A quick roundup of everything else I watched in the past few weeks.
Get Low (2009). Simple, folksy and poignant redemption story, with Robert Duvall as an ornery old coot with a heart (the St. Vincent of the 1930s) and a tragic secret regarding long lost sweetheart Sissy Spacek. He hires smooth cynic Bill Murray and honest family man Lucas Black to throw him a funeral while he’s alive so he can hear all the legends, and set the record straight about himself.
A Night in Old Mexico (2013). Duvall as another crank, in an odd noir-comedy spin on the “one crazy night” plot, crossed with the “odd couple.” He loses his Texas ranch and flees his depressing retirement trailer park with the aimless, needy grandson he hardly knows (Jeremy Irvine). On the way to Mexico they accidentally pick up drug money, dodge thugs and chase women until Duvall falls for a failed singer (Angie Cepeda).
…a couple of classic sci fi remakes, first The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008). Keanu Reeves playing an alien gives him the perfect chance to be robotically strange (I like him so that’s no knock), and his part worked great for me but the whole thing is half-baked. Jennifer Connolly, the scientist helping figure out why the aliens came, doesn’t get much of a character, the moral is more eco/green, with the visitors wanting to cleanse the human virus ruining Earth, which is depressing compared to the 1951 movie’s more redemptive peaceful message. Some really bad FX but a good-looking Gort.
The Invasion (2007). The least of The Body Snatcher versions but creepy enough for me and does its job of capturing the horrors of Groupthink. Pod people stare and move like zombies, chase shrink Nicole Kidman and her boyfriend doctor Daniel Craig while they search for cause and cure. I loved Kidman’s acting in this, always enjoy Veronica Cartwright, a lot of the action was good, it’s more subtle and intelligent than I expected, but could have made much more of this story. There’s a really good movie in here somewhere; the original director’s (Oliver Hirschbiegel) cut was tinkered with and another director brought in, so that’s likely why it feels so mixed up.
Body of Lies (2008). Ridley Scott directs, CIA vs. terrorists, skilled but disillusioned independent field op (Leonardo DiCaprio) vs. ruthless veteran spymaster (Russell Crowe), American vs. Jordanian intelligence (an excellent Mark Strong), and all of them after the same villains, but always screwing up each other’s work. A romance subplot balances out all the manipulators and helpless pawns, plenty of spy game details, but hard to buy that scheme where Leo invents a terrorist group to suss out the real ones. I liked it, but preferred how A Most Wanted Man told a similar story.
Backcountry (2014). A couple (Missy Peregrym, Jeff Roop) gets lost in the Canadian woods and chased by a bear. Not much to say, which is a compliment, because this is so spare, simple, short and thrilling.