Posted by: David Stewart | February 21, 2009

Movie Quick Takes

From recent flight from San Francisco to Beijing:

Body of Lies – Leonardo di Caprio as an up-and-coming CIA field officer who tries to break a terrorist organization in Jordan.  Russell Crowe is his US-based manager, who calmly calls in air strikes while he watches his kids play soccer. But can hard-bitten Leo find love in far-off Amman? Fascinating for the role of the Kingdom of Jordan, an ally of the US, and it’s complex role in the war on terror. Pretty good movie, though you have to tolerate plenty of f-bombs in the dialog.

Rockin Rolla – A real estate gangster in London gets mixed up with Russian mobsters, petty thieves, junkies, bent city councilors, a crooked accountant, his drug-addicted step-son rock star, and oh who cares. Everyone is chasing a McGuffin, a lucky painting that we never see.  It’s a very complex and dark gangster comedy, on the order of “In Bruges" without the tourist highlights.  Skip it.

City of Ember – Humanity’s fate lies in Ember, a subterranean city where the inhabitants have no knowledge of the upper world. But after two centuries, the city is falling apart. Can teens Dune and Leena unlock the mystery of Ember before the city dies? Art direction is beautiful, with details drawn down to the shoelaces of a post-apocalyptic society incapable of keeping things working, and settling for the creeping grunge around them. The movie is stuffed with terrific supporting actors.

Sixty Six – Poor Bernie.  His older brother gets all the attention, but then realizes that his Bar Mitzvah will be spotlighting him instead.  Bad news, it’s 1966, and his Bar Mitzvah falls on July 30, which is the same day as the World Cup soccer finals.  Plans for elaborate seating charts are thrown out the window.  Does England really have a chance to make it to the final?  Helena Bonham Carter and Stephen Rea are terrific in this gentle comedy about coming to age, how relationships between brothers (and parents) can run your life.  I liked it.

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