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Reviews for the Week of 10/19:

Mystic River



Rated R | 137 mins


     A bold, daring, and dark picture, Clint Eastwood’s Mystic River is set in a Boston neighborhood, and portrays the lives of three childhood friends, once grown. When young boys, two child molesters, pretending to be cops, confronted Jimmy, Dave, and Sean when they were writing their names in wet, drying concrete on the sidewalk. The men asked where each one of them lived, in hopes that they would be able to take one hostage. Jimmy and Sean resided in homes right in front of where the incident took place, but Dave lived on a different street. They insisted that they would have to take him home, and being just a child, he hesitantly got into their car as requested. They kidnapped him, as intended, and tortured him for four days before he was able to escape. This event traumatized all three of the buddies for a long period of time. However, many years later, their once eventful relationships faded into casual acquaintances.

     When Jimmy’s (Sean Penn’s) nineteen year-old daughter is suddenly murdered, the three are reunited, and begin to redevelop the deep bond which they once had. Sean (Kevin Bacon), now a homicide detective, is the primary investigator of the case. Dave (Tim Robbins) becomes a suspect for the killing, because of all of the evidence against him. While the story unravels, tremendous forces are at work. Mystic River becomes one of the most heartbreaking and touching movies in the history of cinema, and one of the finest of the year, at that.

     Each member of the all-star cast delivers an excellent performance. Penn is insanely spectacular as the father, simultaneously mourning the loss of his girl and trying to find and annihilate her murderer before the police are able to arrest him. Bacon plays the role of Sean fairly straight, but is effective, nonetheless. Robbins is definitely the strong-suit of the entire film; though we, as the audience, never feel that he is guilty of the crime, the way he portrays his character’s interaction with those who do is incredible. Also worth mentioning are Marcia Gay Harden, Laura Linney, and Lawrence Fishburne. Harden and Linney play the wives of Dave and Jimmy; their bond is one of the most intriguing of the entire movie. Fishburne is Whitey, Sean’s detective partner, always keeping the audience captivated by his commanding work, every time he’s onscreen.

     The sole flaw of Mystic River lies in its assembly. The way this film is strung together feels as though it’s been loosely woven onto a small and wearing thread. The scenes don’t match up together, in terms of mood or feel; while this movie is able to capture many emotions, the way in which they are connected is rough and jumbled. The transitions, from one passage to the next, are uneasy and misguided. However, the content itself is just as powerful, nonetheless. In the scheme of things, this is a small fault in a masterful picture.

     While it may be rough around the edges in certain cases, Mystic River is still a powerful film. For those who do not mind viewing depressing tales, this is one of the few must-see motion pictures of the year. I will definitely be revisiting it many times in the future, for it’s one of the most emotionally complex and beautiful experiences I’ve had at the movie theatre, in the last decade.


The Rundown



Rated PG-13 | 104 mins


     The Rundown categorizes itself as an “action/adventure comedy”. While it often masters the former genre, this movie fails to make us laugh. It’s half-empty; fueling itself only on the tremendous fight sequences it has to offer. However, these are only able to push The Rundown along for a generous amount of time. For a solid forty-five minutes, watching this film is a wonderfully engaging experience. Sadly, when the plot begins to heat up, and the gigantic finale arises, the action is already tired. With no amusing jokes to help make up for the relentless and exhausting skits at the very end, The Rundown becomes close to painful. (I only laughed twice during the entire ninety minute running length). It does have some redeeming features, though. These are very helpful in keeping the audience somewhat interested and enthralled.

     The two most notably wonderful things to be found in The Rundown are Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson’s performance and Peter Berg’s direction. With this film and The Scorpion King, The Rock is proving himself to be the Arnold Schwarzenegger of the new millennium. He’s commanding and talented; offering both force and charisma when onscreen. While Scorpion may have been a better movie, Rundown better suits his talent. He’s in good hands, too; director Berg is very gifted, and provides this flick with a certain amount of stylishness. While the action may become tired by the end of the picture’s duration, it’s certainly better crafted then, than it is at the beginning of the film. This is respectable, to say the least. There’s undeniable potential in The Rundown, but the results are mediocre; all of the talent is taken advantage of.

     This one serves as passable entertainment, and will be a quality rental for a Saturday afternoon. While The Rundown certainly lacks inspiration, it’s fun while it lasts. Let’s just hope that The Rock picks a better script next time.


Blue Car



Rated R | 96 mins


     Blue Car tells a tale that we rarely get to experience on film, one that’s so shockingly welcome and revolutionary; the concept in itself makes the movie worth seeing. It’s depressing and downtrodden, but ultimately leaves us amazed and enriched; I was tempted to watch the DVD a second time, instantly after the credits began to role.

     Most of Blue Car’s success leaves leading actress Agnes Bruckner to thank. She plays Meg, an eighteen year-old girl in a troubled home, who begins to develop a strong bond with her high school English teacher, Mr. Auster (David Strathairn), never thinking twice about his feelings for her. In this role, she maintains an extravagant amount of power, and always strikes the audience with a fearless presence, while playing a vulnerably fearful character. Bruckner is tremendously gifted and her talent is extremely evident here; her work in this picture is flawless.

     Awareness is one of the most predominant themes of Blue Car, and with such a successful execution, the audience is always able to grasp this concept. The story may be simplistic, but its true and earth-shattering contents never cease to astound us. This film is a must-see.


A View From the Top



Rated PG-13 | 87 mins


     Are you kidding me? I had no idea that Miramax, yes Miramax, would involve themselves with such a dopey, incoherent, stupid, asinine, and trashy project. A View from the Top is a putrid and overly moronic piece of fluff, which is only able to keep us remotely entertained for less than half of its running length. It contains desensitizing characters, pitiful dialogue, embarrassing performances, and an exhausting story. When viewing this movie, my mind was constantly bombarded by one question—how could so many tremendous talents take part in the making of such a ghastly motion picture? It’s hard to believe that there are actually people, living on planet Earth, who are air-headed enough to actually be able to enjoy such trash. While I will admit to finding a few passages of this one to be tolerable and fun, it’s certainly nowhere near joyous. Those who find A View from the Top likeable must be on crack. The eighty-seven minutes, which I spent watching it, would’ve been better used taking a nap.


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