THE ITALIAN JOB
: A decent matinee, but nothing to write home about. Not a single unpredictable thing occurs for the entire running time, but it's likable thanks to the terrific supporting cast. Especially outstanding is Mos Def who, after this and Bamboozled
and a few other small roles, is proving to be an even better actor than he is a rapper. Jason Statham and Seth Green have some quality moments, and Charlize Theron shows a bit more range than is necessary for the role -- a similar performance to (if not as deep as) The Devil's Advocate
. Only Wahlberg and Norton come off as bland and coasting. The third act action scene is worth the price of admission, as the car chase is -- for my money -- more exciting (having no CGI) than the over-CGed one in The Matrix Reloaded
. Unfortunately hack helmsman F. Gary Gray does nothing artistic with his direction and refuses to add any layers of intelligence to an already dumbed-down script with bad dialogue.
CAPTURING THE FRIEDMANS
: A disturbing documentary that tells a hell of a story. It's best not knowing too much about the case before you see it, so to avoid spoilers I'll leave things as vague as possible. What works great is that there are endless twists in this doc -- the way director Andrew Jarecki has structured it, you get jacked around in one direction after another with each new piece of evidence. There have been better films about the unknowable truth (see the Coens last, The Man Who Wasn't There
), but at least this one poses more questions than it answers, which is always the mark of a good flick. However, Jarecki's none-too-subtle manipulations (going back once too often to some grainy stock footage of a little girl dancing, shock cutting to reveal one character's already-predictable homosexuality, etc.) hurt the movie's impartiality. At times a condemnation of Reagan-era hysteria and at other times a quiet portrait of a fucked-up family getting more fucked-up, Capturing the Friedmans
is recommended viewing but it's seldom entertaining.