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Movie review

  • 2005-11-23
Velvet Revolution
In Her Shoes
Luther

Velvet Revolution
Tough cop Vershinin (Alexei Kravchenko) isn't good at playing by any rules other than his own as he seeks to unravel an international drug ring. The makers of this Russian action-crime-drama have watched "The Last Boy Scout" 's and way too much MTV. "The faster we edit, the cooler our film will be," seems to be the motto. The filmmakers clearly had a budget large enough to buy themselves a ton of explosive action sequences, it's just a shame they didn't spend more on script-development. What's apparently crowd-pleasing material in today's Russia doesn't make this particular movie any less of a boring show-off. Moreover, every English-language scene is dubbed into Russian by a single, monotonous, TV-style voice, which is quite agonizing.
1/2 ( Julie Vinten )

I cannot help but lament the state of Russian cinema when I see films like this. Although there are still plenty of good Russian films coming out, "Velvet Revolution" epitomizes the very worst of an alternative take on big-budget action films. Vershinin (Alexei Kravchenko) is a maverick cop trying to infiltrate an international drug ring, along with his pedantic partner. Many monosyllables follow. The film tries to strike a solemn note through various gritty dramatic subplots, but these seem horribly glib alongside the ludicrously over-the-top action sequences. "Velvet Revolution" is an extremely violent and unpleasant piece of work posturing as a brooding and sophisticated thriller. But a slick veneer just isn't enough. That probably won't stop director Stepchenko from directing a Harry Potter film sometime soon though.
1/2 ( Tim Ochser )

In Her Shoes
It's almost impossible to believe that the director of this chick flick, Curtis Hanson, also directed "L.A. Confidential," one of the best movies of the 1990's. The sisters Rose (Toni Collette) and Maggie (Cameron Diaz) are as different as night and day. Their love/hate relationship causes each of them distress, but whatever their differences, they share an unbreakable bond. Almost none of what happens in this uncomfortably corny and sentimental melodrama is believable, and the characters never get beyond what their stereotypes stipulate. What they say and do might have worked in print, but fails to be anything but cliche on screen. The casting is also curiously off. Diaz and Collette share so little chemistry that it's almost impossible to believe they have a close bond, let alone that they're sisters.
1/2 ( Julie Vinten )

Maggie Feller (Cameron Diaz) is beautiful, while her sister Rose (Toni Collette) is not, according to this supremely manipulative soap opera of a film about sibling rivalry. Maggie uses her looks to take advantage of men, while Rose slogs it out at a top law firm. They love each other and yet hate each other, and the plot thickens and sickens in equal measure. Diaz and Collette give their all to their roles and their fine acting helps elevate the film above the ordinary, but there is something still deeply jarring about "In Her Shoes." Shoe metaphors are hardly sophisticated at the best of times, but this film just keeps hurling stiletto after stiletto at you until one of them finally strikes you in the eye and blinds you to how desperate it all really is.
1/2 ( Tim Ochser )

Luther
"Luther" deals with an extremely fascinating subject, but is unfortunately a flawed picture. Set in the 16th century, it centers on the Protestant Reformation and religious leader Martin Luther. Attractive costumes and locations can't rectify the stiff acting and messy structure. The audience is thrown right into the story without any character introduction, and though the movie finds a somewhat nice narrative flow about midway, the characters remain flat all the way through. The feature missteps again when placing a higher value on events than the characters' motivations and ideas. "Luther" would arguably have turned out more interesting had it been more of an in-depth interpretation of Martin Luther himself 's one man's struggle and doubt 's or, to a lesser extent, a history lesson.
( Julie Vinten )

This well-meaning but facile film about the German theologian Martin Luther (Joseph Fiennes) barely scratches the surface of its subject. The story skips through the standard history book version of Luther's life, and turns it into Hollywood-style hagiography as our hooded hero bravely takes on the pope after condemning Catholic indulgences. And in case we are in any doubt as to the profound significance of Luther's every word and deed, a rousing orchestra strikes up whenever he opens his mouth. Peter Ustinov is almost unbearably theatrical as Frederick the Wise, especially when his fingers "itch" to touch Luther's newly-translated German bible. But "Luther" is also strangely enjoyable, if only for its quaint sense of heroism and hyperbole. Now there was a man who could say he did it his way.
1/2 ( Tim Ochser )
 

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