Eric Kopeloff

Eric Kopeloff

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Savages Review


Terrible

Oliver Stone takes a stab at returning to a nastier, more edgy filmmaking style, but simply can't escape his moralising ways. Indeed, this film looks great, with whizzy camerawork and kinetic editing, and a willingness to travel to some very dark places. So it's even more annoying that it's all such a cop out. Not only are the plot and characters undermined by half-hearted preachiness, but the film has an appallingly trite voice-over narration plus a climactic plot point that feels like a cheat.

The story opens with a scene of domestic bliss, as sexy beach babe O (Lively) cuddles with her hunky ex-military boyfriend Chon (Kitsch) in their spectacular seaside home in Orange County. Then Ben (Taylor) arrives home - he's Chon's best friend and O's other boyfriend, a tree-hugging scientist who has created the perfect marijuana plant. They've made their fortune as local drug dealers, and now a Mexican cartel wants in on the action. They're visited by a goon (Bichir) who makes them an offer they can't refuse. So when they Chon and Ben say no, the cartel henchman Lado (Del Toro) kidnaps O to whip boys in line. But they go into action mode instead. Calling the shots is cartel boss Elena (Hayek). And there's also a Federal agent (Travolta) working everyone against each other.

The plot has promise, and the film starts well, with sun-drenched photography and some strong character-establishing scenes with Kitsch, Johnson and Lively. But once we learn each one's main trait (Chon's tough tenacity, Ben's peace-loving passion and O's annoying stupidity), the script abandons them completely. We never have a clue why Chon and Ben would fall for O, let alone risk their lives to rescue her. We never know why Lado is such a cold-hearted brute. And we can't understand how Travolta's character has survived this long. The only person we enjoy watching is the scene-chewing Hayek, who seems to be the only actor having any fun.

Continue reading: Savages Review

Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps Review


Good
Michael Douglas returns to his most iconic role for this 20-years-later sequel to Oliver Stone's 1987 hit. Of course it couldn't be much more timely, as it dips into the current financial chaos and the drama behind the scenes.

Jake (LaBeouf) is a rising-star broker working for a Wall Street veteran (Langella). His girlfriend Winnie (Mulligan) is the estranged daughter of the legendary Gordon Gekko (Douglas), who recently completed his prison term for insider trading. But Jake's idea to reunite Winnie and her dad takes a turn when they begin a kind of teacher-student relationship. Jake then takes a job for an archrival investor (Brolin) to orchestrate his downfall. But this is 2008 and banks are starting to collapse around them. And maybe Gekko is up to his old tricks.

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W. Review


Unbearable
As President Bush's second term winds down and the race for 2008 spins at fevered pace, now is the time to make a statement -- reflecting on the failures of the current administration and projecting our hopes for the next.

Oliver Stone's W. is not that statement.

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Stay Review


Excellent
I don't see dead people, and, more than likely, I never will. Maybe one day, when I die, I'll see plenty of them but while I am of this earth, it's a no-go. This is not to say people don't see spirits, ghosts, and specters; walk down any street in Manhattan and you're likely to see a woman telling you she can see them and hold pretty strong conversation with them. Hollywood saw this and also saw dollar signs. Blame M. Night Shyamalan for most of this. He made a great movie and has spawned legions of gutter-sludge rip-offs. Once in awhile, however, we get an arty riff on this formula. The last one was Jonathan Glazer's haunting Birth, and now we have Marc Forster's hypnotic Stay.

So, this suicidal college student walks into a psychiatrist's office... no, seriously. Sam (Ewan McGregor) has the misfortune of substituting for a few sessions for a colleague (Janeane Garofalo) when she gets a little loopy with the drugs. Her first patient, and seemingly only patient, is Henry Letham (Ryan Gosling). On only their second meeting, Henry announces that he is going to kill himself in three days, at midnight. Sam spends the rest of his time, divided between his ex-patient/girlfriend (Naomi Watts) and trying to figure out why Henry wants to kill himself. And don't forget Henry's dead parents (Bob Hoskins and Kate Burton) who show up in the real world. Describing past that would be like trying to explain a Lynch film (notably Lost Highway and Mulholland Drive), and no one should have these secrets ruined.

Continue reading: Stay Review

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