Welcome to the movies at PS News.
Each week, PS News’s film critic Victor Rebikoff will highlight the latest offerings from the silver screen and share his expert commentary for our information and guidance.
At the movies now includes reviews of Sony Pictures DVDs that are yet to be released.
State of Play
Director: Kevin Macdonald, Universal Pictures, Rated M, 127 Minutes
Showing at Dendy and Greater Union Cinemas
Based on the popular BBC television series of the same name, State of Play is an electrifying political thriller brought to the big screen by academy award winning director Kevin Macdonald (Last King of Scotland).
The story revolves around a journalist’s investigation into a political scandal involving a U.S. Congressman.
There’s plenty of action from the outset, when a petty thief is gunned down in an alley, a pizza delivery man on a bicycle is shot a few minutes later, and then a Congressman's assistant (and mistress) suddenly falls in front of a train - three seemingly unrelated deaths.
But the brash and unruffled newspaper reporter Cal McAffrey (played superbly by Australian actor Russell Crowe from Gladiator) suspects there is a political conspiracy at hand that also involves his friend, Congressman Stephen Collins (Ben Affleck).
With the aid of an ambitious young rookie reporter, Della Frye (played by the delightful Rachel McAdams), McAffrey and Frye begin the difficult task of digging up clues.
Following a trail of clues they are led to a corporate and political cover-up full of insiders, informants and assassins.
As they get closer to the truth, the relentless journalists risk their lives to get the explosive truth - while racing against the clock to meet the newspaper’s deadline set by their impatient editor (brilliantly played by legendary actress Helen Mirren The Queen).
The script for State of Play – penned by political writers Matthew Michael Carnahan, Tony Gilory and Billy Ray – is insightful and intriguing, with many twists and turns that make the movie engaging and exhilarating to watch.
Of course one cannot overlook the incredible performances by Crowe and Affleck - both are simply outstanding, as are McAdams and Mirren.
To a lesser degree, Robin Wright-Penn must be praised for her performance as the Congressman’s wife, and Jeff Daniels mustn’t be overlooked as Congressman George Fergus. Each played their characters with a great deal of finesse and realism.
Macdonald has cleverly intertwined the essential ingredients for a real political thriller – a scandal, a political conspiracy and a political assassin – with each aspect being pursued by a veteran and rookie reporter of a major newspaper.
He has delivered a gripping and exciting political drama that is reminiscent of the classic movie All the President’s Men.
Most importantly, State of Play is an intense ride that will keep everyone entertained and on the edge of their seat until the final credits appear.
VIC'S VERDICT: 4 Rubber Stamps
(DVD release date: May, 2009)
Director: Frank Miller, Rated M, 102 Mins
Frank Miller (comic artist and graphic novelist) returns to the screen as sole director of The Spirit.
Miller replicates the same film-noir style, visual imagery, and the appealing cartoon appearance used in his 2005 movie Sin City.
Gabriel Macht plays The Sprit, a fictional masked avenger who is hell-bent on ridding Central City of his number one enemy – The Octopus(Samuel L Jackson).
There are also two women aspiring to be the Spirit’s love interest – Eva Mendes as Sand Saref and Sarah Paulson as Ellen Dolan. Both actresses provide fine performances.
Scarlett Johansson also appears as Silken Floss, the Octopus’ sidekick.
Despite a stellar cast, some of the performances were somewhat ‘hollow’ and too ‘cartoonish’.
Although there are some high contrast colours and abstract computer generated backgrounds are used, the cinematography and graphics are very much a carbon copy of Sin City.
Aesthetically The Spirit was interesting to watch on DVD but ultimately succumbs to some poor acting and direction which are cleverly masked by Miller’s stunning visual style-the main reason for purchasing this DVD.
VIC'S VERDICT: 3 Rubber Stamps