Posts Tagged ‘naomi watts’

st vincent

Vincent (Bill Murray) is a crotchety old man, whose life is taking a downward spiral. He’s an inveterate drinker and gambler, and he’s sleeping with a pregnant Russian prostitute named Daka. (Naomi Watts) Vincent meets his new neighbor, Maggie (Melissa McCarthy) when movers she hired knocks over a tree branch.  Maggie is a medical technician who is also a single mother with a 12 year old son named Oliver. (Jaeden Lieberher) Oliver goes to a Catholic school despite being Jewish, and he’s being bullied by a boy named Ocinski. (Dario Barosso)  During an emergency Maggie asks Vincent to babysit Oliver.  Is Vincent a bad influence on Oliver, or is Oliver a good influence on Vincent?

I didn’t like St Vincent at all.  What I liked least about this movie is that the story was so damn predictable that I knew from the first minute what was going to happen, no suspense, no surprises, the screenplay was basic connect the dots.  There was some phony baloney pathos thrown in for all the characters, but nothing real enough to draw the audience in or make them care.  Why make a Jewish kid go to a Catholic school, except to justify the title of the movie.  It makes no sense.

The acting is just plain awful. Murray plays a grumpy old iconoclast, who the audience is supposed to feel sorry for once the movie unfolds.  But he seems so bored with the screenplay that he can only feign interest in a character not grounded in reality.  Murray has a little trouble with his accent, at first he sounds like he’s from Chicago, then Boston, but I think the story is set in New York.  Poor Naomi Watts, saddled with an awfully written Russian character, forced to do a lousy Russian accent, playing Hollywood’s favorite female character, sadly, that’s a prostitute.  The good news is that Melissa McCarthy has toned down her angry, raging loudmouthed character, the bad news is it doesn’t help the movie at all. The kid who plays Oliver is cute and precocious, but what 12 year old gives an adult life advice?  Not many.

The director, who has  mostly directed short films before this got a restrained performance from McCarthy, which is an improvement, but he gets a comatose performance from Murray, which was not great.  And he uses a montage in the firm, one of my least favorite movie techniques.

St Vincent:  Murray doesn’t deserve top Bill-ing anymore.

the impossible

Henry (Ewan McGregor) works for a Japanese company, and takes his wife, Maria (Naomi Watts) and three kids, Lucas (Tom Holland)Thomas (Samuel Joslin) and Simon (Oakley Pendergast to Thailand on vacation.  No sooner do they get settled in their hotel, and start swimming in the pool, when a monster tsunami hits Thailand, Indonesia, India and Sri Lanka, and devastates everything in its path.  The tsunami splits up Henry and the family, Lucas and Maria end up together.  Maria is gravely hurt, somehow they climb a tree with another young toddler in tow and wait an agonizingly long time for help to arrive.

Maria and Lucas are finally taken to a hospital, but Maria is too badly injured to be taken to surgery.  In the interim, Lucas takes down names of strangers who are missing family members, and even re-unites a man with his son.  One day, Lucas arrives where his mother was resting only to find his mother gone.  A friendly caretaker (Ploy Jindachote) helps Lucas find his mother but she is still too weak for surgery.  Can the doctors stabilize her enough to operate on her?  Where are Henry, Thomas and Simon?  Are their lives taken by the devastating tsunami?

I wanted to watch The Impossible because I wanted to remember what I felt like almost ten years ago when that tsunami devastated Indonesia, India, Thailand and Sri Lanka.  I was in shock that one natural disaster could take such a heavy toll.  This movie does an excellent job of physically recreating the damage done by the tsunami, and I give the filmmakers credit for tackling a story that’s extremely difficult to tell, but this is a movie with surprisingly many shortcomings.  It’s based on a true story, but the real family was Spanish, the movie family is British, so again, like The Butler, how many liberties did the writers take with the actual story?  I didn’t like the ethnocentric focus of this movie, if viewers knew nothing about the tsunami of 2004, they would think that all the victims were European, because Europeans are the only victims shown in this movie.  The reality is that hundreds of thousands of people died as a result of the 2004 tsunami, most of whom were Asian.  Other than the caretaker, and a nurse, none of the characters in the movie were Asian, that’s not right.  This is a movie that almost  demands a tragic ending, to reflect the tragic circumstances of the storm, I won’t tell you the ending, you have to watch it yourself to see if it’s fitting.  The writers even write in some product placement involving a can of Coke, hardly appropriate for a tragedy of this magnitude.

One big reason to watch this movie, despite whatever shortcomings the script may have, are the performances.  Naomi Watts has a physically grueling and emotionally taxing performance. She gives her all in this performance, there is nothing left behind, no physical or emotional pain unmined.  She is the soul of this movie.  Ewan McGregor gives a similarly strong and emotional performance.  He is such a versatile actor, and is so good in  so many different roles, Big Fish, Salmon Fishing in The Yemen, Attack of the Clones Revenge of the Sith, he brings an incredible vitality and humanity to all his roles.  The kids are all very good also, they are very mature at times, yet very vulnerable at others.

The story is long, but the pacing is good, so the movie doesn’t drag. The visuals speak for themselves.  The scenes of devastation speak in ways that words cannot express.  Those scenes by themselves make the movie worth watching.

The Impossible:  Great acting and incredible visuals make the impossible possible.

Movie Review: The International (2009)

Posted: August 18, 2013 in Drama
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the international

Louis Salinger (Clive Owen) of Interpol, is trying to track down the shady transactions of a bank named I.B.B. C.  The bank is accused of being a middleman in an arms deal between China and a Turkish arms dealer named Ahmet Sunay (Haluk Bilginer)  Salinger is joined by Manhattan D.A. Eleanor Whitman. ( Naomi Watts) The quest to prove the charges begins in Berlin,  where Whitman’s assistant Thomas Schumer (Ian Burfield) is shot with a poisonous dart to simulate a heart attack.  Salinger and Whitman go next to Italy to talk to the head of an Italian defense company, Umberto Calivini (Luca Barbareschi) they want to find out why a bank would be in the middle of a transaction between the Chinese and the Turks.  Calvini tells Salinger and Whitman what he thinks and then is promptly shot in the head by an assassin, named the Consultant (Brian F. O’Byrne)

The trail for The Consultant leads to New York.  A bloody gun battle ensues between bank henchmen who don’t want the Consultant to talk.  The Consultant and Salinger both survive the gun play, and D.A Whitman gets Salinger an interview with Wilhelm Wexler (Armin Mueller Stahl) the senior member of I.B.B.C.  Can Salinger get Wexler to give up information on his banking partners about the arms deal?

What we have here in The International is a long, difficult to follow, convoluted, story about a banking scandal involving arms deals, money laundering and many hitmen. This movie might bear some resemblance to the BCCI Scandal, who lent money to drug cartels and terrorists, and proceeded to launder that money.  Why go to all that trouble?  In 2007, we had our own financial meltdown in the U.S.  Banks were selling debt laden mortgages as securities around the world and almost ruining the world’s financial system.  I guess they couldn’t tell that story, because no bankers went to jail, and they got a bailout for freezing credit and wreaking havoc on America.  But I digress.  The International is a movie that can’t decide if it’s a shoot-em-up action flick or it’s a thinking man’s thriller, and for me it ends up not being enough of either. The shoot-em up part is really violent and bloody and not for kids at all, hence the R-rating.  But the level of violence was totally unnecessary when telling a story about bank fraud. Another thing that bothers me, bullets are flying everywhere during a gun battle and no major characters get hurt, and even if they do, they are fine in the next scene.  Is that realism?  The final aspect of the movie that irritated me was the treatment of Naomi Watts character.  It’s just an example of awful writing and a shame to happen to such a good actress.

The acting is fine by Naomi Watts and Clive Owen.  Watts does a believable American accent and does a good job partnering with Owen.  Owen , who I don’t think of as an action star, does a good job navigating the uneven script, and handles both action and intellectual scenes well.  The story is long, and the pacing is slow, and the writing sometimes loses itself in the minutiae, so overall, I wouldn’t watch it. There are better action movies, (The Batman Trilogy) and better suspense thrillers, (the Bourne Series) so watch those instead, skip this.

The International.  Less bank for your buck.