There is only one thing not to love about Martin Brest’s Scent of a Woman: the very serious hunk of jarlsberg that must be downed while watching it. Certainly, the film reeks of early 1990s overwritten performance-vehicle sentimental pieces of cheese whiz. But that goes down much better if you take it with a grain of salt. Read on…
A solid if unoriginal indie flick with moving performances and a tight, quirky script is what I had hoped to see at the movies. Instead, I saw Sunshine Cleaning, which plays like an idea trying desperately hard to find a story.
The film follows Rose Lorkowski, played by Amy Adams, a down on her luck single mother in Albuquerque who makes ends meat by cleaning houses. Rose’s sister, Norah, is a former punk-kid who never grew up, can’t hold down a job, and lives with their idiosyncratic father, played with respectable charm by Alan Arkin. When Rose’s police officer boyfriend, who is married, tells her how much money there is to be made in cleaning up messy crime scenes, a lightbulb goes off and the tiny glint of a plot begins to form. Of course, the two sisters start a business cleaning up crime scenes while dealing with their own emotional hangups.
Duplicity opens quietly at an embassy soirée in Dubai. Clive Owen barely approaches Julia Roberts at the margherita table when we are thrust into this svelte little caper. Director Tony Gilroy, still glowing from the success of Michael Clayton, returns with his crack team (we’ll get to them) to create what this humble critic believes is the best major release of 2009 so far.
Mr. Owen and Ms. Roberts play Ray Koval and Claire Stenwick, two former state spies who take corporate intel positions at competing household products firms, Equikrom and Burkett & Randle (B & R). When B & R leaks the existence of a top secret project, the game is on to see who can get to the spoils first. That is really all I can put down here to keep the film interesting for you, so let’s dive into the meat of it. Keep Reading at the candler blog.
This film was added to the queue in anticipation of Ed Zwick’s Defiance, which I ended up seeing and hating enough to add a few dozen other DVDs to the top position in the meantime. I’m pretty tough on Mr. Zwick, especially after the disaster of The Last Samulrai, but Blood Diamond, which is flanked by those two terrible releases, is something else entirely. Certainly, the movie is full of his own bombastic style: things blow up, women bring redemption to men, and there are plenty of tears and soppy music. However, this is a film with a true heart, and a message that is seemingly more vital than most political dramatizations that are released while a conflict rages on.
The story follows two men, Daniel Archer and Solomon Vandy. The first is a white diamond smuggler and self-proclaimed soldier of fortune played by Leonardo DiCaprio. The second, played by Djimon Hounsou, is a black fisherman who becomes entangled in both Sierra Leone’s civil war and the international diamond trade when his village is attacked by rebels. They are both African, and that is the point.
It seems as though Mr. Zwick sets out to make Gone With The Wind on every outing. He finds singular bits of schmaltz amid nations brought to the brink of armageddon and uses them as his macguffin to, well, blow a bunch of shit up and teach us all a lesson by the end of the pummeling. If ever this tactic works, it works best in Blood Diamond. Most of where this film stands apart is in the actind. Mr. DiCaprio and Mr. Hounsou bring a great deal of heart to the table. Archer as the cold hearted cynic who, surprise, lightens up a bit by the end, and Vandy as the loving man-child who dreams for a simpler world, where he could live in peace with his family.
My favorite moments in this film is a scene where Archer must pretend to be a journalist and Vandy must pose as his cameraman so that they may get a free ride towards the giant diamond around which the film centers. Bear in mind, at the point, Vandy has lost his family, his home, and he has very litttle to gain by finding the diamond anyhow. Still, he pulls Archer aside and yells at him “I cannot do this!” He is referring to lying. The scene is both heart-warming and heart breaking, but in the end I found myself chuckling. The film would be better with more of this, but that is all we get.
I absolutely recommend giving this one a viewing if you haven’t yet.
I’ve been looking forward to Tony Gilroy’s followup to his incredible Michael Clayton ever since I hot wind of it. Apparently, I’m not alone. The 6:30 show I tried to go to was sold out, as is this 7:35 show. It’s packed and there was a line when I got here at 6:50. I’m going into this blind ( haven’t read any reviews) so I’m really excited. Congrats Tony Gilroy. Now let’s just hope I like this one, I’ll let you know tomorrow.