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The Town (2010)

This is the not fucking around crew so get me something that looks like a print because this not fucking around thing is about to go both ways.

— FBI S.A. Adam Frawley

Oh, my goodness. You guys! It sucked being away from the blog and I missed you all. I’m not totally back, but I wanted to give you something to tide you over. Last weekend I went to movies to watch Ben Affleck’s latest directorial effort, The Town. Let me just say that I loathe this title. It’s so plain and simple. Feelings aside, I wanted to see this film because I was put off by Affleck’s first film, Gone Baby Gone. I wondered what his second effort would yield. All I can say is don’t  watch the threaterical trailer it would spoil it for you.

Going back to his roots, Affleck’s latest tells the story about the bank robbery capital of the world, a Irish majority suburb of Boston called Charlestown. Affleck plays Doug MacRay, the leader of a group of bank robbers who have honed their skills to pull off the perfect heist. Along for the ride is the loose cannon of group, Jem Coughlin (Jeremy Renner), the tech guy, Desmond Elden (Owen Burke) and the getaway driver, Gloansy Magloan (Slaine).

During one of the group’s robberies, Doug forces to the bank manager, Claire (Rebeeca Hall) to open up the bank vault. She is clearly frazzled because she has a semi-automatic gun pointed at her with a bunch of guys in scary Rastafarian-like masks. Doug almost takes pity on her and tells her to calm herself and she would not get hurt. When she opens the vault, things go awry when somebody is trying to open the front doors, and Jem’s short fuse cause craziness. Jem butts the assistant manager with his gun and takes Claire as a hostage.

Eventually, Jem lets Claire go not without taking her driver’s license, but Jem thinks that Claire will be liability and needs to be taken out, because she lives in their neighborhood and might go the cops. Doug doesn’t want that to happen, so he volunteers to track her town, because he has an inexplicable pull towards Claire. He lies to Jem that he couldn’t find her and starts to have a relationship with her.

Meanwhile, the FBI S.A. Adam Frawley (Jon Hamm) and his partner, Dino Ciampa (Titus Welliver) are quick on the robbers trail and they would do anything to bring these guys down. Things gets complicated when Doug and Claire’s relationship is threatening the bonds of the brotherhood.

After a month and half of not watching a movie, I was feening for it like crack. Even though, I’ve never tried it. Don’t try it, kiddies out there. I had the choice  to see this, Easy A or try to see Scott Pilgrim vs The World. I think I might have picked the wrong film. I’m not saying that this movie is bad. It was fine. The first third of movie was boring as all get out. I was checking my watch a couple of times. Having a movie about the bad guys doesn’t work when you have Ben Affleck robbing banks for their boss, Fergie the Florist (Pete Postlethwaite)  and he is trying to get into Rebecca Hall’s pants. It didn’t gel with me.

I did enjoy the action elements of the film with the standoffs at the banks, the shootouts and the comic touches in the film, but the romance part of the film killed the movie for me. Besides that the ending of the movie is completely predictable that I knew who was going to survive and who wasn’t.

Judgment: This makes me want to revisit Gone Baby Gone again.

Rating: **1/2

The Prestige (2006)

prestige

Never show anyone. They’ll beg you and they’ll flatter you for the secret, but as soon as you give it up… you’ll be nothing to them.

— Alfred Borden

After seeing the craptacular spectacle that was X-Men Origins: Wolverine, I wanted to see a better Hugh Jackman movie. I thought that I might see The Prestige. This movie came out in 2006 with the double bill of it’s companion piece, The Illusionist with Ed Norton, Paul Giamatti and Jessica Biel.

This movie is currently #82 of the Top 250 of All Time on IMDB. I think that this movie is overrated. I love Christopher Nolan, but this movie is a mess. When you get the twist, the rest of the movie makes no sense. I will discuss the ending in the spoiler section.

Based on the novel of the same name by Christopher Priest, brothers Christopher and Jonathan Nolan tried to make another Memento, but Memento was more clever than this movie. It was contrived to say the least.

It is almost the turn of the 19th century, Robert Angier (Hugh Jackman) and Alfred Borden (Christian Bale) are rival magicians that are trying to upstage each other.

After a freak accident that leads to the death of Robert’s wife, Julia (Piper Perabo), Robert is determined to make Alfred pay from his crime.

The movie mainly focuses on “The Transporting Man” trick with the magician disappearing from one door and appears at another door when an flying object is at play.

Angier’s mentor, Cutter (Michael Caine), the assistant, Olivia (Scarlett Johansson) tell Alfred not to pursue upstaging Borden. It would only lead to disaster. Angier doesn’t want to hear it. His hard-headness leads into bizarre obsessive stalker territory.

Next, Angier is so consumed with his determination to beat Borden that he enlists a mad scientist, Nikola Tesla (David Bowie) and his assistant, Alley (Andy Serkis) to make a device to replicate himself. (This is not a spoiler. It’s revealed at the beginning of the movie.) Even Tesla tells Angier not to go ahead with the trick.

I was bored throughout the movie. It was over two hours long. It felt even longer. The plot is ridiculous and improbable for turn-of-the-century London.

Judgment: Avoid this movie like the plague.

Rating: **

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Vicky Cristina Barcelona (2008)


Here is another movie that have been nominated for 4 Golden Globes recently. Best Actor for Javier Bardem, Best Actress for Rebecca Hall, Best Supporting Actress for Penélope Cruz and Best Picture – Comedy.

This is a movie that I actually liked. It was showing at one movie theater here in Houston. I saw the movie yesterday.

This movies is the latest Woody Allen movie in European tour after he abandoned his beloved New York City behind a couple of years ago. After I was disappointed with his latest efforts, I was surprised that I loved this film. I heard that Allen was offered some money from the Spanish government to film a movie there. Here Vicky Cristina Barcelona is born.

The movie is about a pair of friends, Vicky (Rebecca Hall) and Cristina (Scarlett Johansson) visiting Barcelona for a couple of months. Vicky is a timid college student that is studying the Catalan culture of Spain. She is engaged to Doug (Chris Messina) that is working in New York. Cristina is free-spirited woman that does not want to led a boring life. She is trying to find herself and passion for something more in life.

They stay in the house of Vicky’s distant relative, Judy Nash (Patricia Clarkson) and her husband, Mark(Kevin Dunn).

One night when they are out at an art gallery, they meet a broodingly handsome painter, Juan Antonio (Javier Bardem). Cristina is immediately attracted to him. Out to dinner, they run into Juan Antonio, who blatantly propositions them to a threesome at his house in Oviedo. Vicky brutally rebuffs him, but Cristina is gung-ho about bedding down a total stranger.

Eventually, romantic entanglements occur between Vicky and Juan Antonio, Cristina and Juan Antonio and also between Cristina, Juan Antonio and his spitfire ex-wife, Maria Elena (Penélope Cruz).

Everybody was salivating with the kiss between Cristina and Maria Elena. It was very sweet. Nothing sexual.

During the course of the film, the personalities between Cristina and Vicky switch. Cristina wants to be in a monogamous relationship with Juan Antonio, but Maria Elena is a complication in the matter. Vicky takes a chance at being reckless with her relationship toward Juan Antonio and her engagement to Doug.

I liked this movie better than “Scoop” or “Cassandra’s Dream.” It was on par with “Match Point.” The scenery was wonderful. It reminded me of the time when I visited Spain over a decade ago. Fond memories.

I will say that I have a problem with the narration by Christopher Evan Welch. It does not need to be in this movie. I think it was very lazy in that respect. Why can’t we have silence? Contemplation? I wanted to have that period to reflect the action of action. I don’t need everything being spelled out to me.

Lastly, I think that Woody Allen did a disservice for the Spanish characters in this movie. The male as the stereotypical Latin lover/Lothario character and the female as the spitfire. Really, Woody? We have seen these archetypes again and again.

My rating: ***1/2 stars.

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