Light and Dark Side of Murder
Anthony Hopkins, Ryan Gosling
by Breanne Boland May 3, 2007 Issue
Fracture, whose writer
surely mourned the fact that a movie called A Perfect Murder came
out relatively recently, is a very large episode of your favorite
lawyer-driven crime show, made cinematic with casting and the
careful application of swearing. Anthony Hopkins and Ryan Gosling
play cat and mouse, with Gosling as the ambitious young lawyer.
shoots his cheating wife, leaving her in a coma. Everything about
the case seems cut and dried — bullet casings, a signed
confession, an obvious motive, and a closed crime scene with no
other suspects. However, as Gosling digs into the case, half-distracted
by the shiny new corporate job he just landed, things start falling
apart. The murder weapon can’t be found. The man Hopkins’
wife was sleeping with took the confession. Probably these problems
would not be so devastating to a case in actual court, but in
movie court, Gosling’s would-be slam-dunk case threatens
to end his career.
Hopkins menaces his
way through this film, inexplicably shifting his desire for consequence-free
revenge to a desire to ruin Gosling’s young lawyer. The
calculated speeches are more about eggs and flaws and —
you guessed it — fractures, rather than about the crying
of the lambs, but the steps of the dance are the same.
The first half of the
film zips along well enough, carrying the audience along in much
the same way a Saturday afternoon Law and Order marathon might,
but once all of the details of Hopkins’ plan are revealed,
leaving Gosling to pick up the pieces, the film’s momentum
disappears almost entirely. Hopkins smirks malevolently once too
often, and what started out cashing in on the reputations and
expectations of the players comes a little too close to parody,
culminating in an ending guaranteed to make anyone in the legal
profession laugh through the credits.
Bottom line: good acting
mired in a mediocre story
Simon Pegg, Nick Frost
Part of the reason
Shaun of the Dead was so great was that it mocked the zombie film
whilst simultaneously being a legitimate contribution to the genre.
Hot Fuzz walks the same line, mocking big-budget action movies
while upholding the necessary conventions. Horror movies lend
themselves more easily to self-parody, so the line between serious
and silly is shakier this time, but overall the formula works.
Pegg plays Nicholas
Angel, an exceptional London police officer whose diligence and
flawless record humiliate his coworkers, earning him a transfer
to the safest village in Britain. At first, he seems doomed to
finish his career watching for minor traffic offenses, but when
mysterious and increasingly gruesome deaths begin piling up, Angel
is the only person who can ferret out the murderer in the Best
Kept Village in Britain.
The jokes are frequent,
but never overly broad or obvious. The comedy is consistently
smart, showing a reverence for the very material they’re
mocking. It helps that Pegg and Frost’s curious little specialty
is the depiction of genuine, deep male friendships, the base of
so many action-cop-buddy movies.
Hot Fuzz comes out
at the perfect time, a nice little aperitif before the summer
movie season, which will bear all manner of simple, straightforward
explosions and car chases. There have been several cheap, stupid
entries into the parody genre in recent months, so it’s
reassuring to see that smart comedy still exists — even
if it has to come from an ocean away.
Bottom line: smart,
Spider-Man 3: In what may be the last installment of the franchise,
all the stops are pulled out — there are two villains, two
love interests, and more about the psychological ramifications
of being a very public, very well-known superhero.
Lucky You: A beleaguered
professional card player (Eric Bana) participates in a high-stakes
poker tournament in Las Vegas. However, there’s more at
risk than money — Bana hopes to straighten out his problematic
life as well. With Drew Barrymore and Robert Duvall.
Georgia Rule: A rebellious daughter (Lindsay Lohan) is sent by
her mother (Felicity Huffman) to live with her grandmother (Jane
Fonda). Life lessons are learned, similarities are shared, and
Lohan tries one more time to live up to her talent before her
tabloid-friendly life devours her.
28 Weeks Later: A different
director and different characters are involved in this update,
set six months after 28 Days Later. The players are generally
trustworthy, but rarely does a great sequel do all of its marketing
based on, “Remember that? Wasn’t that great? Remember
that great poster we had?”
Many people, when they lay in bed late at night, unable to sleep,
contemplate the great mysteries of our time. The existence of
God, the meaning of it all, things like that. I wonder how it
is that Larry the Cable Guy still makes a living as an entertainer.
from Breanne Boland