Monday, September 17, 2007

3:10 To Yuma

3:10 To Yuma
2007 -- Rated R
Director: James Mangold
Russell Crowe, Christian Bale, Peter Fonda

   It could be that Russell Crowe (A Beautiful Life, Master and Commander: Far Side Of The World) is a good actor. Or it could be that Christian Bale (The Prestige, Batman Begins) is a good actor. Or maybe the story is good or the action is good or... maybe I'm just glad to see a bona fide western in the theater again. Or maybe it's all of the above. Whatever the reason 3:10 To Yuma is a good western movie.
    The original film was based on the Elmore Leonard short story of the same name. With this new treatment, Academy Award winner Crowe takes on the role of outlaw leader Ben Wade and Bale is the hard working rancher Dan Evans (roles played by Glenn Ford and Van Heflin respectively in the original film) who takes on the job of delivering the smooth talking outlaw to the nearest town with a train going to Yuma and the penitentiary located there. Along the way to the train the group battle Apaches, vengeful railroad lawmen and money hungry townspeople all the while each man gaining a degree of respect for the other that must be dealt with at the end of the line.
    One surprising delight in 3:10 To Yuma is the enigmatic performance turned in by relative newcomer Ben Foster as Charlie Prince, Wades myrmidon second in command. Prince, whose only allegiance is his fatally flawed devotion to Wade, is a sociopathic killer and Foster brings the character scarily to life.
    New westerns are few and far between so thankfully 3:10 To Yuma is worth the wait.

Mr. Brooks

Mr. Brooks
2007 -- Rated R
Director: Bruce Evans
Kevin Costner, Demi Moore, Dane Cook, William Hurt

   Most folks I know are either a Kevin Costner fan or they’re not and if they’re not they say he has very limited acting range and his emotions are monotonous. That being said Mr. Brooks is a perfect vehicle for Costner. Mr. Brooks (Costner) is a very complex man and he must hide that complexity as best he can, which means his emotional range is very limited. You see, Mr. Brooks is a serial killer and not just your garden variety of serial killers either, Mr. Brooks is a schizophrenic – and he knows it.
   Yet while he spends his evenings killing, his daylife is consumed by a boorish existance as the owner of a box making company. He has even been named Portland, Oregon’s Man of the Year.
   Mr. Brooks has managed to keep his schizophrenia under control for two years by attending AA meetings, divulging only that he is an “addict.” But Marshall, Mr. Brooks’ imaginary alter-ego played wonderfully by the talented William Hurt, manages to convince Mr. Brooks to “do” one more killing.
   As complex a person as Mr. Brooks is, his complexity rivals that of the movie plot which, though never too hard to follow, successfully intertwines several different storylines. Demi Moore is Tracy Atwood, a Portland detective who has been on the trail of the “Thumbprint Killer” (Costner) for quite some time. Dane Cook is Mr. Smith who accidentally takes photos of Mr. Brooks’ latest escapade, but rather than turn him in, he wants to learn how to kill. Amidst all this, Mr. Brooks’ daughter suddenly appears on the scene, having dropped out of college because of an alleged pregnancy but it turns out that she too suffers from the same homicidal disease as her father.
   It would be difficult to divulge more of the plot lines without giving away too much of the movie. Suffice it to say that this is one heck of a movie that will keep you riveted to your seat. Costner is perfectly cast as Mr. Brooks and Mr. Brooks is easily the best movie of the year so far.