Tag Archives: Christina Hendricks

Detachment (2011, Tony Kaye)

Detachment is not a message film. Kaye gives it a pseudo-documentary feel and does presents definite thesis about the public education in the United States. Except Detachment isn’t really about that message… it’s about how that setting specifically affects Adrien Brody’s protagonist.

Until the final sequence anyway; it’s one sequence too many. Kaye flubs on an ideal finish because he’s got too many endings and tries too hard to make the important message one fit. Until then, though, Detachment is nearly flawless.

Carl Lund’s script is brilliantly structured. Brody is a short-term substitute teacher. The film opens with him taking a thirty day assignment, giving the film a definite timeline. Lund and Kaye then bring other elements into Brody’s sphere, such as a fetching fellow teacher (Christina Hendricks) and, more importantly, a teenage prostitute (Sami Gayle). Detachment never shirks from its more difficult scenes, even though Kaye does sometimes get too frantic. The film presents Brody with a couple exceptionally difficult scenes and he essays them indescribably well.

He and Gayle’s story arc informs on his arc as the sub, while Brody’s solo arc with his dying grandfather, Louis Zorich, informs back on both. Absolutely brilliant character study plotting.

Kaye’s direction is good, his photography is better. James Caan is the most dynamic in the supporting cast, but Blythe Danner, William Petersen and Lucy Liu are all excellent too. Gayle’s great.

Detachment‘s not perfect… but there are a lot of perfect things about it. It’s an achievement.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed and photographed by Tony Kaye; written by Carl Lund; edited by Barry Alexander Brown and Geoffrey Richman; music by The Newton Brothers; production designer, Jade Healy; produced by Greg Shapiro, Lund, Bingo Gubelmann, Chris Papavasiliou, Austin Stark and Benji Kohn; released by Tribeca Film.

Starring Adrien Brody (Henry Barthes), Sami Gayle (Erica), Betty Kaye (Meredith), Louis Zorich (Grampa), Marcia Gay Harden (Principal Carol Dearden), James Caan (Mr. Charles Seaboldt), Christina Hendricks (Ms. Sarah Madison), Lucy Liu (Dr. Doris Parker), Blythe Danner (Ms. Perkins), Tim Blake Nelson (Mr. Wiatt), William Petersen (Mr. Sarge Kepler), Bryan Cranston (Mr. Dearden) and Isiah Whitlock Jr. (Mr. Mathias).


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Drive (2011, Nicolas Winding Refn)

It’s amazing how much mileage Drive gets out of its soundtrack–not Cliff Martinez, though he does a great Tangerine Dream impression, but the licensed songs from Kavinsky and College. They deserve opening titles billing.

Drive is an eighties L.A. crime thriller with a slight seventies sensibility and some ultra-violence. It’s unclear why director Winding Refn thought it needed ultra-violence because, after the first instance, everything else pales. He even goes too far with a later scene of Carey Mulligan discovering the violence her Romeo, Ryan Gosling, is capable of. Otherwise, Winding Refn does an excellent job. He’s aping eighties Michael Mann (Drive was better when it was called Thief and starred Jimmy Cann) along with some John Woo, not to mention Walter Hill’s The Driver.

While there are some slightly unpredictable details, Drive is utterly predictable. There’s one question to the entire film–is Gosling going to make it? He’s a precise, successful criminal who breaks the rules because of his emotions. Of course things go wrong. Of course he turns out to be tougher than John Rambo.

Since it’s not an exercise in originality, Drive‘s mostly just a good excuse to be impressed with Gosling and Albert Brooks. Ron Perlman’s great in it, but he’s playing Ron Perlman. Mulligan’s okay, though somewhat unbelievable as the wife of a dumb criminal. She’s too delicate. Bryan Cranston is utterly wasted.

But Gosling and Brooks? They’re both outstanding.

Drive‘s not bad, but Winding Refn has nothing original to say.

2/4★★

CREDITS

Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn; screenplay by Hossein Amini, based on the novel by James Sallis; director of photography, Newton Thomas Sigel; edited by Matthew Newman; music by Cliff Martinez; production designer, Beth Mickle; produced by Michel Litvak, John Palermo, Marc Platt, Gigi Pritzker and Adam Siegel; released by FilmDistrict.

Starring Ryan Gosling (Driver), Carey Mulligan (Irene), Bryan Cranston (Shannon), Albert Brooks (Bernie Rose), Oscar Isaac (Standard), Christina Hendricks (Blanche), Kaden Leos (Benicio) and Ron Perlman (Nino).


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All-Star Superman (2011, Sam Liu)

All-Star Superman, the comic book, is maybe the best Superman comic book. Based on empirical observation (i.e. the other animated DC Comics movies from Warner Premiere), I assumed All-Star Superman, the animated movie, would be awful.

I was wrong. It’s wondrous.

It’s not without its problems, of course. The movie is based on the comic, but it feels like one of the Superman movies. It needs better music. Christopher Drake has the chops to do a video game score, not this film.

Second, the character designs are often weak. Proportions are absurd.

Third, Alexis Denisof is terrible. He doesn’t have a big part, but he opens and closes the movie. It hurts.

Now, on the good stuff. All-Star Superman is about two things–Superman and Lois and Superman and Lex Luthor. About twenty-five minutes is just Superman and Lois having a date. Sure, she’s got temporary superpowers and they’re flying around, but it’s just a date. It’s lovely.

The Lex Luthor stuff comes later and is consistently entertaining.

James Denton is great. Anthony LaPaglia gives the film’s best performance. Christina Hendricks is all right (she’s best in her scenes with Denton, which is odd, since they probably didn’t record together). Everyone else is solid–Arnold Vosloo is excellent.

The script hurries a lot, but manages to sell every sequence, even if it starts problematically.

The movie does what the comic book did–it turns the traditional Superman story into a fable of unbridled enthusiasm.

It’s great.

3/4★★★

CREDITS

Directed by Sam Liu; screenplay by Dwayne McDuffie, based on a comic book by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely and a character created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster; edited by Margaret Hou; music by Christopher Drake; produced by Bobbie Page and Bruce W. Timm; released by Warner Premiere.

Starring James Denton (Superman / Clark Kent), Christina Hendricks (Lois Lane), Anthony LaPaglia (Lex Luthor), Alexis Denisof (Dr. Quintum), Edward Asner (Perry White), Matthew Gray Gubler (Jimmy Olsen), Kevin Michael Richardson (Steve Lombard), Steve Blum (Atlas), John DiMaggio (Samson), Linda Cardellini (Nasthalthia), Arnold Vosloo (Bar-El), Finola Hughes (Lilo-El), Robin Atkin Downes (Solaris), Michael Gough (Parasite) and Frances Conroy (Ma Kent).


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