GONE BABY GONE, Ben Affleck's directorial debut, is an excellent crime noir with a commanding lead performance from Casey Affleck. Ed Harris is scorching as a tough Boston cop and Morgan Freeman is always a pleasure to watch. It's a dark, sordid tale of a kidnapped little girl, low-class Boston crime scum, and layered police corruption that thrives off of realistic atmospherics and an authenticity in the small details. While not perfect, it's a frequently riveting thriller with a couple of fantastic individual sequences. And most importantly, the moral ambiguity and questions of social resposnibility that the film raises is uncommonly mature and introspective for the genre. You will walk out of the theater discussing many things after the lights come up. My full review will be posted soon.
Director Michael Winterbottom's grim and chilling A MIGHTY HEART wasn't necessarily as amazing as some of the reviews had suggested, but at the same time, it's a tightly paced, realistic feeling procedural with a sad, honest performance from Angelina Jolie. Based on the real life kidnapping and murder of Wall Street Journal writer Daniel Peral a year after 9/11, Winterbottom eschews big, political thriller aspects (think RENDITION or SYRIANA) in favor of an intimate look at a wife and mother-to-be (Jolie, as Marianne Pearl, Daniel's wife) who is struggling to find out the truth about the fate of her loving husband. Winterbottom seems to have been inspired by Michael Mann's style from his masterwork THE INSIDER; the cinematography and editing have a fly-on-the-wall quality and the low-key performances from the supporting cast lend to the authenticity of the film. It's a sad story, with no happy endings tacked on in trite Hollywood fashion. Winterbottom, who previously directed the similarily themed post 9/11 tale THE ROAD TO GUANTANOMO, deserves credit for taclking difficult subject matter without amping his films up with needless, contrived theatrics.