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Street Kings Review


Good
Cops countermanding the law, using the close-knit nature of their badge to secretly settle scores on the street, have long since become a cinematic cliché. The police have gone from donut-munching jokes to felons in blue and black finery. From the decent beat officer taking bribes to buffer his paycheck, to the undercover operative in so deep he no longer remembers what side of society he's on, "to protect and serve" has been modified -- at least in the movies -- to "pervert and steal." Street Kings, the latest motion picture inspired by a story from James Ellroy (L.A. Confidential), dabbles freely in this kind of corrupt no man's land, and for the most part, it's a thrilling journey.

Alcoholic police detective Todd Ludlow (Keanu Reeves) has just finished wrapping up a notorious kidnapping case when Captain Jack Wander (Forest Whittaker) gives him the bad news. His ex-partner Terrence Washington (Terry Crews) is talking to Internal Affairs, and bureau head Captain James Biggs (Hugh Laurie) is looking to take Ludlow down. Before he can intimidate his former friend into not snitching, a pair of gang bangers kill him. Desperate to clear his own name in the death, Ludlow begins to investigate. Soon, he's linking the crime to a couple of local drug dealers who seem incapable of committing the hit. With Wander on his side and Biggs on his back, it will take all the street savvy he has to solve the case -- that is, if someone doesn't try and permanently stop him too.

Continue reading: Street Kings Review

Eulogy Review


OK
Michael Clancy's Eulogy is sort of a sitcom version of The Royal Tenenbaums, with its estranged family united by a dying (well, in this case, dead) patriarch who no one particularly likes (played here, briefly, by Rip Torn). The most sympathetic and grounded member of the family is Kate (Zooey Deschanel); she is chosen to deliver her grandfather's eulogy, and must extract scarce fond memories from her father Daniel (Hank Azaria) and his siblings Skip, Lucy, and Alice (Ray Romano, Kelly Preston, and Debra Winger, respectively).

Standard black-comedy stuff, then, though not without promise. Clancy doesn't have a strong directorial touch, operating only a level or two above the point-and-shoot techniques of an actual sitcom -- and a little lower when it comes to the laugh-track ready entrances and exits. But he does capture the feel -- the shabby decor, the lines of cereal boxes, the personal trepidation -- of a reluctant and unkempt family gathering. The Collins family is trapped in the family home until the funeral is over, foraging for emotional connections purely out of necessity. Whether this authenticity is achieved through close observation or a low budget is not immediately apparent; regardless, Eulogy's distaff family unit is more or less convincing -- as a whole, at least.

Continue reading: Eulogy Review

Man On Fire (2004) Review


Good
An overstuffed, pricey, and smashingly gorgeous bag for a variety pack of clichés, Man on Fire represents director Tony Scott taking somewhat of a step backwards after fun, spry thrillers Spy Game and Enemy of the State; but damn if he doesn't try his hardest to make it all mean something.

In the film (a remake of a 1987 flick of the same name) Denzel Washington coasts through his role as John Creasy, your average ex-undercover operative now saddled with a drinking problem and a yen for his own death. His buddy from the bad old days, Rayburn (Christopher Walken), now a wealthy Mexican businessman of ill repute, gets Creasy a job as bodyguard for the nine-year-old daughter of Mexico City industrialist Samuel Ramos (Marc Anthony). The average parent might have noticed that Creasy might not have been the best man for the job, seeing as he drinks, is temperamental with the daughter, and tries to off himself one lonely night. But the girl herself, Pita (Dakota Fanning), takes to crusty old Creasy anyway, saying to her mother (Radha Mitchell) that "he's like a big, sad bear" and filling her notebook with moony scribblings about how much she loves him. Creasy finally warms up to Pita, an irresistibly personable ball of energy as played by Fanning, who also brings a powerfully adult presence to her scenes with Washington, complementing his character's world-weariness: they're like the only two adults in a world full of corrupt, venal teenagers.

Continue reading: Man On Fire (2004) Review

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Lucas Foster Movies

Eulogy Movie Review

Eulogy Movie Review

Michael Clancy's Eulogy is sort of a sitcom version of The Royal Tenenbaums, with its...

Man on Fire (2004) Movie Review

Man on Fire (2004) Movie Review

An overstuffed, pricey, and smashingly gorgeous bag for a variety pack of clichés, Man on...

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