Monday, November 12, 2007

Films of the Weekend

Movie name: Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Year of release: 2007
Director: Sidney Lumet
Stars: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Marisa Tomei, Albert Finney, Rosemary Harris, Amy Ryan, Michael Shannon
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 7
Sidney Lumet creates with "Before the Devil Knows You're Dead" one of the best films of his long career, one that includes such classics as "Serpico", "Dog Day Afternoon" and "Network". Working with a screenplay from newcomer Kelly Masterson, Lumet builds a film that pulsates with energy and that draws on the dynamics of a family in disintegration. Philip Seymour Hoffman excels as Andy the oldest sibling with too many problems in his hands, namely a trophy wife that is having an affair with his younger brother, embezzlement and a drug habit of high maintenance. The film starts as a botched heist and evolves to a family drama of huge proportions. It's a gripping and gritty film that is worth watching.

Movie name: Lions for LambsYear of release: 2007
Director: Robert Redford
Stars: Robert Redford, Meryl Streep, Tom Cruise, Michael Pena, Derek Luke, Andrew Garfield, Kevin Dunn, Peter Berg
Genre: Drama
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5

The return of Robert Redford to the screens in the director chair, after the underwhelming "The Legend of Bagger Vance", again fails to achieve the results of his earlier work (namely the solid films that were "Quiz Show" and "Ordinary People"). Working with a screenplay from Matthew Michael Carnahan (who also wrote "The Kingdom"), Redford presents a film that intends to question what is happening with the current war situations in delicate countries, however the film ends up being overly simplistic and disjointed. Where a filmmaker like Michael Moore usually tries to make his point, "manipulating" information to support his views (with a sense of humor to boot), Redford tries to present a "serious important film" that falls under it's own pretenses. The film ends up being redeemed by the wonderful Meryl Streep that is, as always, the best thing in the film. Tom Cruise creates an interesting character, but nothing as galvanizing as previous performances that he has given.