Tag Archive: sam rockwell


7-psychopaths

Dir. Martin McDonagh
(2012, R, 110 minutes)

In my review of Martin McDonagh‘s In Bruges I wrote, “It’s a black comedy that works when it’s black but not so much when it’s trying to be a comedy.” His followup, Seven Psychopaths, has the same problem, but all of it is trying to be a comedy, so none of it works. It’s grisly in its violence, but so glib in its execution – in every sense of the word – that no one in it or anything that happens to them seems to matter to the filmmaker. It’s nihilistic, lacking empathy and purpose.

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The Unsung Heroes of 2009

Joseph Gordon-Levitt, in '(500) Days of Summer'Tilda Swinton, in 'Julia'Isabella Rossellini, in 'Two Lovers'Michael Sheen, in 'The Damned United'

As I set out to consider film’s unsung heroes of 2009, I look across lists of honored film achievements from the previous calendar year and ask myself, were any of 2009’s heroes sung? As I noted when listing my favorite films of 2009, I think the Academy largely missed the mark, choosing a lot of respectable films and performances at the expense of outstanding ones. Consider, for instance, Morgan Freeman and Matt Damon, splendid actors both,  nominated for their serviceable performances in the rugby-cures-racism drama Invictus, but in the case of Damon, it wasn’t even his better performance that year.

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Robert Downey Jr., in 'Iron Man'

Dir. Jon Favreau
(2010, PG-13, 124 min)
★ ★

Either I’ve changed since 2008 or Tony Stark has. In the first Iron Man film, I remember being charmed by the billionaire arms manufacturer, a vainglorious man-child who approached superheroism like a playground. But in Iron Man 2 he’s much less charming. His brashness has become shtick. He’s not just making a spectacle of himself, he’s making a spectacle of being a spectacle, self-consciously showing off like it’s a marketing ploy. Step right up and behold Tony Stark’s ego! He wisecracks at Congressional hearings. He recklessly drives his own race car. He jumps out of a plane and lands on stage at his own weapons expo in full regalia, and when he takes off his armor his tuxedo is still well-pressed and his hair still perfectly coifed. “I’m an incorrigible brat, but that’s why you love me,” he seems to tell us. I’m not sure I even like him this time around.

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Sam Rockwell, in 'Moon'

Dir. Duncan Jones
(2009, R, 97 min)
★ ★ ★ ½

When Moon starts, we know exactly what it’s going to be about. We’re happy to be wrong. Set in the near future, an energy company called Lunar Industries mines Helium-3 on the surface of the moon. The lunar installation is run by a single man, Sam Bell (Sam Rockwell), with the help of GERTY, an artificial intelligence who seems a little too pacifying not to be evil. It’s voiced by Kevin Spacey, who sounds like Kevin Spacey doing an impression of HAL 9000. We spend the first third of the film waiting for him to say, “I’m sorry, Sam, I’m afraid I can’t do that.”

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The Unsung Heroes of 2008

Highlighting those overlooked performances from 2008 that deserved greater accolades.

Asia Argento, in 'The Last Mistress'
ASIA ARGENTO
The Last Mistress

Set in 19th Century France, Catherine Breillat’s film is not about love — it’s about addiction. Because as played by Argento, Spanish seductress Vellini is not a romantic heroine but a creature of obsessive need and hunger. The actress shows ferocious commitment in a performance that ventures into some of the ugliest realms of human desire. She is frequently nude, but it is her emotional nakedness that distinguishes her.

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On DVD: “Snow Angels”

Sam Rockwell and Kate Beckinsale, in 'Snow Angels'

Dir. David Gordon Green
(R) ★ ★ ★ ★

We’re hooked from the opening scene. During winter in an unspecified small town, a marching band listens to what is meant to be an inspiring speech from their band leader (Tom Noonan). “Will you be my sledgehammer?” he asks them, with an improbably straight face. Band members Arthur (Michael Angarano) and Warren (Connor Paolo) snicker to each other. Then BLAM! BLAM! Two loud noises in the distance. Gunshots? Yes, gunshots. In a town this small the sound likely reverberates all the way to the city limits. The remainder of the film will recount the events that lead inexorably to those shots.

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