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Archive for the ‘Mystery/Thriller’ Category

A jolly good time, full of wit and action, the new retelling of Sherlock Holmes starring Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law is indeed a fun ride.  Guy Ritchie is back, reminding us what we loved about him (Snatch), but with a refinement that is true to the Holmes name.  Sherlock Holmes is an eccentric, but also a genius, so who better to play him than the incorrigible Robert Downey Jr.  One of the things that makes this film stand out from others is how they take something that we have seen many a time, such as a fight scene, but giving it a twist.  We see into the mind of Sherlock, a scientific mind, telling the audience exactly how he is going to defeat his opponent.  A specific jab here, a closing of the airway there and afterward, speeding it up for full effect.  Brilliant.  Jude Law is well cast as the straight man, the cool-headed sidekick, with his own dark gambling past.  They are a wonderful team, Holmes and Watson, if a bit dysfunctional at times.  The only weak link is Rachel McAdams as Holmes’ muse Irene Adler, mainly because you wish that she was a bit sassier, but still not bad enough to make one miserable.  The villan is a true surprise as Lord Blackwood a ghostly presence who seems to be a match for Holmes as he tries to crack his often teetering on the edge mind.  Visually stunning and often quite humorous, Sherlock Holmes is a fun ride, well worth your time and money.  4 out of 5 monkeys.

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tellnooneIt makes one nervous when supposedly more sophisticated cultures start embracing the worst in American pop culture, such as arena butt rock, athletic footwear and pulp surprise twist crime thrillers, so I was pleasantly surprised when I sat down to watch the French film Tell No One.  This is a suspense thriller that is well worth watching; even if it’s just for the on-foot chase scene courtesy of Dr. Alexandre Beck (Francois Cluzet).  Eight years after his wife’s murder, Alexandre is sent information that raises some questions as to the circumstances of his wife’s death.  It seems that there was a part of her life that he knew nothing about; could this have lead to her death?  The supporting characters play an interesting role in Alexandre’s world, whether it be as confidants (Kristen Scott Thomas as Helene Perkins – yes, she’s a Brit who can speak fluent French) or torturers (such as bad-ass Zak, played by Mikaela fisher, who can punch you in any organ and make you plead for mercy).  But it all comes down to Alexandre and his choices – because he is a caring doctor to a hemophiliac patient, when he is in trouble, he is able to call on the most unlikely source for help.  If you enjoy thrillers that are also smart and well acted, then you should check out this film.  4 out of 5 monkeys.

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moon-movie-image-2I love it when I am surprised while watching a movie, which doesn’t always happen.  While watching the film Moon, I had just this experience.  I would tell you exactly what that surprise was, but that would ruin the movie going experience for you, so go see the film and find out.  I will tell you however that the story is about Astronaut Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), who is on a three-year solo mission that keeps him on the “dark side” of the moon.  The only company he has is his assistant, a robot named Gerty (voiced by Kevin Spacey), who uses smiley faces to show his feelings (made me think of emoticons online, which would have normally made me angry, but it worked here).  When the film begins, Sam is two weeks away from the end of his three-year stint and is more than ready to go.  As Sam puts it, three years is a long time.  Doesn’t sound so long when you first think about it, but putting it into perspective that’s junior high school.  It takes a certain type of mentality to live alone for so long (some people would love it, I am referring to hermits) and Sam is starting to crack.  Frankly, he is a mess and he needs to see his family.  How would you react all alone in the vastness of space?  Would you revel in it?  What would you do in your “down time”?  Get a lot of reading done?  Write a novel?  Or does it take interactions with humans to inspire us to do anything?  Sam Rockwell is a magnificent choice for the role of Sam, few actors could carry such a role and in such an enthralling way.  Go see it and appreciate the interactions you have on a daily basis, even those with your annoying coworkers.  4 out of 5 monkeys

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state-of-playI am always game for a movie set in a city I know so well and when that movie also involves Russell Crowe, I’m there.  Political thrillers at their best involve believable twists and turns that have you holding your breath or squeezing the seat and/or hand next to you in expectation.  State of Play did this for me and more for a majority of the film and it was a grand ride.  Russell Crowe portrays the character of Cal McAffrey, a scruffy and seasoned reporter who lives for the job (something we have seen before in newspaper films, but not with Crowe at the helm), who is forced to make it personal when the hot story revolves around his college roommate, congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck).  As the movie progresses, we learn more and more about that relationship, but the truly interesting thing is watching Cal on the job, spying on his interactions with his colleagues (such as Della Frye played by Rachel McAdams) and seeing him sniff around at crime scenes.  I like the character of Cal as played by Crowe because he seems like a real reporter, someone who does it for the meat of it, someone who really wants to get the good story, but has been beaten down a few times.  Now for the ending; it was poopy.  It seemed like someone who was working on the film decided that it would a great idea to throw just one more twist into the movie and it was one twist too many.  It’s one of these endings where one element comes out of the blue to completely undo all of the other awesome twists and turns.  That is why I am sad to say, that I must give it only 3 out of 5 monkeys.  It was a tv ending.

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