Better Late Than Never: The Weekend Movie Recap 10/7/11

posted by Rolocop

THE IDES OF MARCH – George Clooney’s 4th directorial effort is this politically charged drama. His debut, CONFESSIONS OF A DANGEROUS MIND was a terrific ambitious film.  His second, GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK was just as good but was a much more restrained picture.  His 3rd, LEATHERHEADS, was a bit of a misfire that tried to capture the same wacky spirit that the Coen Bros. bring to many of their comedies.  I am happy to report that Clooney is back to form with his latest.

Ryan Gosling plays a young man working on a political campaign for a senator (George Clooney).  I won’t get too much into the plot since the real joy of the film is watching it all unfold.  The cast of characters include Clooney’s loyal campaign manager (Phillip Seymour Hoffman), the rival’s campaign manager who will stop at nothing to win (Paul Giamatti), a snoop reporter who will do anything to get her story (Marisa Tomei), and a young intern who falls for Gosling (Evan Rachel Wood).  Being a political film, of course there’s double crosses, scandals and a few twists.

The script, co-written by Clooney and based on an off Broadway play, is full of great characters and crackling dialogue.  Not unlike a David Mamet film, it’s full of suspense without any thrilling scenes.  Just razor sharp dialogue.  All of the performances are top notch. Again, Ryan Gosling is something of a triumph as the confident campaign veteran, who may think too highly of his own abilities.  It’s an Oscar worthy performance, but I fear he may not get nominated due to his other great performance in DRIVE.  They could cancel each other out.  Clooney is mostly in the background, but he’s the perfect person to play a “too-good-to-be-true politician.  Hoffman gives what could be the best performance in the film, or maybe he just has the best dialogue, who knows?  Either way, he’s an absolute joy to watch.  Paul Giamatti, Marisa Tomei, and especially Evan Rachel Wood also give very memorable performances.

Clooney’s direction is top notch, and I can honestly say that this is his best film as a filmmaker.  Every shot is carefully thought out.  It’s subtle, but there are lots of long takes and Clooney knows how to let his actors breathe, not over editing scenes like so many other directors do now these days.  I also have to mention Alexandre Desplat’s fantastic 70’s inspired score. Bravo!  I would compare this film to another excellent political drama, THE CONTENDER, which is one of my favorite recent films of all time.  I am not a political person at all, so it’s going to take a movie that has top notch writing, acting, photography, music, and editing to keep me engaged.  And this one is a winner all the way.  It’s got my vote as one of the best films of the year.  Wide Release Rating:

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Also opened on 10/7:

REAL STEEL – People are comparing it to ROCKY with robots, but it’s more like OVER THE TOP with robots, mostly due to the father/son angle.  The first 30 minutes or so weren’t very good, and features an embarrassing mugging performance by Kevin Durand, but as the movie goes on, it’s surprisingly watchable.  Or course it’s absolutely predictable, but it’s well executed with some pretty believable effects.  Not a bad movie by any means, but it didn’t blow me away.  In fact, I had more fun watching my daughter love it, than I had watching the actual film.  Good for families and most undemanding viewers will enjoy it.  So sue me if I wanted a bit more. Wide Release.  Rating:

MY AFTERNOONS WITH MARGUERITTE – The story has heart, but I found it to be sloppy in it’s presentation.  Couldn’t really get into it.  At The Edina. Rating:

HAPPY, HAPPY – At The Uptown

SARAH PALIN: YOU BETCHA! – St. Anthony

THE HUMAN CENTIPEDE 2 – The Uptown (midnight shows only on the weekends)

Tuesday, October 11th, 2011 at 11:45 pm