Tuesday, September 14, 2004


It's really been a bad year for movies. Even here in L.A. where EVERYTHING has to play for seven days, there still is next to nothing my friends and I wanted to see at the theater this past weekend. We actually almost settled on watching a DVD at my place, but then somebody noted that the new caper film Criminal was getting strong reviews.

I can never resist a good con/caper film. [sigh] I should learn to...

Starring John C. Relly and a new guy named Diego Luna (who my twenty-something femals friends assure me is "hot" but he just looks kind of effeminate and under-fed to me.), the best thing in the film is supporting actress Maggie Gyllenhaal. Not that she does anything noteworthy here. She's just such a natural talent, that she is fun to watch even when she doesn't have much to do, as in Criminal.

Criminal is a remake of an Argentinian film Nine Queens, which also got critical raves, but, IF that prior film had the same stupid ending as Criminal, I think the real caper in the story is the one pulled on the audience.

The film plays out nicely with some good characterizations and overall technique. I did kind of wish the director would cease and desist with the unmotivated close-ups already, but I suppose this is a pedestrian way of building tension in a caper film. The story keeps your attention, but only because, all the way through, the viewer thinks it is setting up some really clever con or caper. You sit there watching for minute clues, wondering what the twist is going to be, and, for that reason, you stay alert. But then when the twist is revealed (and no, I am actually not going to say what it is for a change) it is so lame and easy that you want to throw your empty popcorn box at the screen. And not in a good way.

Basically, the story's problem comes down to a huge suspension of disbelief moment that occurs in the first five minutes of the film, and which all throughout, I kept waiting to see how the filmmakers were going to deal with. Well, they don't deal with it at all. Just kind of hope at the end that the viewers won't remember how contrived the initial set-up was from 86 minutes ago.

Well, this viewer didn't forget. And I'm still mad. And not in a good way.

Mucho pass, amigo.


Kris Rasmussen said...

Come on...it has been awful lately at the movies but did you see Garden State? There's an entire "talk" for you to glean from that movie.

Kris Rasmussen

Barbara said...

Kris -
Greetings long lost one! How are you?! Good to hear from you.

I haven't seen Garden State yet, although several people have told me I must. So, I will. And I look forward to liking it.

Cheers and God bless -

Anonymous said...

Anybody who thinks that "solid reviews" are a reason to be optimistic about a film, especially a specimen of genre traditionally requiring logical but unpredictable plotting, is imo pretty much setting themselves up for disappointment. Most critics today are poorly equipped to analyze that kind of thing, having fried their brains on too much solipsistic art house twaddle. Caveat emptor.


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