Monday, November 24, 2008

Three quick DVD reviews

Here are my opinions of the last three things I rented on Netflix.

The British TV series State of Play is definitely worth watching, especially for the information for Americans about how the British journalism and justice systems work. The people who will be most easily recognized by American audiences are Bill Nighy from Love, Actually and Shaun of the Dead as the newspaper editor, James McAvoy from The Chronicles of Narnia and The Last King of Scotland as one of the many reporters on a complicated story, Kelly MacDonald from Gosford Park and No Country for Old Men as another one of the reporters and Polly Walker from Rome, Emma and Enchanted April as the wife of the politician who is in the middle of the complicated story.

The main stars, David Morrissey as the M.P. whose girlfriend is killed and John Simm as the main reporter on the case, might be less known to American audiences because a lot of their best roles are on British television.

The casts are very good on all the DVDs reviewed here. What makes this worth watching, like almost all fiction films, is the writing. Matty Boy says check it out before they make an American verison of it and ruin it.

Next up is Ridley Scott's 2007 movie American Gangster. This movie fictionalizes the true story of Frank Lucas, the right hand man of legendary Harlem gangster Bumpy Johnson, who takes over the drug trade in Harlem after Bumpy dies in the 1960's. Lucas is able to secure a better supply of heroin from Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and has it flown in on military planes. The movie stars Denzel Washington as Frank Lucas and Russell Crowe as the cop who is trying to bring him down. Also in the top notch cast are Clarence Williams III as Bumpy Johnson, Josh Brolin, John Hawkes from Deadwood, Idris Elba from The Wire, Carla Gugino, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Armand Assante, Joe Morton, Jon Polito, Ruby Dee and my adopted actor Chiwetel Ejiofor, playing one of Lucas' many brothers he brings up from North Carolina to help him run his business.

This is also worth a watch.

Todd Haynes got some buzz for his movie I'm Not There by casting multiple actors to play characters that are all supposed to be some aspect of Bob Dylan, the most unusual casting being Cate Blanchett.

Here's my opinion of the movie I'm Not There. You shouldn't be there, either.

The long and short of it was that Young Bob Dylan was an asshole. He was an asshole to the people he liked and even more of an asshole to the people he didn't like. He was put in a very bizarre fishbowl back in the 1960s and he didn't like it one bit. Boo hoo for you, Bob.

Way back in my first month of writing this blog, I reviewed Dylan's memoir Chronicles: Volume 1. My strong advice if you want to know something about Dylan is to read that book and avoid this movie at all costs. Like the other films on this list, there is a strong cast here, but they are all wasted because of weak writing, so I won't list them here. The movie is a mess and it's not their fault.


dguzman said...

Oh, how I LOVE James McAvoy! I'll add that one to the queue. American Gangster is already in line, but it's behind all the The Life of Birds DVDs, so it'll be a while.

I figured that Dylan movie would suck. I mean, I like Blanchett and would watch her do a commercial for toilet paper, but I'm just not a Dylan fan, so I opted out on that one. Thanks for the confirmation.

sfmike said...

Didn't make it through either "American Gangster" or "I'm Not Here," although the latter inspired a truly hilarious vocal parody by my partner Tony. Ask him for his Dylan some time, it's even more annoying than the original.

Karlacita! said...

Oh, lovely and strange film with Bill Nighy and Kelly McDonald: The Girl in the Cafe.

Definitely worth watching.

Loved State of Play!