Knee-jerk Round-up

The Kingdom
1. An interesting movie in that it tries to have it both ways - inciting some simple-minded, anti-Arab American bloodlust with the shoot-em-up gunfights while also suggesting that the Middle East situation is, like, you know, complex with by daring to show the Saudis are people, too. The action movie meets the arthouse drama. It doesn't quite succeed at either. But you have to give it points to trying.
2. The Cheese Fry isn't sure what the big deal is with Jennifer Garner.
3. No way they surive that alleyway ambush. Seriously.
4. Chris Cooper always gives an interesting performance.
5. Inside joke: Jamie Foxx gives an onscreen shout-out to his real hometown of Terrell, Texas. Yee haw, y'all.
6. Clever bit: you can always spot a bombmaker because he's missing fingers.
7. Nice set-up and pay-off with the lollipops.
8. Don't you wish in the real world someone would insult the U.S. Attorney General like that?

The Brave One
1. That one scene in the cafeteria with Jodie Foster and Terrence Howard is worth the price of admission. Brilliantly written, directed, acted. One of those great scenes where what they're talking about isn't what they're really talking about.
2 Nicky Katt's always fun to watch.
3. Not exactly sure what point this movie is making about vigilantism. It may destroy your psychic soul, but some thugs deserve it anyway? Don't try this at home because it's bad, but have a good time watching someone else do it?
4. The ending pretty much goes off the rail and undermines a lot of what we've known about the two main characters. Disappointing. Going or the big catharsis whether it makes logical sense or not.
5. It may be flawed, but the movie's better and more intelligent than most films. Jodie Foster - with the exception of 2005's unfortunate Flightplan - knows how to pick projects.
6. "I want my dog back." Cheesy, predictable, eye-rolling money line. And very effective.
7. The brutal attack that starts the movie is very tough to watch. We get it, the bad guys are bad and deserve Jodie's wrath. Enough is enough. Have mercy on us, director Neil Jordan.
8. Come on, seriously? Jodie Foster's occupation is a talk show commentator?! Yeah, that's an everyman sort of job. No one in movies are ever databasemanagers or air condition repairmen.

3:10 to Yuma
1. One of the best movies of the year. Oscar worthy, people. For real.
2. The ending may stretch credibility in some ways, but as a Cheese Fry colleague noted, you really do have to look at it as myth or melodrama. This is a big story of Good and Evil told on a big, sprawling canvas. It's not a documentary.
3. Russell Crowe is very good. But Christian Bale is even better - and he's got the less showy role.
4. Get thee to a cinema and see it.

The Invasion
1. If you want to make a zombie movie, make a zombie movie. Don't be ashamed. Don't dress it up as a pod person movie. You're not fooling anyone.
2. We've seen all of this before - and done much better. Case in point: the projectile vomiting of the infected, which is a steal from 28 Days Later.
3. There's something... plastic about Nicole Kidman. And she's getting more and more plastic as the years go by, it seems. The charming humanity of Moulin Rouge is but a distant memory these days.
4. Naturally, the cure to the "invasion" is in the blood of our heroine's son thanks to a rare disease. And her ex-husband is a bigwig at the CDC. Yeah, it's that kind of movie.
5. For about 10 minutes, the film gives you a hint of what it could have been as Nicole Kidman must try to "pass" as a pod person (quietly assisted by other secretly uninfected humans who are "passing") among crowds of pop people by showing no emotion. Truly terrifying.

* All you need to know if this: for the first 3/4 of the movie, this is the kind of smart, suspenseful, plausible science fiction movie they just don't make anymore. It's just this side of brilliant...
* ...and then the wheels come completely off in the final 20 minutes with such unexpected suddenness that you're left completely stunned. Did that just happen? It's a terrible thing to do to a good movie.
* Cillian Murphy is too feminine and weird-looking to be a good guy. You keep figuring he'll snap and kill everyone.

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