Sunday, August 20, 2006

Who are you?

There's been something of a change of plan regarding my film reviews (such as they are). I have bypassed Sympathy for Mr Vengeance in favour of something that would also appeal to Wife. So, on Thursday evening we watched the critically acclaimed and award-winning
A History of Violence.

maria belloI'd been looking forward to this for quite some time, although oddly enough I only saw my first trailer for it about two weeks ago. The trailer looked different from how I was expecting the film to be. It looked better than I'd hoped.

First up, this is a very short film by the standards of modern feature films, running just 96 mins (92 mins on the UK PAL video system). Having said that, I think American films are getting shorter, probably to match the dwindling attention spans created by too much Coke and McDonald's as kids. As such, I'll try to keep this review short, too.

The synopsis: When his coffee shop and staff come under attack by armed robbers, Tom Stall (Viggo Mortensen) disarms and kills both offenders. He becomes a local hero. Before long, he is paid a visit by a Philadelphia mobster (Ed Harris) who believes Stall to be someone else -- someone who almost took his eye out years before -- and there's a debt to pay. The film follows the impact of this encounter and plays "is he/isn't he?" with the viewer and Tom's wife (Maria Bello, pictured above).

The review: All the acting, with the exception of the girl who plays Tom's daughter, is really good, as you would expect from performers of this calibre. The film is also great-looking and well directed. I've never been a huge fan of David Cronenberg's work, although he seems like a cool guy, but this could almost be the movie that swings my opinion. There are a couple of gory shots, proving you can take the boy out of the horror genre but you can't take the horror genre out of the boy. That's fine, though, since the film all hangs together as a beautiful whole... for a while. For my money, it loses its way a bit at the 52-minute mark, a little over halfway through. I don't think Cronenberg can be blamed for this, but it's hard to know, since I'm not familiar with the source material.

And yes, as Wife would tell you, this is yet another film in which someone goes down on Maria Bello. Wife is convinced that Maria Bello only signs up for films in which she gets head. I'm not certain about this, but the evidence seems to speak for itself...

The digits: A slightly disappointing, hit-or-miss affair. Still, I think it's a grower, and it definitely has all the hallmarks of a cult classic. With every Maria Bello pun intended, I give it 69. (Revisiting this review, and taking the cheap gag out of the equation, perhaps a more accurate score would be 62.)

Forthcoming reviews (such as they are): Grizzly Man and Sympathy for Mr Vengeance.


Blogger Red said...

Speaking of Maria Bello and people going down on her, The Cooler is on Film 4 tonight.

20 August, 2006 10:51  
Blogger Sue Ellen Mischke said...

Wait, she gets head in OTHER movies too? I thought the movie had way too much gratuitous nudity and graphic sex scenes. That scene on the stairs? And the cheerleading uniform? Please. And the full-frontal shot? I don't want to see that woman's cha cha! It was too much.

Aside from the nudity, I did like it. It was very violent, but given the title, I kind of expected that.

The Cooler is awesome. If you haven't seen it, do so.

20 August, 2006 14:47  
Blogger Candy Minx said...

Funny you should write about this one. I was just making a list of 13 Definitve Canadian movies. I was going to include this with why I think it's Canadian, not just because it was filmed in Canada or Cronenberg who is Canadian. I believe a movie has to be writer, producer, and director to be defined per least here. We have stiff "Canadian content " laws( has to be a certain ratio of music on radio aired that is Canadian) One of the reasons I was thinking this to be definitive a canadian movie is because an american might not make it, or relent...?
Anyways enjoyed the review. Of course you can probably guess, I gave this a higher score than yours. I think I'd give it a 90-95. But I also understand I have a higher thresold of enjoyemnt and lower level of discernment than a lot of people...I tend to enjoy movies a lot more than others, it's a weird thing...

love the review...I want to think about it and re-watch the movie in the next few days and get back to you...

20 August, 2006 16:42  
Blogger Radmila said...

It's interesting that you would review this movie. I reviewed it on my blog a few months ago here
While the movie had potential, and was filmed well, and kept forshadowing never came for me.
I was sorely disappointed in a number of consistency/logistical errors in the film...which ruined it for me.
Which is why the post is called 5 things I hated about the history of violence.
I really did get caught up in the festival hype.

20 August, 2006 16:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nothing to do with the thread but, out of all the blogs I visit, yours is consistently the one I return to again and again.

Keep it up *, and keep it about everything.


20 August, 2006 18:41  
Blogger Adam said...

I like Cronenberg - eXistenZ - The Fly, awesome. Haven't seen this though, heard mixed reviews on it.

21 August, 2006 07:26  
Blogger Wendy Ann Edwina D'Cunha e Pereira said...

You know I am a bit envious of you guys... you get to watch a whole lot of movies.... I cannot remember when I watched a movie... All I get to see these days is Popeye & Mr. Bean (I absolutely HATE Him!!!) & cartoons... My kids hog the television when we are home... If it's not them, then it's my husband with his sports channels & Discovery Travel & Living. I have no chance nor opportunity to watch the televison . So forget bout renting a movie... Also, we never watch violence / adult scenes... in front of the kids, so that pretty much rules out a whole lot of stuff...

21 August, 2006 07:42  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

gratuitous nudity, graphic sex scenes, cheerleading uniform, full frontal, womens cha cha's. i read no further, i'm gonna rent it.

21 August, 2006 08:51  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Red: I didn't watch The Cooler again, but I know I liked it more than you did.

Sue Ellen: I didn't mind the nudity and sex. I didn't find it gratuitous even. Hmmm, not sure what that says about me.

Candy: You always have great ideas for posts. I'm guessing this is a T13 one. I must say, though, I don't like that Canadian-percentage law. It's the same in France; see the connection? I kind of think, rightly or wrongly, funding is also important in defining a movie's "nationality", but talent and location are key, too. Look forward to hearing your views if you rewatch it. BTW, I don't even give my fave film of all time 95 points! Always room for new stuff then...

21 August, 2006 11:03  
Blogger * (asterisk) said...

Radmila: Thanks for stopping by. I checked out the post you mentioned, and I largely agree with your loopholes. Still, as mentioned in my reply to Sue Ellen Mischke, I didn't have a problem with the sex stuff, and neither did my missus. Don't know if this is a transatlantic divide, maybe?

Anon: Gee, thanks!

Adam: I was hoping to see Spider last night, or at least record it, but I forgot. Damn. The Fly is great, although I suspect it'll look very dated now...

Wendy: Ah, the kids thing. I hear similar things from other parent friends. I think that would drive me mad, not being able to watch what I want to when I want to!

Cappy: Do you think British men are easily pleased when it comes to films?!

21 August, 2006 11:09  
Blogger the cappuccino kid said...

no. it's me. i'm a tart.
it didn't have it all for me though. no scooters!
you got to check out the new release of quadrophenia. very crisp. if thats the correct term?
hey i could mail a review!

21 August, 2006 11:39  

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