Recently Rated Movies #64: Resurgence, Step the One

Before the Devil Knows You're Dead
Director: Sidney Lumet
Cinema 4 Rating: 7
Notes: This one had me tensed up for about 3/4 of its running length, and while some would say it ends unsatisfactorily, I found its ending inevitable and tailored to the atmosphere. Unique, along with both Linklater Before flicks, Sunset and Sunrise, as being part of a trio of the only films where I don't wish to travel back in time and rip out Ethan Hawke's larynx before Dead Poet's Society started filming. For once, he seems well-suited to a role. It's only coincidental he is such a stammering, ineffectual nebbish in the film. And for fans of Marisa Tomei nudity... Jeezie-Creezie, this is the film for you! (Which means me, of course...)
Reply/Purchase Meter: I could watch it again. If I were collecting Lumet, certainly. A top-notch effort for the legend, but not planning to buy it at this time. (Then again, that Tomei nudity could tip the scales the other way...)

The Brave One
Director: Neil Jordan
Cinema 4 Rating: 6
Notes: My gosh, Jodie Foster is truly a force of nature. Both in and out of this film. Setting aside how awesome I find her overall as a human being, I must admit to feeling a tad creepy watching her basically turn into Travis Bickle, though I find her motives here -- she is beaten and left for dead with her fiance by a street gang marauding a quiet park -- a little more honest than his as a gun-toting vigilante killer. I think the device here involving her work on a New York radio show is clunky at best, but her interplay with Terence Howard is the best part of the film, even if the makers wimp out on carrying it as far as it should (both the relationship and the storyline). An interesting choice for Foster, whose earlier character in Taxi Driver let Bickle take care of this problem for her. I don't know if entertaining is a word for this film, but it is certainly provocative. Just not really believable in how it sums up.
Reply/Purchase Meter: Roughly persuasive the first time; would probably melt under a second viewing. No.

Half Nelson
Director: Ryan Fleck
Cinema 4 Rating: 7
Notes: Ryan Gosling's multi-layered (and Oscar-nommed) performance aside, I actually found the short film which served as a studio pilot for Half Nelson -- Gowanus, Brooklyn (written about by me for Spout here) -- a little more intriguing than the full version. Maybe I just didn't need to know much more about the characters than I already did from the 19-minute glimpse. This is certainly a reversal on how I felt after watching Gowanus, where I did want to spend more time. Not that the characters aren't interesting, and this film is extremely watchable, but I felt like it was just too much of a padding out of a thin storyline. A slightly younger Shareeka Epps is a bit more effective in the shorter version as well.
Reply/Purchase Meter: Won't turn down future run-ins with it on cable somewhere, but renting and/or purchase are definitely out.


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