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Non-Review Review: The Duellists

The Duellists is the first film from director Ridley Scott. While it certainly isn’t his best remembered or the most highly rated, it is a cracking piece of historical cinema that manages to do a lot with very little. It’s a simple little concept, set against an epic backdrop, elevated by two leads, a wonderful sense of historical fidelity, and a young director with a long career ahead of him.

Ridley Scott's first stab at directing...

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Pete Postlethwaite

The quote from Spielberg about “probably the best actor in the world today”┬áhas been doing the rounds today, understandably, as well as Postlethwaite’s good-natured response (he remarked that it sounded like “a beer commercial”), but I think the below quote pretty much sums up my respect for Postlethwaite and his strength as an actor.

There are some moments that work. Pete Postlethwaite, as a big game hunter who flies onto the island with a second wave of dinosaur mercenaries, doesn’t step wrong; he plays a convincing if shallow character, even if he’s called upon to make lengthy speeches in speeding Jeeps, and to utter arty lines about “movable feasts” and having “spent enough time in the company of death.’‘ He alone among the major characters seems convinced that he is on an island with dinosaurs, and not merely in a special-effects movie about them.

Roger Ebert reviews Jurassic Park: The Lost World

It’s not his best role, nor his most notable. However, even then he managed to shine on the screen, and – when I think of him – that’s the quote that comes to mind. His career featured any number of fantastic films (The Usual Suspects, Inception), but he always brought his best – even when the movie probably didn’t deserve it. I won’t go on at length, because far more authoritative and eloquent individuals have already offered their feelings.

Rest in peace. You will be missed.

Non-Review Review: The Town

It’s interesting to see how well Ben Affleck has redeemed himself as a director. After seeing Gone Baby Gone two years ago, I was willing to forgive the actor his roles in bad films like Jersey Girl, Phantoms and even Daredevil. I know he did Gigli too, but I can never forgive him for that. His second film behind the camera, The Town, demonstrates that he isn’t a one-hit wonder – but I have to admit that perhaps I am a bit disappointed. It isn’t that The Town is a bad or even an average film, it’s just one that I heard so much about that I had almost psyched myself up to watch. It’s a well-made exploration of urban decay which tackles its subjects with what seems (to a guy educated and living in a different country) to be a lot more honesty and neutrality than most films on the same subject matter.

So good it's criminal?

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The Ambiguous Ending of The Usual Suspects…

This post is somewhat prompted by an interesting discussion over at MCarter’s review of The Usual Suspects, concerning the ending. Some people remarked that while they were impressed with the ambiguity of the film, they thought that the ending was just a little bit too clear cut. I have no problem with a definite ending to a film, but I’m not so sure that The Usual Suspects is as open and shut as it might seem. But wait! you protest, as someone who has seen the film, That ending was fairly clear. Maybe it was. But maybe it wasn’t.

The highest quality photo of the "real" Keyser Soze...

The highest quality photo of the "real" Keyser Soze...

Note: Seeing as how this is a discussion on the ending of The Usual Suspects, it will obviously contain spoilers on the film. Don’t read this if you haven’t seen the movie. Really. Go, rent or borrow or buy the movie, watch it and come back – and give us your thoughts. The Usual Suspects is a movie you owe it to yourself not to ruin.
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