Fall Movie Reviews - 2010

By: Mike McCrann

Finally! Summer has gone and we are starting to get some decent movies. This past season was probably the worst in years in terms of quality or even entertaining films. As most of the studios release their top stuff in the fall we can hope for many more good films.

This time I cover mainstream Hollywood fare like The Town, Easy A, and Drew Barrymore's Going The Distance, alongside indie films Animal Kingdom, Mesrine parts 1 and 2, The Sicilian Girl, and Never Let Me Go.

The Town

Ben Affleck's second film as a director is not quite as good as his first (Gone
Baby Gone
), but it is still one of the best films currently in release.

BEN The Town is a heist story filmed in Affleck's beloved Boston. Not only does Ben direct but he stars in this gritty, wonderfully paced film that features a
lot of great performances from his sizzling supporting cast. Jeremy Renner (The
Hurt Locker
) steals the film as the vicious co-leader of the thieves. Renner has
never been better or sexier than in this film. Affleck is also quite good (and
buff) in the leading role and he gets great work out of Jon Hamm and the rest of
the cast, including Rebecca Hall. I must say I have never liked Rebecca Hall in
her previous films but she is very good here. The Town is violent, sexy and fast paced.

The big news is that Ben Affleck is not a one picture wonder. If he keeps
up this kind of good work he may be the Clint Eastwood of the future in terms of
a directorial career. Both men seem to be much more talented behind the camera
than as movie stars. I will be curious to see what Ben Affleck does in his next
film— especially if it takes place outside of Boston.

Animal Kingdom

Animal This low-budget Australian film has been showing for a while in LA and other
large cities. It is a wonderful crime film that boasts one of the great supporting performances of the year.

Jacki Weaver, who has been on Australian TV and films for years, gives a sizzling performance as the crime mother from hell. It is a treat to see Weaver go from a seemingly supportive sweet mother to a raging tigress who will do anything to protect her family of criminals.

This is a good film that should have a Best Supporting Actress nomination come awards time.

Mesrine, parts 1 and 2

Mesrine This French crime film based on a famous French criminal comes loaded down with French Cesar awards and it was a box office sensation when released in 2008. It has been released in the U.S. as two separate films. Each part runs over two hours.

This film is incredibly violent but its true life tale of this
amazing man who escaped jail at least 4 times is mesmerizing to watch. French
actor Vincent Cassel (who won the French Best Actor Award) is totally amazing.

Unfortunately, Mesrine has not done very well in the U.S. As enjoyable as both parts of the film are, I think they should have combined them and made one long version for the U.S. film market.

The Sicilian Girl

Sicilian This Italian film is based on the true story of a Mafia Don's daughter who goes after the mob when her father is murdered. The film is quite exciting and well acted, and very much worth seeing. The ending is jolting and not in the way I had expected.

Veronica D'Agostino is quite powerful as the girl, and her efforts to fight centuries of Mafia control makes for an exciting and powerful film. The scene in the courtroom where she stares down each of the caged prisoners like a visitor at a zoo full of dangerous animals is mesmerizing.

If you can see it, do so!

Going The Distance

Going I love Drew Barrymore and I wanted to like this movie more than I did. It is the story of a New York couple who have to maintain their relationship when one of them moves to San Francisco.

The movie is perfectly enjoyable and Drew Barrymore really does have talent, but these middling comedies are not helping her career. The film she directed last year, Whip It was far superior to this movie.

Co-starring a surprisingly cute Justin Long and a wonderful Christina Applegate, Going The Distance meanders along to its unsurprising conclusion. The one thing I did note was how raunchy the dialog was. I am no prude but for a mainstream comedy to be this foul-mouthed made me long for the production code of yore.

Never Let Me Go

Never This new British film has been getting rave reviews and it does have a powerful impact, but something is missing. Without giving away any secrets, it seems like an art house remake of Coma (the old '70s film where Genvieve Bujold and Michael Douglas discover that patients are being murdered in order to see their organs).

Starring Carey Mulligan, Andrew Lincoln and Keira Knightley, this story of a
creepy private school with evil intentions should have been much better. The
acting is fine, although I swear I thought Michelle Williams was playing Mulligan's
part until the end credits, and Keira Knightley is really starting to get on my
nerves. She's kind of creepy looking as well. Charlotte Rampling of swinging
1960's film fame is great as the headmistress at this hideous school.

As no one
seems to be actually enforcing the ghastly fates of the three leads, it is hard
not to wonder why they can't do something to avoid them. This is a well acted
film based on a good book by Kazuo Ishiguro, but it did nothing for me.

Easy A

EasyA This teen film is so enjoyable and well acted that it rises above its genre and becomes one of the delights of the year. The main reason that this film (about a girl who pretends to be sexually active in high school) is so good is the cast.

Emma Stone has the starring role and she is quite wonderful, but the real news in
this film is the top-of-the-line supporting cast. Stanley Tucci and Patricia
Clarkson wonderfully play the hippie parents; Lisa Kudrow plays the libidinous guidance counselor and Thomas Haden Church is the school teacher. To have this many really talented actors in a teen comedy is amazing and each of them has a surprising amount of screen time. Director Will Gluck filmed Easy A entirely in Ojai, California for a next to nothing 8 million budget. Easy A proves that there is still gold to be found in a teen movie. Plus the eye candy, including Penn Badgley and Cam Gigandet, doesn't hurt either. Give this movie a look as it is this generation's Clueless.

Read Mike's tributes to Joan Crawford and Bette Davis.