MOVIE REVIEWS: THE PRESTIGE, RUNNING WITH SCISSORS, THANK YOU FOR SMOKING
I would like to christen writer/director Christopher Nolan the King of Contemporary Movie Mystery. His films (Memento, Insomnia) are equally puzzling and smart, far from run-of-the-mill or Hollywood glamorous. The Prestige is Nolan’s follow-up to last year’s very successful Batman Begins, and reunites him with co-stars Christian Bale and Michael Caine. But this movie belongs to Hugh Jackman, who will make you forget about Wolverine in an instant. To be perfectly honest, this is the first time I’ve ever found him even remotely convincing in a lead role. There are twists and turns in The Prestige that will keep you on your toes throughout the film, a very enjoyable whodunit that also includes the ubiquitous Scarlett Johansson.
For what it’s worth…although both movies cover similar territory (i.e. magicians in turn-of-the-century
RUNNING WITH SCISSORS
I am going to state the obvious. Annette Bening is an amazing actress; her talent is unrivaled among her contemporaries. If for no other reason, see Running with Scissors because this is the one that should net her that long overdue Oscar. I thought American Beauty was her pièce de résistance, but she is simply phenomenal in this film. Bening’s performance brings to mind Ellen Burstyn’s brilliant, disturbingly realistic insanity in Requiem for a Dream. But believe it or not, it is none other than Jill Clayburgh who almost steals the show; her small but memorable role in Running with Scissors is worthy of a Best Supporting Actress nomination (she was up for Best Actress in both 1979 and 1980!). In addition, the extremely reliable Brian Cox is hysterical in this movie; his lengthy oeuvre does not include much light-hearted fare, so his physical comedy in Scissors was a welcome surprise. And not that he went anywhere, but it seems Alec Baldwin is making a comeback of sorts. His brief appearance in this film is surprisingly understated and appreciated, quite the opposite of his current gig as head honcho on 30 Rock. Overall, this movie is very funny, eccentric and slightly scattered, but the acting supersedes the few flaws from first-time director Ryan Murphy (Nip/Tuck).
NEW MOVIES ON MY MUST-SEE LIST
For Your Consideration
Christopher Guest and Eugene Levy are back, along with the same quirky, improvisational cast and script. Rumor has it that Catherine O’Hara may finally get the attention she deserves for this performance; ironically enough, the film is about a group of actors who receive and react to major award nomination buzz.
Two words: Kate Winslet. Regardless of the fact that it also stars Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Jack Black, I will be first in line simply because a Kate Winslet comedy is long overdue. Also, it is a Nancy Meyers film, the Queen of Chick Flicks That Also Appeal to Men (see: What Women Want and Something’s Gotta Give).
RENTAL OF THE WEEK
Add Thank You for Smoking to your Netflix queue or run out and rent it this weekend. It is a very clever and entertaining glimpse into the world of big tobacco, and features an amazing ensemble (Maria Bello, Adam Brody, Robert Duvall, Aaron Eckhart, Katie Holmes, Rob Lowe, and William H. Macy, among others). This is a very impressive debut from writer/director Jason Reitman, and you can follow his journey from script to screen here: http://thankyouforsmoking.typepad.com/.