck's directorial debut(Gone Baby Gone) such a pleasant surprise was it's low key tone and local Bostonian flavor. The film was set in a very specific place and community and it benefited from taking the time to explore it's corners. The Town, while still a technically adept and enjoyable film, loses that specificity and suffers for it. The film is well done, with fine performances by all(yes, even Affleck), and Affleck shows a natural talent behind the camera, but it's also incredibly straightforward. Another tale about a criminal with a heart of gold attempting one final job before he can go legit with the girl of his dreams. Pop quiz; how do you think that scenario will unfold? You probably won't be surprised.

The Seven Percent Solution(1976)
The movie starts out a bit rough, with a seemingly miscast Robert Duvall as Watson. Nicol Williamson's performance as a heroin addicted Sherlock Holmes livens up this opening stretch. In the course of a single scene Williamson will run us through one of Sherlock's patented displays of his powers of observation, mounting gradually from a calm demeanor to frenzied, flop-sweat drenched, spittle spewing mania as the effects of heroin withdrawal become more pronounced. The film is essentially split into two halves, with the first devoted to a fairly serious portrayal of Holmes' attempts to kick his addiction with the aid of Watson and Sigmund Freud(Alan Arkin). The latter half morphs into a more swashbuckling detective story complete with sword fights atop speeding trains. Both halves are great, but Duvall tips the films hand too soon with his overacting, and it isn't until the second half that the movie catches up to him.

Road Games(1981)
Stacy Keach plays a truck driver who, in his boredom, speculates on the lives of the random people he sees on the road. Eventually he begins to suspect an ominous van driver is actually a serial killer who's been crisscrossing the country preying on hitchhikers. Soon, the killer notices that he's been noticed, and the cat and mouse game begins. Keach is often hilarious as the truck driver who keeps a running conversation with himself in the tones of a particularly verbose playwright, and Jamie Lee Curtis matches him at every step as a hitchhiker who cheerfully joins in his suspicions. Essentially this film is Rear Window transplanted to the Australian highway system. Jamie Lee Curtis' hitchhiker is even referred to repeatedly as 'Hitch' in a direct nod to the great director.

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