Friday, December 9, 2011

Rampart

In Rampart Woody Harrelson fucks, shoots, kills his way through law as a corrupt LAPD officer. It's a towering performance that show just how good this 40 year old actor can be. An Oscar nomination is in the waiting. The same can't be said for the movie - which doesn't rank in the same league as recent corrupt cop fare as Narc, Dark Blue or Training Day. The problem? Writer Director Oren Moverman - a former Israeli solider- doesn't really give his movie any real momentum, the material here deserves much more surprise and suspense than it gets. In his earlier film The Messenger, Moverman had enough solid scenes and core storytelling to get past the storytelling flaws, here he doesn't. Harrelson's corrupt cop is a shallow unlikeable man that has had kids with a set of two sisters and pimps his way in bars every night looking for a fuck. He's also in a deep media controversy after beating up a black guy while being secretly taped by a bystander. Moverman doesn't know where to take his movie. It's got a fascinating character at its core yet you're not as hooked to the story as you'd like to be. The subplots with his family are confusing and not properly explained ditto his relationship with his wheel-chair bound brother. Even worse, he has a bar hook up with an attractive sex addict -cleverly played by Robin Wright Penn- that leads to an underdeveloped friendship between the two. It's Harrelson that makes this one worth a look. He gets so under his character's skin that you actually do believe he's as nasty as he looks. It's a high wire act that Harrelson carries home, even when the movie around him falters.

The Adventures Of Tintin




I am an unabashed fan of Steven Spielberg's output of the past -oh say- 10-12 years of work and he's rarely let me down with much of the masterful stuff he's done (I forgive him for The Terminal) but boy was his adaptation of Herge's Tin Tin comic book series a disappointement. There are brilliant flashes in the film's close to 110 minute running time yet Spielberg -and producer Peter Jackson- try to fit too much in the film and don't exactly give the viewer any breathing room. When the film was over I couldn't help but feel hammered down by all the excess. Jamie Bell plays the beloved teenage detective and the motion capture technology that Spielberg uses in the film is the best use yet of this technology. Andy Serkis plays his sidekick captain but doesn't get as much to chew on here as he did in Planet Of The Apes earlier this summer.

The plot is messy and complicated but in short has to do with a kind of Indiana Jones-like mystery involving a hidden treasure and three separate sheets of paper that connect all the plot twists at the end - or something like that. I'll say this, some of the maddeningly kinetic action set pieces do work but what this really looked like to me was Spielberg trying to get back to his old school Raiders Of The Lost Ark Days. Except Spielberg forgot that in that very movie he gave his characters time to breathe and us less of a headache. Indy is a classic of the genre because it revolved around building tension and time throughout its playfully complicated plot. Consider this one not so successful but I'm still looking forward to Spielberg's next film -War Horse .. Coming out in less that 16 days from now.

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