Tag Archives: Robert John Burke

Limitless (2011, Neil Burger)

I never thought I’d see a movie where Bradley Cooper gives a far better performance than Robert De Niro. Not to say Cooper’s good in Limitless—the film is mildly amusing, sort of an amped up episode of “House,” mixed with Love Potion No. 9 and Flowers for Algernon, but Cooper’s still a lot better than De Niro.

Leslie Dixon’s script has a lot of strong points (one wonders if the weaker details are from the source novel). If Limitless were a little smarter, working to alienate instead of embrace, it would be even better. The real problem—besides De Niro being awful and Cooper being weak—is director Burger. He has two modes. One is bad handheld digital video and the other is bad, digitally enhanced digital video. It’s horrific at times.

Oh, wait, I forgot the photography—when Cooper’s got his super mental powers (which include his eyes getting bluer)—is important. It’s high contrast when Cooper’s in super-mode. Actually, I suppose Jo Willems’s photography is good, doing what Burger asks of it. It’s just a stupid request.

Abbie Cornish is weak as Cooper’s love interest, as is Andrew Howard as his nemesis. Anna Friel barely has any lines but she’s decent; Tomas Arana has none and he gives the film’s best performance.

One of the funnier problems is how Cooper’s a handsome guy made scuzzy for when he’s dumb. If they’d reversed it, it would’ve been much better.

But lots of changes would’ve made it better.

0/4ⓏⒺⓇⓄ

CREDITS

Directed by Neil Burger; screenplay by Leslie Dixon, based on a novel by Alan Glynn; director of photography, Jo Willems; edited by Tracy Adams and Naomi Geraghty; music by Paul Leonard-Morgan; production designer, Patrizia von Brandenstein; produced by Dixon, Ryan Kavanaugh and Scott Kroopf; released by Relativity Media.

Starring Bradley Cooper (Eddie Morra), Robert De Niro (Carl Van Loon), Abbie Cornish (Lindy), Andrew Howard (Gennady), Anna Friel (Melissa), Johnny Whitworth (Vernon), Tomas Arana (Man in Tan Coat), Robert John Burke (Pierce), Darren Goldstein (Kevin Doyle), Ned Eisenberg (Morris Brandt), T.V. Carpio (Valerie), Richard Bekins (Hank Atwood) and Patricia Kalember (Mrs. Atwood).


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Speak (2004, Jessica Sharzer)

I love reviewing the unexpected film, I love finding new filmmakers to watch. Still, I find Speak odd choice. I only bookmarked the film because D.B. Sweeney and Elizabeth Perkins play a married couple (I have a soft-spot for both)….

I first read about the film because of its broadcasting–it’s not a TV movie, but IMDb lists it as such. Showtime and Lifetime picked it up off the festival circuit and showed it simultaneously. I’m having a hard time constructing a review of the film (and hey, it was one I was going to simul-post on Blogcritics too), just because I don’t know how to talk about it without giving “it” away and the film does try to keep the viewer in a reasonable dark. Except it’s an adaptation of a young adult novel, but I’m not sure how many of my readers keep up with that medium.

I can say, nice and easy, that the lead, Kristen Stewart, is great. The only thing else I’ve seen her in was Panic Room and I don’t know if she was in the fifteen minutes I stayed in the theater for that one. Steve Zahn is not great. He’s trying way too hard and I had to look it up to remember that Out of Sight made him. Director and co-writer Jessica Sharzer has a great feel for directing. There are nice echoes throughout the film–which could, I suppose, be from the book, but I doubt it, because they seem so reflexive. Some people just know how long to hold a shot, how long to keep the music going, Sharzer seems to be one of those folks. Sometimes, however, the running time–ninety minutes–starts bumping into what the film wants to do and it hurts. But Sharzer tells a whole school year in ninety minutes and I buy it. There’s a lot in the film I don’t (and it’s not just because I’m a stickler about long present action), and that’s when the acting and Sharzer’s feel for directing come in.

Speak‘s a rewarding experience to be sure–there are just too many beautiful, quiet moments in it for the film not to be, particularly the relationship between the Stewart and her parents (Sweeney and Perkins). It reminds me of something I read about Rebecca Miller’s Personal Velocity, an online critic calling it a “Lifetime movie,” which made me think I need to see more Lifetime movies then. Speak isn’t exactly a Lifetime movie and it’s no Personal Velocity, but it’s good.

2.5/4★★½

CREDITS

Directed by Jessica Sharzer; screenplay by Sharzer and Annie Young Frisbie, based on the novel by Laurie Halse Anderson; director of photography, Andrij Parekh; edited by Peter C. Frank; music by Christopher Libertino; production designer, Laura Ballinger; produced by Fred Berner, Matthew Myers and Matt Myers; released by Showtime Networks.

Starring Kristen Stewart (Melinda Sordino), Michael Angarano (Dave Petrakis), Robert John Burke (Mr. Neck), Hallee Hirsh (Rachel Bruin), Eric Lively (Andy Evans), Leslie Lyles (Hairwoman), Elizabeth Perkins (Joyce Sordino), Allison Siko (Heather), D.B. Sweeney (Jack Sordino) and Steve Zahn (Mr. Freeman).