Daniel Pyne

Daniel Pyne

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Fracture Review


Weak
It is hardly a reassuring sign when one of the more interesting things in a film is not even sentient. Over the title sequence of Fracture, and in the midst of some of the duller stretches (of these there are many) we see a glittering sort of Rube Goldberg contraption, all shiny metallic tracks and carved wooden wheels, where small glass balls skitter and roll in an elaborately choreographed dance. It's a beautiful piece of elegant machinery and, one hopes, symbolic of the many complex and artfully managed plot twists to come. Instead, what we're given is Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling sleepwalking around each other as they navigate through one of the year's laziest films.

Fracture has no excuse to be so lazy, given the actors at its disposal and a setup that should have made this an easy slam-dunk. Hopkins plays Ted Crawford, an aeronautics engineer who's found out that his wife Jennifer (Embeth Davidtz) is having an affair with police detective Rob Nunally (Billy Burke). Confronting her at home, Crawford shoots her in the head and calmly waits for the cops to arrive. When they do, it's with none other than Nunally at the lead, who's shocked and enraged at finding Jennifer in a pool of blood and Crawford standing there as though nothing had happened. After a quickly-interrupted beating from Nunally, Crawford later confesses and even waives his right to a lawyer. When it's all dropped in the lap of assistant district attorney Willy Beachum (Gosling), the case couldn't seem more airtight, which is good since Beachum can't wait to slip the bonds of lowly civil employment for a well-paying private sector job.

Continue reading: Fracture Review

Where's Marlowe? Review


Good
If you're going to make yet another mockumentary of something, it's good to pick a topic that hasn't been done to death, at least, and that's where Where's Marlowe? manages to succeed. Parroting the private eye genre, with Miguel Ferrer as our Sam Spade wannabe, a documentary crew follows him around until it becomes obvious he is so hapless that he is going to lose his whole business. To salvage the situation, the crew decides to join Ferrer's crew and help him finish his last few cases -- ensuring they still have a movie but breaking the detached and unbiased role of a documentary crew. Up until this point, the movie's a lot of silly fun, goofing on both documentary and P.I. cliches with aplomb. But after this point the movie becomes all about the actual case... alternately meaningless, confusing, and just plain stupid. Where's Marlowe? Who cares?

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) Review


Extraordinary
I'm a huge fan of the original Manchurian Candidate, so naturally I approached Jonathan Demme's redo with some amount of trepidation. In this, the year of the shoddy remake, we've already seen such hack jobs as The Stepford Wives, The Big Bounce, and The Punisher, among a half-dozen or so updates. The catch of course is that the original Manchurian is a classic. If Demme screwed it up, it wouldn't be the same as if he'd botched a Dolph Lundgren movie.

With a heavy sigh of relief I'm happy to report that Demme's done right by the original. Demme takes the best of the 1962 movie, updates it appropriately for the corporate power-trip of the 2000s, and puts some spin into the plot, so even if you watched the original on DVD last week, you still won't be able to guess how this one will end.

Continue reading: The Manchurian Candidate (2004) Review

The Sum Of All Fears Review


Weak
The biggest mystery in The Sum of All Fears is not how terrorists manage to smuggle a nuclear bomb into downtown Baltimore. Rather, it's how CIA operative Jack Ryan, formerly played by Alec Baldwin and Harrison Ford, has suddenly become 30 years younger and has turned into a junior agent at the CIA with only a few months of experience. In the hands of Ben Affleck, Ryan is no longer the commanding veteran he once was in films like Patriot Games. Now he's little more than a jerky teenager with a hot girlfriend and a chip on his shoulder.

I won't try to explain the metamorphosis of Ryan because it's never mentioned in the movie (and no, it's not a prequel; the film takes place in the present). Central to the plot is the hunt for an old nuclear bomb lost by the Israelis in 1973 and recovered, sold, and rebuilt by various arms dealers, terrorists, and neo-Nazi groups decades later. Their idea is to blow up the bomb in the U.S., blame it on the Russians, ignite a massive nuclear response from both sides, and -- in the greatest stretch of imagination ever to strike a Hitler enthusiast -- somehow survive WWIII and seize control of the world in the aftermath.

Continue reading: The Sum Of All Fears Review

Daniel Pyne

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John Krasinski Used His Experience To Make The Hollars

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In a busy year that has seen John Krasinski star in movies and TV shows, he somehow managed to find the time to direct, produce and star in the new...

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Daniel Pyne Movies

Fracture Movie Review

Fracture Movie Review

It is hardly a reassuring sign when one of the more interesting things in a...

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The Manchurian Candidate (2004) Movie Review

The Manchurian Candidate (2004) Movie Review

I'm a huge fan of the original Manchurian Candidate, so naturally I approached Jonathan Demme's...

The Sum of All Fears Movie Review

The Sum of All Fears Movie Review

The biggest mystery in The Sum of All Fears is not how terrorists manage to...

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