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Movie review

  • 2006-01-25
Derailed
Good Night, and Good Luck
Saw II

Derailed
I'm sad to say that the title fits this movie tremendously well. "Derailed" is a predictable dramatic thriller for the straight-to-video category. Bored with his life, Charles (Clive Owen) decides to have an affair with Lucinda (Jennifer Aniston). As they are about to consummate their romance in a hotel room, a robber breaks in, steals their wallets and rapes Lucinda. Unwilling to tell their families the truth, the two try to forget everything, but the intruder just won't go away. Owen and Aniston may have big names, but they do a lousy job. You are constantly one step ahead of the story while the ham-fisted performances make you ever more embarrassed for the filmmakers. "Derailed" could perhaps have been a better movie if director Mikael Hafstrom hadn't firmly believed that his audience was brainless.
1/2 ( Julie Vinten )

Although "Derailed" was mauled by many critics, I found it a rather entertaining thriller. It's all been done before, of course, but when it's minus 25 degrees outside the movie theater any old rubbish seems good just so long as you're warm. Clive Owen proves once again that he's a decent actor, bringing some complexity and subtlety to what would otherwise have been a dull caricature. Jennifer Aniston likewise breathes some much-needed sassiness into her laughable lines as the business executive with whom he has an affair after meeting her on a train. "Derailed" cleverly taps into the insecurities afflicting your average male, although, in the end, the big bad wolf's huffing and puffing just can't bring our hero's house down.
( Tim Ochser )

Good Night, and Good Luck
This biopic tells the story of CBS broadcaster Edward R. Murrow and his team, which in the 1950s challenged U.S. Senator Joseph McCarthy on his infamous anti-Communist witch hunt. George Clooney has, with his second directorial effort, created an absorbing and sincere piece which resonates rather strongly with our current era. The black-and-white visuals, with their atmospheric lighting and beautiful compositions, are simple and effective. The narrative flows gracefully and the cast is wonderful. Don't expect a formulaic thriller. This is an elaborate character study more than anything else, and David Strathairn 's who is, like everything else in the film, precise and understated - shows remarkable presence as Murrow. 
( Julie Vinten )

This wonderful little film takes a nostalgic, mostly mythical, look at the days when television's corporate and editorial departments had distinctly different agendas. The story is based on CBS reporter Edward R. Murrow who famously took on Senator McCarthy in his news program "See it Now" and helped bring an end to one of the most shameful episodes in modern American history. David Strathairn is outstanding as Murrow, while George Clooney, Robert Downey Jr. and Patricia Clarkson are excellent in supporting roles. Clooney's lovingly made and cleverly crafted film is much more than a stylish exercise in nostalgia: it is an elegant and forceful critique of the shocking state of contemporary television. As Murrow said, television is merely wires and lights in a box unless it illuminates those who watch it. 
( Tim Ochser )

Saw II
The villain has created a game, his own twisted court of law of which he is prosecutor, judge and executioner. If you follow the rules, you might be allowed to live, improved and cleansed. If you don't, you die. The premise is fine, although rather hackneyed, but "Saw II" doesn't work very well. The original "Saw" understood that psychological terror is much more frightening than mindless blood and gore. This installment does not. This painfully humorless horror-flick is filled with underdeveloped characters played by actors devoid of personality or charisma. Even Donnie Wahlberg 's often a fine actor 's doesn't offer much. "Saw", at least, had some surprises. "Saw II" is just dull. 
1/2 ( Julie Vinten )

Considering how easily frightened I am by horror films, I was quite impressed with how nonchalantly I sat through "Saw II." Despite the fact that the victims being held in a booby trapped house were being burned alive, poisoned by nerve gas, thrown into syringe-filled pits and being gruesomely bumped off in other ways, I barely flinched in my seat except to sneak a look at my watch. "Saw II" tries its hardest to shock, appall and unsettle you, but instead you find yourself wondering about Jigsaw, the serial killer who, indignant that he has cancer, decides to dedicate his life to killing off those people he deems aren't worthy of living. How does he afford to finance his hobby? What toothpaste does he use? How does he relax after a hard day's killing?
( Tim Ochser )
 

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