Tuesday, October 6, 2009


Earth (A) is a phenomenally engrossing documentary about our planet and the animals that live here with us. The cinematography, especially in Blu Ray, was stunning and eye-popping. There are heart-racing chases, mind-blowing views of mountains and the ocean, and some great white shark footage that will leave you speechless. It's a massive undertaking, and the producers and cameramen and everyone involved should be given medals of some sort. I'm serious. This movie felt like a Herculean effort. Equally impressive is the making-of doc that accompanies the film.

Sam Mendes does it again with his latest, the rom-com road movie Away We Go (A). Mendes is now 5 for 5; his taste in material and his wonderful eye for style continue to really grab me. John Krasinski is excellent and Maya Rudolph is surprisingly effective in this dark, funny, and very heartfelt little film. It's Mendes' loosest, most relaxed effort, a bit shaggy around the edges, with a lot of love in its veins. It felt like a tonic of sorts for Mendes coming on the heels of the astringent yet powerful Revolutionary Road. And I still say that Mendes has made one of the best modern war film with Jarhead.

Lymelife (B) is a quiet and solid family drama from debut director Derek Martini. It's nothing brilliant, but the performances are all first-rate (Alec Baldwin and Rory Culkin are the major standouts) and the groovy soundtrack is aces. It's not as sharply observed as Ang Lee's similarly themed The Ice Storm, but it's a good movie, and a very good first effort.

I thought Rian Johnson's first movie, Brick, was basically a perfect creation. For what it wanted to do and how it wanted to do it, the film was wonderfully self-contained and adhered to a strange alternate universe of teenage gumshoes and old noir/detective tropes. The Brothers Bloom (B), Johnson's second feature, is a step back from Brick's overall brilliance, but it further demonstrates Johnson's gift with actors and his fantastic visual sense. The movie feels like The Sting made for today, but it lacks that film's breezy elegance. Yes, The Brothers Bloom is breezy and fun and completely and utterly preposterous, but it doesn't have the gravity that you need in a great con film to make you really care about the cons taking place. Adrien Brody and Mark Ruffalo are dependably solid and Rachel Weisz gets some laughs. I just wish that Johnson had pulled it all together a bit differently, with a bit "less is more" in his creative arsenal. Still, it's worth checking out.

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