Film » Film Clips

Film Clips

Amazing Grace, Black Snake Moan, Bridge to Terabithia

by

comment

Page 2 of 3

BREACH Though lacking the breadth and complexity of this past winter's The Good Shepherd, Breach is another dour cloak and dagger thriller set within the corridors of one of America's omniscient law enforcement agencies. In this case, it's the FBI, and the subject is the true-life saga of the apprehension of agent Robert Hanssen, who in 2001 was brought down for his role as a longtime spy for the Russians. The superb Chris Cooper plays Hanssen, who's presented as a deeply religious man with a disdain for homosexuals, strong-willed women (Hillary Clinton rates a diss) and many of his peers at the bureau. He's assigned a clerk named Eric O'Neill (Ryan Phillippe), not realizing that the young man is a budding agent who's been ordered by his superior (Laura Linney) to spy on him and collect any potentially incriminating evidence. Apparently adhering closer to the facts than many Hollywood fictionalizations (director and co-writer Billy Ray even works in Hanssen's fetish for secretly filming and writing about his sexual encounters with his unsuspecting wife), Breach is competent without being particularly distinguished, with Cooper working hard to provide any psychological subtext to the story behind the headlines. As the green Eric, Phillippe is adequate, though if there's any variance between his performances in Crash, Flags of Our Fathers and this film, I must have blinked and missed it. **1/2

HANNIBAL RISING This prequel to the myriad Hannibal Lecter titles now lining DVD shelves hits theaters reeking of "cash-in-quick sequel," so it's somewhat shocking to note that, for a good while anyway, its creators actually make a go out of creating something beyond the expected. Director Peter Webber, who earned kudos for his Johannes Vermeer sorta-biopic Girl With a Pearl Earring, lavishes painterly attention to the film's look (cinematographer Ben Davis shares the credit), while writer Thomas Harris (who apparently wrote the recently released novel concurrent with the screenplay) takes great pains to fill in the backstory on the cannibalistic serial killer and how the events in his youth -- WWII-era through the early 1950s -- turned him into a human monster. Unfortunately, after a fairly gripping first half, the movie devolves into a routine rip-off of Death Wish, with the youthful Hannibal (played by Gaspard Ulliel) exacting his bloody revenge on those who abused him years earlier and thereby turned him into the killing machine he eventually became. Rhys Ifans is effective as the sneering heavy, Gong Li adds understated concern as the woman who takes Hannibal under her wing, and Dominic West functions as the audience surrogate in the role of the kindly police inspector who seeks to understand Hannibal even as he tries to stop him. **

MUSIC AND LYRICS Assembly line romantic comedies often rise or fall based on the stars at their center, and Music and Lyrics is lucky to have both Drew Barrymore and Hugh Grant (as opposed to, say, Kate Hudson and Matthew McConaughey) offering their services to the soggy premise. The perpetually perky (but rarely tiresome) Barrymore is a constant beam of sunshine in practically all her film appearances (God forbid she ever gets cast as Joan of Arc), while Grant is more entertaining playing charming rakes (About a Boy) rather than out-and-out rotters (American Dreamz). Here, they're both allowed to cater to their strengths, and even if they never quite click as a romantic couple -- admittedly a huge flaw in a movie released on Valentine's Day -- their individual personalities make up enormous stretches of terrain. Grant stars as Alex Fletcher, a former 80s pop star who's commissioned by current music diva Cora Corman (Haley Bennett) to write a new hit song for her. Alex's forte is in the melody, not the lyrics, so he ends up asking quirky Sophie Fisher (Barrymore), the woman who waters his plants, to help him on that end. Writer-director Marc Lawrence doesn't deviate much from the expected template (boy and girl meet cute, love cute, break up ugly and reconcile cute), but he includes a surprisingly generous number of laugh-out-loud lines, something I never expected from the guy who penned (among other chuckle-free affairs) Miss Congeniality and Two Weeks Notice. **1/2

Add a comment

Trending in the Alternative Press