Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Two Movie Reviews

As I did last year, I'm going to hold off on picking my best of 2007 movies until I've watched everything I've got in my pre-Oscar queue. I crossed another one off my list this past weekend: Atonement. I was very curious to see this movie, because I really enjoyed director Joe Wright's last effort, 2005's Pride and Prejudice. Atonement did not dissapoint. You've probably figured out most of the basic story from the many commercials that were playing around Christmas: a young girl (Saoirse Ronan) witnesses something scandalous which she doesn't understand, and promptly tells people about it. As a result, two young lovers (played by Keira Knightley and James McAvoy) are separated, and they remain apart through the tumult of WWII in England. I was prepared for the movie to be really sad, which it was, but I was also struck by the quality of the film. It is interestingly constructed, jumping forwards and backwards in time (this reminded me a lot of Brian Michael Bendis's writing). The acting is tight, led by Ronan and McAvoy (though Knightley got top billing, hers is actually more of a supporting role). The design was excellent. I particularly liked the sound design and score, which cleverly incorporates typewriter sounds at key moments. Overall, it was a beautiful, well-made film. I'm looking forward to Wright's next project.

The other movie I saw recently was Shoot 'Em Up. This is a short, violent, ridiculous movie about a "Mr. Smith" (Clive Owen) trying to protect a baby from some bad guys. Really, that is most of the plot. It's just an excuse to show tons of stunts, which are actually quite cool. It's an 80 minute movie, more than half of which is gun fights. It's got every iteration: gun fight in the street, gun fight in a car chase, gun fight on a rooftop, gun fight in a plane, gun fight while skydiving, gun fight in a gun factory.... Don't expect anything cerebral, but it's fun for what it is.

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