Month: January 2009
Claistrophobia can be a key part of a suspense film. Whether you’re trapped in an old house or in a small town, that feeling can always creep up on you. Transsiberian is about a young couple (Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer) who are traveling back to the United States from China and take the Trans-Siberian line through Russia. During their journey, they meet this mysterious younger couple. The younger man is very friendly, but has a past. He was a drug trafficker. His little girlfriend (Kate Mara) has been making sure that he doesn’t go back to that path, he however has some nesting dolls that are actually made out of drugs. I can’t say anymore about the plot without saying any spoilers, but I can say that this is one of the best suspense films of the last decade. Very much in the style of Agatha Christie and Arthur Conan Doyle, this claustophobic drama takes its time never jumping the gun at any moment. This movie reminded me a lot of Murder on the Orient Express, with it’s great storytelling and fantastic cast. Sir Ben Kingsley co-stars as a police officer and he, the great actor that he is, is totally and utterly believable. Though the film is not entirely fast paced, you WILL be sitting on the edge of your seat as the mystery unravels and you get closer to the end. The performances are fantastic and the cinematography great. A real thriller that doesn’t skimp on storytelling or acting or directing. This is without a doubt, one if the best suspense dramas I have ever seen.
While some may see it horrifying to identify with and empathize with a serial killer, think about this: we have no trouble empathizing with any other vigilante like Batman or Spider-Man. So why is it so hard to do it with a killer? Is it merely the idea that he is a killer? That is understandable. Dexter Morgan (a brilliant Michael C. Hall) is a forensics investigator for the Miami Police Department. Specifically, he works with blood splatter. He is quite execellent at his job. But Dexter has a dark side, a very dark one indeed. Dexter is a serial killer. As a kid he would get an urge to kill. But Dexter isn’t your average murderer. He has a Code of Honor. He only kills other crime offenders. That includes rapists, murders (ironically), pedophiles, and other serious offenders. The show, which is based on a series of books (the first being Darkly Dreaming Dexter), is extremely well written and portrayed in an unbiased manner, which is impressive for the subject matter. As graphic as some may assume it is, it isn’t as bad as I thought. It us significantly tamer than torture porn pictures like Hostel or Saw. One thing I like about this show is how it raises provocative questions without rubbing it in your face. How can we agree or identify with a murderer? Even though he IS killing bad people, does that justify it? My answer is irrelovent but it is a good topic of discussion after you see it. Michael C. Hall is fantastic as Dexter. The character doesn’t feel any emotion, very similar to that of Patrick Bateman in the novel (by Bret Easton Ellis) and film American Psycho. Not only is an interesting pycho-drama, it’s also a fantastic crime procederal. It’s filled with great mystery and suspense and their cliff-hangers want to make you watch the show, but not in an obsessive way that makes you scream at a new revalation. A great show you’ll want to commit to.
He is the Man of Steel. Well, sort of. He is rich, powerful, and has brains. He is weapons designer Tony Stark. When in Iraq, he is held hostage and made to create an out of this world missile. Instead, he creates this crude predecessor to the Iron Man suit. It looks like the Tin Man on steroids. He is Iron Man. That’s right, Robert Downey Jr is back. First this action packed super hero movie and then his hilarious turn as the Method Actor in Tropic Thunder. The story is relatively simple; Stark Industries CEO Tony Stark is a weapons engineer, creating the best guns, missiles, and anything else possible that can blow up. He is apparently a very smart guy. While in Iraq, Stark is kidnapped and is made to create a super weapon for the enemy. Instead, he begins work on a suit that can withstand bullets and shoot rockets. What it ends up being is a very crude version of the Iron Man suit. Before he was kidnapped, he supported ignorantly the supply and business of weapons but while in captivity he realizes he no longer wants to create things that just kill or hurt, that he wants to make things that also help. This turn of events creates an air of ease throughout the film making it action packed without being mindless. Tony Stark begins creating the ultimate suit. It has a computer and a state of the art interface. It is the greatest of all weapons. The villain is actually a colleague of Stark’s. He wants to make an even better version. Stark’s assistant is Pepper Pots played elegantly by Gwyneth Paltrow. The character could have easily been a blond (or in this case red head) bimbo, but with her charisma, Paltrow makes Pepper cool without being too gushingly involved with Tony. Robert Downey Jr. is ecellent as Stark. He’s smart and cool and these characteristics are embodied into the character. The movie itself is probably the best comic-book film ever. The story isn’t too complex but at the same time, not too dumbed down for viewers. The action sequences are well choreographed and extremely entertaining and not too violent. The visual effects are quite amazing and the Iron Man suit is really cool. I am exceptionally impressed by this film and advise all those who love action movies or comic book films to see this movie.