The Deep End (2001)
★★★★ / ★★★★
The thing I love most about this film is its audacity to be atypical. Tilda Swinton is absolutely terrific as the mother who is constantly tested to see how far she will go to protect her son (Jonathan Tucker) and his secrets. Throughout the picture, I felt like I was watching a poker game as I peer over her shoulder, both of us knowing that she has a bad hand, but she keeps calling her opponents’ bets because she invested too much in the round, desperately hoping that the others are simply bluffing. The bleak atmosphere elevated the constantly increasing drama to the point where it almost works as a thriller. I tried not to look Swinton in the eye too much because once I do, I feel like I’m in as much trouble as she is. Her Oscar win from “Michael Clayton” was a long time coming. Another great performance comes from Goran Visnjic who plays one of the men that blackmails Swinton. I thought I knew which direction his character was going to take so that specific twist was a nice surprise. As for Jonathan Tucker, I’ve seen him in movies like “Pulse,” “Hostage” and the 2003 version of “The Texas Chainsaw Massacre,” but it was “In the Valley of Elah” and “The Ruins” that made me want to know more about his capabilities. Even though he’s not in as many scenes I as I would have liked here (considering he’s a crucial part of the story), he was spot-on in each of them. Overall, I was invested in each character because the situations they are put in can happen to just about anybody. There’s a certain sense of realism and that’s what makes it so engaging. This is the kind of movie that not everybody can appreciate because it’s far from the norm. Instead of focusing on what was said, the film focuses on the characters’ silent moments and decisions, thereby creating a plethora of implications. Suffice to say, I think this film is exemplary in every way.
The Insider (1999)
★★★★ / ★★★★
This film is so intense from the moment it started and the plot only got more complex (not to mention more interesting) from there. This is based on a true story of a man who was interviewed on “60 Minutes” (played by Russell Crowe as Dr. Jeffrey Wigand) to expose the lies of a tabacco corporation, especifically Brown & Williamson, when they claimed that nicotine is not at all addictive and harmful to one’s well-being. Complexity ensues when the tabacco corporation threatens CBS with a lawsuit; CBS then decides not to show the public the interview because they thought that they would lose, which is truly heartbreaking because Dr. Wigand has sacrificed both his professional and personal life for that one (compelling) interview. Lowell Bergman (played by Al Pacino) approaches Dr. Wigand for a story and he shows the audiences what it means to have journalistic integrity. I find it very difficult to summarize the plot of the film because there are many layers to it. The only way to fully understand the picture is to watch it closely because each detail comments on how the media functions, how far corporations are willing to go to protect their money and those unfortunate people that get caught in the giant maelstrom of lies, confusion, and deceit (not to mention death threats and restraining orders). Yes, it’s a wordy film and it will definitely repel those that are not into watching pictures that are all about the technicalities in bureaucracies, but that’s what makes “The Insider” so rewarding: it’s not a common motion picture. There are a lot of highlights in the film but some of my favorites include: Bruce McGill’s anger during Dr. Wigand’s deposition, Pacino’s speech involving a “cat” being “out of the bag,” and Crowe’s scenes when he was alone as he reflects upon his past actions–questioning himself whether or not what everything he’s done is worth it. I felt so much for Crowe’s character because the blood-sucking Brown & Williamson fired him for no reason and then later took everything from him to the point where I felt like Crowe’s character was on the verge of suicide. I highly recommend this film, directed with such visual flair by Michael Mann, because it is able to tackle the idea of character assassination in a very scary but very realistic manner. I will remember this film for a very long time because pretty much everything about it works, especially the intense acting from all the actors involved.
Halloween 6: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995)
★★ / ★★★★
This could’ve been one of the best sequels of the “Halloween” franchise but it doesn’t reach that level because this installment tried to do too much. The magic and effectiveness of the first film starring Jamie Lee Curtis lie in minimalism: there’s not a lot of special effects (smoke, fog, rain, explosions) and the soundtrack is pretty much non-existent except during the stalking and killing scenes. And if the filmmakers do use the soundtrack, they use the theme song, not some rock and roll instrument-bashing snippets that tend to turn the audiences deaf. This one had those negative elements and it made the images unrealistic. Moreover, the writers could’ve completely eliminated the cult storyline. Dabbling with the occult is the worst one can do when it comes to writing a “Halloween” storyline because the franchise thrives on realism. The point is to make a realistic scary movie that can possibly happen on a Halloween night. That’s why the first one became a classic; because what the audiences are seeing is so relatable and real. The best part of this film was Michael Myers’ (George P. Wilbur) return to Haddonfield because that’s where everything started. It’s fun to watch Paul Rudd taking the lead but I have to say that whenever he smiles, I could not help but smile back or even laugh out loud because I’m reminded of how funny he is in his other films (especially in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall”). But I think he can carry horror films quite well. Yes, this one is pretty scary because Michael Myers has more brutal ways of killing but those negative elements I mentioned tend to offset the scale from “pretty darn good” to “just mediocre.” If one decides to see this film, see it for Paul Rudd and Donald Pleasence’s final turn as Dr. Sam Loomis, the original psychiatrist who saved the lovable Laurie Strode (Curtis) from the hands of the seemingly invincible psychopath named Michael Myers.