The Weekend Movie Recap: 2/24/12

posted by Rolocop

RAMPART – Woody Harrelson reunites with director Oren Moverman (THE MESSENGERS) for this dark character study of a bad cop.  Taking place in 1999, Harrelson plays Officer David Brown, who has been working for the LAPD for 20 years or so.  He’s a womanizer (he lives with his 2 ex-wives), a neglectful father, an alcoholic, a drug user, and has violent fits of rage.  He finds himself in the midst of a scandal due to him being a hard-ass cop.  His job and life is on the line as he tries to figure out his life.

This isn’t one of those movies where an asshole slowly comes to a realization that he needs to change his life.  David doesn’t change, and in some ways he becomes worse as the story goes on.  But the reason to see this is Woody Harrelson.  He gives a tour de force performance here, and was definitely robbed of an Oscar nomination.  Harrelson completely embodies this dreadful man as he cusses his way through scenes with a beer in his hand.  We see that there is a hint of good inside him, but the monster he has become won’t let it out.  It’s not an easy role to tackle and Woody succeeds enormously.

Those looking for something like TRAINING DAY will be sorely disappointed.  There’s really not any action.  This is more like LEAVING LAS VEGAS.  Not quite THAT depressing, but pretty close.  The free form structure allows the story to wander from scene to scene aimlessly, but this approach actually works for the lead character.  He’s walking around aimlessly too.  Director Moverman has done a great job creating a tension-filled atmosphere (where it feels like violence can break out at any moment) by using several different types of filming techniques and odd camera angles.  The supporting cast is very strong.  It was a pleasure seeing Ned Beatty as a sleazy cop friend of David.  Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche, Robin Wright, Ice Cube, Ben Foster, and Steve Buscemi all do good work as well.

If you’re down for a dark character study that will bring you on a journey to the hell that is the life of David Brown, give it a whirl.  It’s not quite as good as THE MESSENGERS, and I’m not sure if I would watch it again anytime soon.  But I’m very glad I saw it, if only to see the greatness of Harrelson’s performance.  Showing at The Lagoon.  Rating:

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CHICO & RITA – This Oscar-nominated animated film takes place during the late 40’s music scene in Cuba.  Chico is a fantastic piano player.  He meets singer Rita in a club one night and the two start a love affair.  However, their lifestyles don’t really mesh together all too well, as Rita likes to party and Chico is a bit of a womanizer.  The rest of the film chronicles their relationship as their music brings them to New York, Paris, Hollywood and Las Vegas.

This story isn’t new.  It’s the classic tragic tale of destined lovers who can’t find a way to be together.  But the way it’s told is fresh and unique.  This isn’t the typical animated story.  It’s not sugar coated for kids either as this is an R rated cartoon, complete with sex, nudity and a bit of violence.  The animation reminded me of that one show called Daria, but a bit more polished.  I love the way the cars looked as they drove through the blue tinted streets in Havana.  It’s a crude type of animation, but after constantly seeing the flawless animation of the Pixar-style generation, it’s a welcome change of pace. The music in this movie crackles as many of the jazz numbers made me tap my toes.  Seeing the music mixed with this odd looking animation really made the experience enjoyable.

Like I said, the story isn’t anything new as you’ll probably be able to tell what’s going to happen within the first 5 minutes, but to me that didn’t matter.  It was all about the experience.  It’s wonderful to look at and fun to listen to.  If you like adult animation or love Latin jazz, be prepared for a terrific time.  At the Lagoon.  Rating:

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Also opening in theaters:

ACT OF VALOR – The marketing for this movie is really pushing the fact that they used “real” active Navy Seals for this routine action thriller.  The acting isn’t awful, but not great.  There are some good action scenes (especially the first one which ends with a great car chase through the jungle), but occasionally I had a hard time keeping track of who was who, since several soldiers looked alike.  The story is something out of a Cannon Pictures movie from the 80’s, though not quite as fun.  It was a bit too pro-military for me.  Every soldier is shown as flawless individuals and American as apple pie.  And at times it felt so much like a propaganda video that I almost expected army recruiters to be outside of the theater after the screening.  Fans of Call of Duty (there are many POV shots in this), people in the Military, and Republicans are going to love it.  It was just okay for me.  Should’ve been better.  Wide release. Rating:

BULLHEAD – I noticed on a lot of fanboy sites that this Oscar-Nominated Foreign Film is getting enormous buzz.  Well, I saw it and it’s easily my least favorite of the nominees.  It’s about a dude with no testicles who works for the mob and has fits of rage.  It’s really well directed, but I found the story to be uninvolving and a bit indulgent.  Tried way to hard to be the next hip violent film (like the overrated BRONSON).  Opens at St. Anthony  Rating:

WANDERLUST – From the director of the mediocre ROLE MODELS comes this awful comedy that has Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston living in a commune.  Lots of nudists jokes, hippie jokes, and yuppie jokes.  At least I think they were trying to have jokes in this.  The filmmaking is sloppy (many shots don’t match up with one another) and the writing is almost non-existent.  It just seemed like the filmmaker got all his comedic acting friends together and started messing around in front of the camera.  I’m sure it was fun to make,  but besides a few mild chuckles, it’s horrendous. Wide release.  Rating:

GONE – Not screened for critics. Wide release

GOOD DEEDS – Tyler Perry doesn’t allow for critics to screen his films, and this film is no exception.  Can’t say I’m too disappointed.  Wide release.

Thursday, February 23rd, 2012 at 10:33 pm