Charles Winkler

Charles Winkler

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Survivor Review


Good

Unusually gritty and grounded, this terrorism thriller avoids the pitfalls of most overwrought action movies by creating characters and action situations that are unusually believable, even if the plot itself feels badly undercooked. The problem is that there isn't a clear sense of what's at stake here, because screenwriter Philip Shelby insists on continually blurring the mystery by withholding key details until he's ready to reveal them. So the cleverly played old-style suspense never quite pays off.

It opens at the US Embassy in London, where new security chief Kate (Milla Jovovich) has been alerted to the fact that terrorists are trying to get visas to enter America. Working with the ambassador (Angela Bassett) her team leaders (Dylan McDermott and Robert Forster), Kate narrows in on a suspicious doctor (Roger Rees) who's an expert in explosive gasses. But a shocking bombing stops her short, framing her as the villain. Now she's being chased not only by the Americans, but also a British inspector (James D'Arcy) and a ruthless assassin known as The Watchmaker (Pierce Brosnan). And Kate knows that she's the only one who can stop the nefarious plot, whatever it might be.

This is one of those films that enjoyably pushes its central character over the brink, so we can't help but root for Kate to get out of this seriously messy situation and save the day. Jovovich plays her in a plausible way as a capable woman who has no choice but to fight back and try to survive, because she's the only one who knows that she's not the real threat here. Everyone else is extremely shadowy, although McDermott gets to show a heroic side, as does the terrific Frances de la Tour as the only embassy staff member who believes that Kate is the good guy. Meanwhile, Brosnan gives a remarkably effective performance as a cold-blooded killer.

Continue reading: Survivor Review

Into The Blue 2: The Reef Review


Terrible
Into the Blue 2: The Reef sounds like soft-core porn, is made on the level of soft-core porn, and might have been more entertaining had it gone full tilt into soft-core porn territory. Not that it doesn't try -- there are more than enough pointless, random, gratuitous shots of topless beach babes to turn on any pimply-faced geek in search of female flesh and to give the movie reason to tout its salacious "Uncut, Unrated" label. Perhaps that is the point of the movie, and perhaps the distributors will make a few bucks off of that cheap ploy. More power to them, because any self-respecting individual who walks into a video store, looks at this title, and decides to rent it deserves to lose their four bucks.

Obviously, this is a sequel to the 2005 Paul Walker-Jessica Alba beach-bums-become-heroes movie. That film was one of the dumbest movies ever made, but it was released theatrically and featured actors of at least mediocre ability. Into the Blue 2 is a direct-to-DVD attempt to cash in on what the studio must think of as the "high-caliber Into the Blue brand," even though the original grossed a sparkling $18 million. This one stars Park Avenue mannequins who pose their way through a non-existent terrorist plot involving a nuclear warhead(!) and buried treasure.

Continue reading: Into The Blue 2: The Reef Review

De-Lovely Review


Very Good
In a darkened room an elderly man sits at a piano. He's barely outlined by light from a window, his face obscured in shadow. Then, a light fades up, spotlighting him, followed by light everywhere. Thus starts De-Lovely and its style of self-aware artificiality. It purports to be the life of composer Cole Porter (Kevin Kline) but there's little more here than a grand retrospective of his ingenious touch with a pop song and an attempt at scandalizing his personal, bisexual life.

Like a symphony that's incomplete because all the notes aren't available, what I didn't get out of this is a three-dimensional portrait of the subject. The show, structured as a dead or dying man's vision of his life played out like a movie and stage production, is loaded with talent and a detailed recreation of his period. The portrayal of the swank, rich life is as festive to behold as it is off-putting. The world in which Porter whirls and commands with assured, inevitable success is an alien one. Rather than feel a part of it, we are there to revel in the entertainment.

Continue reading: De-Lovely Review

Charles Winkler

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Charles Winkler Movies

Survivor Movie Review

Survivor Movie Review

Unusually gritty and grounded, this terrorism thriller avoids the pitfalls of most overwrought action movies...

De-Lovely Movie Review

De-Lovely Movie Review

In a darkened room an elderly man sits at a piano. He's barely outlined by...

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