Film Review: The Lincoln Lawyer (2011)

The interesting thing about The Lincoln Lawyer is that it never gives us an inspirational courtroom speech about truth or fairness.  In fact, the protagonist, a heavy-drinking defense attorney, never expects anyone to sympathize with his search for justice, probably because he gave up on such a thing happening a long time ago.  The man’s past is never fully explained to us, but it may be correct to guess that he used to be a bright, young law student passionate about finding the truth.  Over the years, he has learned the tricks of the trade, and though he is honest and trustworthy, he knows what he can get away with to get the job done.  The events that take place in this book-based courtroom drama are not ones that are pivotal moments in Mick Haller’s life, but ones that are mysterious and intriguing, and they certainly add up to terrific results.

The screenplay, written by John Romano, shows Haller working for a few different clients, but it mainly focuses on a case in which he represents a rich, young man who can beat the system and escape the horrific charges against him.  This causes the attorney to wonder whether to get his client out of the case or secretly set him up to get caught.  Actor Matthew McConaughey takes on the job of bringing us the character of Haller and he is the one who makes the movie enjoyable.  His likability draws us into the film to begin with and his performance keeps us interested.  The film contains an excellent supporting cast with William H. Macy, Marisa Tomei, Ryan Phillippe, Michael Pena, and Josh Lucas.

While McConaughey helps us enjoy The Lincoln Lawyer, there are other things that make the movie great.  The editing provides added excitement, the soundtrack perfectly expresses the mood, and the script keeps us on the edge of our seat.  It is a whodunit, a thriller, a character study, and a drama all at once.  Out of the few courtroom dramas to come out this year, this one is the most consistently entertaining.

Rating: 4.5/5

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Bond 23 Movie Posters

The world’s longest running movie franchise releases its newest adventure next year returning Daniel Craig as James Bond as well as starring Ralph Fiennes and Javier Bardem.  The film has not officially been titled Risico or The Property of a Lady; these names have only been rumored.  Here is some poster art thrown together by Bond fans:

Looking Ahead: Five 2011 Films I Cannot Wait to See

There are obviously many films that I would like to see by the end of the year, but there are only a few that stand out as something that could be great.  Here are five of them:

1.  Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy

Gary Oldman, Colin Firth, Tom Hardy, John Hurt, and Mark Strong all star in this intriguing espionage thriller in which veteran George Smiley (Oldman) is brought out of retirement to find a Soviet spy hidden within MI6’s group of agents.  This is planned to come out on November 18 (the week of my birthday) and I anticipate it to be well-acted and considerably suspenseful.  It will be interesting to see how Colin Firth’s performance matches up to his previous Oscar-winning one.  I expect Oldman to steal the show.

 

 

2.  Warrior

A second movie starring Tom Hardy.  It isn’t a boxing movie, if you looked close at the poster.  Instead, we get to see Hardy do some mixed martial arts as Tom Conlon, an ex-Marine set to fight his own brother in the final round of the MMA tournament.  The fighting looks intense and the added emotions behind the fight promise to elevate Warrior above our average sports flick.  I will be ready when this is released on September 9.

 

 

 

3. Hugo

November 23, a week after the release of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, Martin Scorsese’s newest film will be open for the general public.  What looks promising is that Scorsese has never done anything like this before, and this is the first film that he’s made in nine years that doen’t star Leonardo DiCaprio.  I really don’t know exactly what to expect, but if it is as enchanting as the imaginative children’s book which it is based on, then we should be in for a treat.

 

 

4. The Adventures of Tintin

It wasn’t too long ago that I was reading those wonderful illustrated adventures of Tintin.  These books were funny, intelligent, and high-spirited.  I am excited to see a hint of film noir in the trailer, along with some fascinating settings.  I doubt that Tintin will come close to winning the Best Animated Feature Oscar, but I would love for the French author, Herge, to get some sort of recognition.  Released on December 23.

 

 

 

5. Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol

I do love some good, mindless action thrills and the Mission: Impossible movies are one of the best franchises at bringing us just that.  While they typically show some significant flaws in some areas, I can always depend on them if I ever want to jump off a skyscraper or be suspended in a touch-sensitive, high-security CIA vault.  I can’t wait to see what director Brad Bird has in store for us this December.

 

 

 

Trailers:

 

 

 

 

Film Review: The Parking Lot Movie (2010)

 

I am not a violent man, but I did once swing a lead pipe at someone.”

So says Tyler Magill, a former parking lot attendant, who is interviewed in Meghan Eckman’s Parking Lot Movie.  Magill’s explanation for this action is that his victim refused to pay the 40 cent parking fee.  But this isn’t just Magill’s way of handling these situations, it embodies the attitudes of all his other fellow attendants.  Some of which are college students, some are mid-thirties and have been doing it for at least ten years.  But they all agree that the job is plenty of fun.

They acknowledge the poor reputation of their title, they say they are being paid to do almost nothing, and they exalt the activity as one of the most worth-while things they will ever do.  But with their enthusiasm and bitter disgust for the lot’s winy customers, comes a dry sense of humor that encompasses the whole film.  The way the parking lot is defined by the attendants’ funny rituals and sarcastic words reminds me of one of my favorite television shows, The Office.

But while The Office gets its hilarity from constant exaggeration, The Parking Lot, being a documentary, consists of cruel sincerity.  Throughout the film, we are shown the duties, habits, pastimes, and philosophies of the employees.  By the end, you will feel like you have actually met them, which is something hardly any Hollywood movies have achieved.

Its only significant flaw lies in the very beginning, and that is that it fails to intrigue the audience enough to watch the picture all the way through.  But none-the-less, there aren’t many slow bits once it picks up.  After all, it is only an hour and fifteen minutes and ends up being a funny, entertaining film that is well worth the time.

Rating: 4/5

Film Review: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Most all superhero movies aim at leaving the audience with anticipation of a sequel or some sort of reappearance of that hero. This is especially true for those made by Marvel Studios. One of next summer’s biggest motion picture events will be Marvel’s The Avengers, and it is what films such as Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America have been created to lead up to. The idea is that all the supers will join together to form one invincible team. Each of the above mentioned movies have concluded with plans for this one final major event. Yet Captain America is the first of all of these to seem to be just as concerned with carrying out the plot of this individual film as joining it with the other pictures.

Yes, it ends in obvious efforts to bring the Captain into the big picture, but with its closing line will come many interesting conversations among fellow viewers. It is a line that reveals the heart and inner desires of its hero beyond what Marvel has ever shown us before. With the exception of Christopher Nolan’s Batman series, Marvel has made the best superhero flicks around and this is one of their best. The problem that many may run into while viewing it however, is that it can be strikingly absurd at times. But you can solve that problem before you even enter the theater. Just simply go into the movie acknowledging that, while Chris Evan’s head doesn’t appear right on that scrawny, little body, it is fiction, and the point of the skinniness is to display the character’s humble beginnings. Just let The First Avenger do its thing, and you can have plenty of fun.

Like the best of Marvel’s efforts, Captain America is not all action. Though you will experience some great gunfights and exciting chases, there is humor to be found in the words of most every character in the film. Those of Tommy Lee Jones’ Colonel Chester Phillips prove to be very memorable. And then there are several qualities resembling Raiders of the Lost Ark, most obviously the Captain’s leather jacket and the evils of a Nazi villain. Strong performances are given by Hugo Weaving (Agent Smith in The Matrix) as Red Skull and Hayley Atwell (Bess Foster in The Duchess) as the avenger’s love interest.

And now to answer the question you’ve all been dying to ask: Was Chris Evans a good choice for the title role? The answer will vary from viewer to viewer. Those dedicated to the image of the original Captain from the comic books might not be totally satisfied. Yet if you are among the crowd who has never read or seen anything involving Captain America until now (me), the image of this iconic character displayed here shouldn’t bother you one bit.

Rating: 4/5

Film Review: Cars 2 (2011)

Six times out of the last eight years, Pixar has won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, and each year, it was well-deserved.  One of those two films that failed to bring home the prize was 2006’s CarsCars was my pick to win that year, and I still believe that it should have been awarded a statuette.  So in this year filled with numerous sequels, Cars 2 was one of the few that I established to be of any importance.

After viewing Lasseter’s latest effort, I wonder why he has suddenly changed the way he makes movies.  Just last year, his colleague, Lee Unkrich, showed the world how to create a brilliant follow-up to a beloved film in Toy Story 3.  Unkrich’s strategy was not a hard one: add a few new characters, keep all the old ones, and stir up all the love we have for the franchise by putting our favorite toys in danger.  The result was very touching and his new characters turned out to be very entertaining.

But what Lasseter has done with Cars 2 is expand everything but the emotions of his characters.  He juggles two stories at once, one a routine grand prix adventure featuring Lightning McQueen and the other an action-packed spy mission focusing solely on Larry the Cable Guy’s Mater.  Never has a Pixar film felt so complicated.  On the bright side, Cars 2 is so fast-paced that most children will never be bored.  However, for those with longer attention spans, the whole thing seems a bit rushed.  The action is fun, the animation is good, yet I have come to expect more from the Pixar crew than what I was given here.

Note: Pixar will not win their usual award this year.  Instead, I expect Rango or Kung Fu Panda 2 to steal the show.

Rating: 3.5/5

What’s your prediction for the Best Animated Feature winner?