Tuesday, August 21, 2007

August 21st Log

2007, Scott Frank, United States

1st Viewing, DVD

Following a successful screenwriting career (which notably includes two Elmore Leonard adaptations- Get Shorty and Out of Sight) Scott Frank makes his directorial debut with The Lookout. Much like his most likable screenplays, Frank’s film is of the slick crime genre, centering on a former high school hockey star who suffered brain damage in a car accident. As Chris Pratt, Joseph Gordon-Levitt gives a strong performance, easily making you feel compassionate for his emotional and psychological state. In a supporting role, Jeff Daniels gives an equally sincere performance as Gordon-Levitt’s blind friend and roommate. Frank structures the film simply, building sympathy for the two characters and the struggles of their daily routine. It is easily to connect emotionally because Gordon-Levitt and Daniels give convincing performances, most importantly without over doing anything. The second half of the film is more of Frank’s familiar crime genre territory, complete with betrayal and twists. This half of the film is effective but mostly because the first half pulls you in and creates a grim mood of despair and psychological struggle.

2007, James Foley, United States
1st Viewing, DVD

James Foley is a underrated director. One that has succeeded within the Hollywood system with a vast range of genre films. As such, Perfect Stranger is a surprising disappointment from Foley. I don’t know if some control or decisions were out of his hand, but with this film Foley seems to get trapped in the Hollywood formula. Perfect Stranger is watchable, but mostly as mindless convention. Yes, Halle Berry is gorgeous and I think she is a fine actress, but film is mostly a mess. The script has a cynical edge and the film attempts to create a mood of sexiness, yet ultimately Perfect Stranger is contrived and rather silly. As the film progresses you learn more about each character and there lies, knowing the film the film is leading to all sorts of twists. In the end, the film reveals it’s phoniness with a weak final twist(s). There are much worse films then this, but Foley has proven he is better then this all too typical “thriller”.


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