Sunday, October 27

Closed Circuit

The Film Fatales weave through the streets of London on the heels of suspense: Closed Circuit. The review.

2013. Rated R. 96 minutes. Starring Eric Bana, Rebecca Hall, Jim Broadbent, Ciran Hinds. Directed by John Crowley.

A high-profile terrorism case unexpectedly binds together two ex-lovers on the defense team - testing the limits of their loyalties and placing their lives in jeopardy. [imdb]

Nicole: Ever get the feeling your government has a dark and sullied underbelly? Operating under covert measures to catch those Most Wanted criminals despite unintended (or not) collateral damage? And, they’ll stop at nothing to keep their secrets well hidden? That’s the modus operandi at work in Closed Circuit: A taut, cerebral crime drama that will appeal to all diehard fans of PBS’s Masterpiece Theater and Mystery. I almost wish this wasn’t a major motion picture, but instead a BBC series. It has the makings of a really great serial drama.

elizabeth: Do I ever think that governments around the world have dark and sullied underbellies? Shirley, you jest. One thing that I found frightening, besides Close Circuit's storyline, is that while we were sitting in the dark some dastardly deals were being made all over the world by people I would not invite to dinner. The other thing is that I must go visit Mars during movies like this because I got a tad confused at times. I know, who would have thought? I think what they do is introduce all these characters and before you can put a name to a face they start offing part of the cast and you don’t know who is doing what to whom. They never do this sort of thing on Mars.

Nicole: Stop calling me Shirley. And, I'll take it from you on the interstellar space travel thing. If anyone's been tripping the light fantastic, it's you. So, let me 'splain some of the details that may have gotten lost while you were in zero gravity. Eric Bana plays Martin Rose, an arrogant barrister who’s been assigned to replace a friend and fellow barrister (who committed suicide – or so it would seem). The case: to defend the UK’s most-hated man, a terrorist responsible for a deadly bombing at Bourough Market. The defendant’s assigned advocate, Claudia Simmons-Howe (played by Rebecca Hall), is reluctantly paired with Rose – with whom she has a shady past. Together, they learn the lengths the government will go to make sure the outcome of this trial turns in their favor. The underhandedness comes through best via the bone-chillingly nonchalant performance by Jim Broadbent (Attorney General). *Shivers* Without revealing too much, Closed Circuit will teach you not to trust anyone. And, in our quickly-becoming Big Brother society, realize that your every move is being tracked. It’s enough to make conspiracy theorists sound rational. Maybe we should listen to the guy in the tinfoil hat—he might know a thing or two after all.

elizabeth: Did you say something? I was cleaning out the mothership’s glove compartment. Jim Broadbent was quite chilling and I enjoyed when he showed up to mess with everyone’s minds and futures. Erica Bana’s Rose and Rebecca Hall’s Simmons-Howe had a slow shimmer on the screen, but I think the tension between the two of them could have been hotter. The movie sometimes felt a little stalled but I was very grateful to be watching a movie that did not insult my intelligence.  I want more moves like this. Challenge our brains. We don’t need to kill off anymore brain cells.  Thankfully Closed Circuit is no Honey Boo Boo.

Nicole: Agreed. The plot is very winding and detailed—and the nuances of the British legal system may confuse Americans – but my advice is to stay with it. It’s well worth the watch and comes to a satisfying, thought-provoking conclusion. And, hey, Eric Bana’s easy on the eyes. Yes, I’m that shallow. Deal with it.

elizabeth:  Shallow, eh? I don’t think I can get you membership on Mars.

The Film Fatales give CLOSED CIRCUIT

Blue Jasmine

Blue Jasmine. 2013. Rated PG-13. 98 minutes. Starring Cate Blanchett, Alec Baldwin, Peter Sarsgaard, Bobby Cannavale, Andrew Dice Clay, Louis CK, Sally Hawkins. Written & directed by Woody Allen.
A life crisis causes a vapid and narcissistic socialite to head to San Francisco, where she tries to reconnect with her sister. [imdb]

Nicole: After seeing Blue Jasmine, I find myself conflicted. Not about whether it was a good movie or not, ‘cause it most certainly was. (Head and shoulders, in fact, above Woody’s last film To Rome, with Love.) I felt myself with odds about how badly I felt for its main character, Jeanette aka “Jasmine” – played to absolute, heart-breaking perfection by the incredible Cate Blanchett. True, Jasmine is a snob. True, she’s superficial. But, there’s more to her than the “misfortune” of wealth.

elizabeth: What I feel conflicted about is that I thought Andrew Dice Clay gave a very moving performance. I thought this movie was dark and depressing and I longed for the witty brilliance of a Woody Allen screenplay that comes to life on the screen.  I needed a couple of clever lines to keep me from going off the edge. (Note to all: Do not attempt to see this movie on a day when everything blows up in your face. Leave it for a day when you see puppies and rainbows. If I wasn’t such a strong person, I would have gone home and started to cut myself).

Nicole: Dramatic much? Damn.

elizabeth: ...but I really got into the storyline and the characters who showed all their vulnerabilities and angst on the screen. Let me put it this way – I would not like to lead either the lives of the formerly wealthy or the gang that thought they deserved so little in life. But the acting made this one of the best movies I have seen in 2013. I am a sucker for a Woody Allen movie, except for the disaster you mentioned before.

Nicole: I don’t know that I’d rank the entire movie as one of the best all year, but I would rank Blanchett’s performance as undoubtedly one of the best performances this year – Oscar-worthy, in fact. To say Jasmine is undone by her husband Allen’s (Alec Baldwin) cheating and underhanded business dealings is putting it mildly. Suffering from a debilitating nervous breakdown after her husband is jailed for his financial misdoings, Jasmine (bereft of all her once-lofty connections) seeks shelter with her sister (Sally Hawkins), whose choice of men, job and living conditions are way out of Jasmine’s comfort zone. Like it or not, Jasmine must find a way to make it in the world without the benefit of her husband’s money. But her mental fragility leads to many false starts and a vain attempt to recapture her status in the arms of another man.

elizabeth: I think almost all the performances made this such an important piece of cinema. I love when I forget that they are actors up there. They become us and show us our fragilities and ugliness and that is such a credit to Woody Allen. I wish Alec Baldwin was more sinister in his role. Maybe they needed to have some paparazzi around to set him off. He was almost invisible. Or maybe the movie needed someone without any emotion. I will get back to you on that.

Nicole: So, when does Alec’s restraining order against you expire? Here’s the thing. If either of us knew Jasmine in real life, we’d dislike her intensely for her vapid nature, her snobby behavior, and her superficial, label-centric mindset. But, scratch under that surface and there’s a terribly fragile person who is perhaps somewhat judged unfairly and deserving of our sympathies. I think, but don’t presume, that through Jasmine Allen is trying to get us to dig a little deeper before we pre-judge someone for their outward appearances. Not everything is black and white – life has a lot of grey.

elizabeth:  I think Woody does wants us to look beyond the surface and see that people who we assume have everything are really the ones who have the least. And being one of those who have the least, I would like to be in a Woody Allen movie. I can do superficial quite well. Call me.

The Film Fatales give BLUE JASMINE

Saturday, October 26

The Heat: Now On Demand & On DVD

The Film Fatales get out of the AC and into The Heat. 

NOW ON DEMAND & ON DVD. Rated R. 117 minutes. Starring Sandra Bullock, Melissa McCarthy, Marlon Wayans, Michael Rapaport, Jane Curtain, Demian Bichir, Taran Killam. Directed by Paul Feig. 

Uptight FBI special agent Sarah Ashburn is paired with testy Boston cop Shannon Mullins in order to take down a ruthless drug lord. The hitch: neither woman has ever had a partner -- or a friend for that matter. [imdb]

Nicole: Well, cassidy. I really had my fingers crossed this was going to be a good movie--mainly because of how much I love Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. And, I’m relieved to say I really liked it. 

elizabeth:  I was a tad concerned about seeing The Heat because of all their TV commercials.   A lot of comedic movies show all the funny lines in 30 seconds so I end up boycotting funny movies (because they are weak and dumb). I have to say I am right more times than not, but Bullock and McCarthy worked really well together and delivered a funny movie.  And it was nice to hear two women swear more than I do. 

Nicole: You may be pressing the truth a little there, missy. Maybe my memory is escaping me, but this is the first female law enforcement buddy movie, right? I’ve seen co-ed buddy movies, where the plot is usually ruined by sexual tension. I’ve seen male buddy movies where the machismo always bites off a bit more than it can chew. I’m glad it only took Hollywood a gazillion years to come up with this concept. 

elizabeth:  I think Hollywood is afraid of women carrying a movie, but these two actresses’ comedic and acting skills will make The Heat one of the biggest movies of this  summer. Bullock was brilliant (and quite annoying) as an uptight FBI agent while McCarthy’s cop role was completely off the wall.  Completely. But I would want them watching my back as long as McCarthy does not put me into a death hold.

Nicole: LOL, yea. McCarthy does pack one helluva punch. Bullock and McCarthy are a good comic pairing. It’s odd to see Bullock playing the straight “woman” when she’s usually cast as the cut-up in comedies. But with an actress like McCarthy – it was a pretty obvious choice who was going to clown it up. No one plays bad-ass crazy quite like her. But that didn’t stop Bullock from getting in a few, really solid comedic punches. 

elizabeth: I liked how McCarthy’s Mullins got the men even if it meant she threw them out the next day (like that is a bad thing) while Bullock’s Ashburn couldn’t even handle a pet.  If you get pass all the F bombs and some violence, you will appreciate the storyline going on about families and friends. Not that I would  invite any of them to a Thanksgiving dinner. Well, maybe the cat.

Nicole: Really good point. They totally played against type here and made McCarthy the Maneater, which is something film audiences are not used to seeing -- and should see more of. I could easily see this becoming a sequel. Based on reviews and box office predictions, we can expect one. I say bring it on. 

elizabeth: A sequel idea makes me a little nervous. Unless they can get all the actors back to do a sequel, I would beg some screenwriter to pen another story that will do justice to all of the talent that was up on the screen. 

Your DVD Options:

The SD version of the DVD isn't going to get you any special features, but the Blu-Ray disc is filled with some good extras, such as:
  • Mullins family fun
  • Von bloopers
  • Deleted, alternate & extended scenes
  • Acting master class
  • 5 commentaries including Paul Feig and Mystery Science Theater 3000