March 15, 2012

Movie Review Roundup

"Seeking Justice"

"Seeking Justice" is an utterly ridiculous Nicolas Cage thriller that probably wouldn't even make a top ten list of the most utterly ridiculous Nicolas Cage thrillers of the last five years. That's a testament to how generic and forgettable it is, and also to Cage's propensity for making lots of movies in that genre.

With a title, and premise too, that sounds like it could've been a 1990 Steven Seagal film, "Seeking Justice," directed by middle-brow veteran Roger Donaldson, more resembles a latter-period Liam Neeson revenge film, with Cage playing the part instead.

Set in New Orleans but missing the delightful, anarchic nuttiness of earlier Cage picture "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans," "Seeking Justice" stars the actor as Gerard, an English teacher whose wife his raped earlier in the film.

Waiting in the hospital, Cage is a approached by a mysterious man (Guy Pearce) who offers to kill the perpetrator, no questions asks, and not even for money. Why he'd need to ask permission is unclear, but the rest of the film finds Cage doing battle with a shadowy consortium of vigilantes, a sort of cross between the Guardian Angels and the Church of Scientology.

The premise is silly and the execution poor, and the characters' motivations rarely make sense. In particular, the movie has next to no interest in the wife character; she's raped and then the movie just sort of forgets about her. That she's played by the worst actress of her generation (January Jones) is only part of the problem.

"Seeking Justice" is just as bad as most of what Cage has been doing lately, but doesn't offer any of the campy delight of "The Wicker Man" or "Drive Angry."

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen"

One of those movies that's about exactly what its title says it's about, "Salmon Fishing in the Yemen" extends- pardon the pun- a wide net. It's one part romantic comedy, one part nature travelogue, one part globalization parable and one part cynical, "In the Loop"-style British political satire. In all, it's inoffensive but rather forgettable.

Ewan McGregor plays an English fisheries expert who's brought in on a cockamamie scheme by a billionaire Yemeni oil sheik to import thousands of fish from England to his homeland. Emily Blunt is the employee of some sort of financial consortium who is facilitating the deal, and the two later develop chemistry.

"Salmon Fishing in the Yemen," directed by Lasse Hallstrom, was adapted from a popular-in-Britiain novel that I gather was a much sharper political satire on the page. One character, an advisor to the prime minister played by Kristin Scott Thomas, seems like she stepped right out of "In the Loop," and is far and away the most interesting character in the movie.

Still, you can tell the material has been significantly sanded down- the movie doesn't have a whole lot to say about globalization or East/West relations, and there's next to no cursing or sex.

The romance between the two leads is sweet, but ultimately not very memorable.

"Casa Di Mi Padre"

Well, don't ever say Will Ferrell stayed safe or didn't take any risks. He stars in this entirely Spanish-language comedy as a Mexican rancher who gets caught up in the drug trade.

The film, directed by Matt Piedmont, has one joke and its one that gets tiresome quickly. But the movie has a whole lot of laughs, mostly because it stays wholly committed to the bit. A parody of telenovelas and Mexico-set Westerns of the past, the film is just 84 minutes.

There's also a standout supporting that includes both male stars of "Y Tu Mama Tambien" (Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna), as well as Ron Swanson (Nick Offerman) and gorgeous newcomer Genesis Rodriguez.

"Casa Di Mi Padre" won't join the list of Ferrell's best films, but it's very funny and a worthy diversion.

"Jeff Who Lives at Home"

I saw this one last fall at the Philadelphia Film Festival; my review from back then:

The latest from Mumblecore auteurs Mark and Jay Duplass isn't a whole lot better than the rest of their work. Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Judy Greer are three funny and likable people not given a chance to be funny or likable, and the film's ending is especially embarrassing.

Posted by Stephen Silver at March 15, 2012 04:34 PM
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