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Spotlight Marty Baron, Walter V. Robinson, Michael Rezendes, Mark Ruffalo, Michael Keaton, Rachel McAdams, Liev Schreiber, John Slattery, Brian d'Arcy James, Stanley Tucci, Billy Crudup

Spotlight: a special investigative unit of The Boston Globe investigate a potential child sex abuse scandal within the catholic church. Obviously, this is a fantastic ensemble cast; as you’d expect, everyone puts in a top shift and is rewarded with their moment. Granted the subject matter is tough to handle, but the movie plays it far too safe for me, with very little in the way of dramatic moments – it’s basically a couple of damp revelatory moments where one priest becomes thirteen, then more, then more, and Ruffalo’s rant was the single outstanding dramatic moment. Despite the journalists having an ‘enemy’ or ‘target’ there’s no real counterbalance or push back from the church – just one scene with the cardinal. The direction doesn’t help much either – felling so flat and removed from the story that it may as well have been marketed as a made-for-TV documentary. More than anything, it feels like a film that’s really personal to Boston and Bostonians; it’s set in Boston around their seemingly overbearing institutions which – as an outsider – maybe that’s the knockout punch that missed me. The profile and performances of such fine actors is really the only selling point for Spotlight, which is a disappointingly low-profile and unimaginative telling of a shocking and evil crime.

Score: 6/10

Note: for this film to have so many Oscar nods feels bizarre. Sometimes you see the list and can understand why films are on it… but not Spotlight. Nu-huh. Nope. Nein.

  • Best picture? ROFL – it’s barely a “movie”.
  • Best Supporting Actress? ROFL – McAdams is good, but gets almost no screentime.
  • Best Supporting Actor? Fair do’s, Ruffalo is the best thing in this.
  • Best Director? ROFL – More like BLANDEST Director
  • Best Editing? ROFL – it’s basic.
Mark ROFLO

I’m with Mark on this one – ROFLO!!!

Mission IMpossible III MiIII MI-3. Guns Tom Cruise Philip Seymour Hoffman Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Laurence Fishburne, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Aaron Paul

Mission Impossible III (M:i:III, M:I-3): the impossible missions force’s (IMF) best agent, Ethan Hunt, is brought out of retirement when an arms dealer kills his protégé, then kidnaps his fiancé. The action set-pieces are what make this film: there’s a quality raid on Berlin building; impossibly intricate Vatican mission, Shanghai rooftops, and a sustained climactic ending – action fans can’t really ask for more. The only let-down is the lack of an ‘Impossible’ break in attempt, which is the linchpin of – and arguably best things about – the previous two films. It’s far less po faced than other contemporary spies like Bourne and rebooted Bond: moments like Cruise singing “We are family”, and a few tongue-firmly-in-cheek nods to Cocktail and Top Gun are the cherries atop a full-fat everybody-having-fun cake. Even Cruise’s running is funny to watch – perhaps his version of the Arrested Development chicken dance?  Although it’s overall funnier, SeymourHoffman’s villain is the most callous and dangerous yet, he does well with his screen time. With a decent script, huge cast (Ving Rhames is back!) and another proficient director (JJ Abrams) putting his lens flared stamp all over it, Mission Impossible III is a great popcorn action movie with some gratuitous emotions thrown in; although it’s probably the least memorable or original entry in the franchise so far.

Score: 7.5/10

Mission Impossible
Mission Impossible II
Mission Impossible III
Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

Mission IMpossible III MiIII MI-3. Guns Tom Cruise Philip Seymour Hoffman Ving Rhames, Billy Crudup, Michelle Monaghan, Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Keri Russell, Maggie Q, Laurence Fishburne, Simon Pegg, Eddie Marsan, Aaron Paul

Rudderless - Billy Crudup, Miles Heizer, Anton Yelchin, Felicity Huffman, Laurence Fishburne, William H. Macy, Jamie Chung, Ben Kweller,Ryan Dean, Selena Gomez, Kate Micucci

Rudderless: after his son dies in a school shooting a grieving father finds his musical demos; learns them, plays them live and inadvertently ends up in a band that’s becoming successful. It’s all about the music, kind of like that film Once, but doesn’t suck hairy Irish balls. The musical aspect of this is solid; with believable songs and a good portrayal of gigging, jamming, the minutia of band life etc. The plotline is also an interesting take on taboo/sensitive material, and runs along nicely – if a little slowly – until the last act where it becomes more of a paint-by numbers affair, as the loose ends get tied up. Performances are top drawer too; Crudup is strong, and pulls you right in to his situation – it helps that he can play guitar and sang. Fishbourne steals all his scenes, and it’s clever casting Selena Gomez in despite being in 2 just scenes. Some would probably point out that the characters are thin, but it feels deliberate, in order to force the audience’s interest – enough subtle hints are laid out in the script for you to piece things together, and only key elements are eventually explicitly mentioned in the dialogue. The only major thing that bugged me was the continuous non diegetic music trying to manipulate you in to feeling what William H Macy wants as each scene plays out. As far as directorial debuts are concerned, WHM couldn’t have done much better; an interesting and compelling story, well acted, shot and edited – but was just a little too low-key / indie / shoe-gazing to fully enthrall.

Score: 7.5/10

 

 

Sleepers: after a prank goes wrong 4 childhood friends are sent to a correctional center, where their lives are changed forever. Most obviously, this features a powerhouse of actors doing great acting, like nothing I’ve watched in a loooong time. The kids, all great; the adults, just as good. De Niro, brilliant (why can’t he do this more often); Hoffman, top form; Bacon, creep-tastic; The King, not overdone… It’s like watching a masterclass. The story’s not the most upbeat, but is told expertly and handled tastefully. It’s well-directed and topped off with a solid, populist soundtrack. I genuinely have no idea where this film’s been hiding all my life. Despite the risqué material, this is a Grade A tour de force in story telling.

Score: 9/10