I wanted to see me some Italian corrupt politics riddled with assassination but I got more than I needed in Il Divo. Rather than just tell the story straightforward, which would have been gripping enough, director Paolo Sorrentino goes gonzo and thinks he’s Kubrick meets Scorcese but is neither as proven by his pretentious over-direction. Lead actor Toni Servillo plays the main character of long-time Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti like a grotesque caricature, hunching around, an expressionless Dracula save for the stagey (but really it’s all so stagey) soliloquies where he rants rapidly like a madman. Much like 2006’s visually beautiful but hollow “The Fall” this director knows how to make beautiful pictures, he just doesn’t know when the say ‘basta’ and tell a story. Subtlety is not sin signore; see ‘La dolce vita’ instead.
The frustrating age of Bush resulted in a backlash that produced not just a satirical film in last years’ “W.”, but also a one-man show, before he had even left office. Will Ferrell’s “You’re Welcome America, A Final Night with George W. Bush” being the latter. Ferrell is as always absurd and funny, his political satire spot-on, but weighing in at almost an hour and a half the show does get tired. It seems like a drawn out SNL sketch not helped by a dancing secret service man between scenes played by Ferrells’ brother. Maybe it’s just too soon.
The remake of “The Taking of Pelham 1-2-3” is a textbook example of how current Hollywood does thrillers bad with Tony “Top Gun” Scott pulling out all his tricks: The macho mustachioed men from Central ‘New Yawk’ casting, loud soundtrack booms with pulsating rock riffs, intermittent slow motion with over-saturated colors, super quick cuts and zooms, the overused helicopter shots and not one ounce of honest character development in the mix. Denzel Washington goes from a coffee spilling demoted MTA boss to a superhero chasing his nemesis on the Brooklyn Bridge with gun in hand. (I would say “Spoiler alert” but the tell-all trailer for this film already gives most of this film up). John Travolta is the brains of the subway-napping who eats up the scenery and all but gives his name and address to the dispatchers. In short this movie sucks. Scott constantly cuts to police officers and SWAT teams who do nothing with the exception of getting into three (Count em!) separate car crashes in one trip uptown. The filmmakers had unrestricted access to the NY subway system so it’s a shame this film pales in comparison to the original. That 70’s film directed by Joseph Sargent was shot with real grit and intelligence as it had the meticulous Robert Shaw matching wits with the great low-key Walter Matthau. Its classic ending was near perfect. They don’t make them like that anymore as this remake proves loudly.