The Must See films in theaters this week remain Inside Job and The Social Network. Hereafter and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest are also good choices.
Charles Ferguson’s brilliant documentary Inside Job may be the most important movie of the year. It is a harsh but fair explanation of the misdeeds that led to the recent near-collapse of the global financial system. Unexpectedly, the film begins in Iceland, setting the stage for the collapse and kicking off the easily understandable explanations of the various tricks and bamboozles that have hidden behind their own complexity.
Hereafter: For the first time, Clint Eastwood and screenwriter Peter Morgan (The Queen, Frost/Nixon, The Damned United) venture into the supernatural with the story of three people and their individual experiences with death. The most skeptical, nonspiritual viewer (me) finds this to be a compelling film.
The question of What Comes Next is unanswered, and less interesting than the film’s observations of what happens on this Earth to living humans. Eastwood’s genius is in delivering moments of complete truthfulness, one after the other, across a wide range of settings, from intimate human encounters to the big CGI-enhanced action sequence at the beginning of the film. Eastwood is an actor’s director, and star Matt Damon leads a set of excellent performances, especially by Bryce Dallas Howard, Frankie McLaren, Cecile de France and Richard Kind.
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest is an acceptable final chapter in Stieg Larsson’s Millenium trilogy and best as the showcase for Noomi Rapace’s final performance as Lisbeth Salander. If you’ve seen the first two movies, you should complete the trilogy by seeing this somewhat plodding film. As with the first two films, Hornet’s Nest centers on Rapace’s Lisbeth, a tiny fury of a Goth hacker, damaged and driven. Lisbeth is always mad AND always gets even.
The Social Network: The birth story of Facebook is a riveting tale of college sophomores that are brilliant, ambitious, immature, self-absorbed and disloyal – and about to become zillionaires. It’s a triumph for actor Jesse Eisenberg (Adventureland, Zombieland and Solitary Man), director David Fincher (Fight Club, Zodiac) and screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, The West Wing, Charlie Wilson’s War). It’s already on my list of Best Movies of 2010 – So Far.
Leaving (Partir) is a romantic tragedy with another powerful performance by Kristin Scott Thomas and not much else. Howl has a fine performance by James Franco, but is marred by an unsuccessful animation. The Town is hanging around theaters and, without strongly recommending it, I can say that it is a satisfying Hollywood thriller.
For trailers and other choices, see Movies to See Right Now.
I have not yet seen Welcome to the Rileys, which is just opening. This Sundance hit features James Gandolfini as a Midwestern plumbing contractor who visits New Orleans for a conference, meets teen runaway Kristin Stewart, and decides to stay. I also haven’t seen Fair Game, the Valerie Plame/Joe Wilson story. You can see the trailers at Movies I’m Looking Forward To.
My DVD of the Week is I’ve Loved You So Long. My top two American films of the year are now available on DVD – the indie Winter’s Bone and Pixar’s Toy Story 3. For my recent DVD choices (including trailers), see DVDs of the Week.
Movies on TV include The Best Years of Our Lives, Harlan County U.S.A., The Crimson Kimono and Picnic at Hanging Rock on TCM. More on The Crimson Kimono tomorrow.