Monthly Archives: April 2011

THE AMERICAN (2010)

You cannot deny the existence of hell. You live in it. It is a place
without love.

Ok, so I will watch any movie with George Clooney in it. I even suffered thru Leatherheads (2008) and that was painful! But no such experience with The American, which is based on the novel “A Very Private Gentleman” by Martin Booth. This is a stylish and artsy thriller. The plot is quite simple and the pace is slow at times. There is lots of coffee drinking and gun building and not that much dialogue. But the acting is stellar and the movie is gorgeously shot and directed by Anton Corbijn, whose background in photography shines thru.

I am no good with machines

Jack (George Clooney) is an assassin with a burnout and a newfound respect for life. His last job did not end well. Because of the “no friends” policy, it ended even worse for his Swedish lady friend. Now he is on the run hiding from gun-toting Swedes with vengeance. Jack’s contact in Rome, Pavel (Johan Leysen), suggests hiding in an Italian hilltop town while the Swedish problem is taken care of. Jack is determined to quit his killing ways, but agrees to take a last job building a custom-made assassin rifle. He obviously missed the memo, which said that it is always bad when somebody tells you to consider something as your last job. Jack heads for the hills. While having secret rendezvous with a mysterious assassin Mathilde (Thekla Reuten) about the last job, Jack manages to have heart-to-hearts with a local priest Father Benedetto (Paolo Bonacelli) and use the services of the local brothel. Jack becomes drawn to another lost soul, the gorgeous prostitute Clara (Violante Placido). They fall in love. That’s when the past and the angry Swedes catch up with Jack. Thankfully the rifle is finally ready and delivered to the buyer, so Jack gets ready to move on. But are Jack and Clara able to find peace together or was Jack right to be suspicious about the purpose of the rifle?

   It’s Jack

This movie was filmed in the gorgeous Abruzzo region of Italy. In Castel del Monte the town’s dentist closed his practice and had a message on his answering machine explaining that he was “unavailable, due to his appearance in a Hollywood film.” When shooting the market scene in Sulmona the actor playing the cheese lady got a lesson from the real cheese vendor how to sell cheese. This proud vendor did not care that the crew was in the middle of shooting the scene; she saw that the actor was doing it wrong and walked into the scene to give directions.

The American provides a new harder look for George Clooney. A loner who is suffering long-term consequences of his past life – a role he has not played before. Anne Carey, who is one of producers of The American, says that audiences trust Clooney. She also points out that Clooney is an iconic actor and audience trust was very important with this character.

One step too many

Anton Corbijn directed this movie in a style of a western, with influences from Clint Eastwood and Sergio Leone. Corbijn was attracted to the screenplay because it deals with seeking redemption and morally changing your life. How a gun chances a man was also an interesting theme to Corbijn.

Violante Placido (Clara) has said that she finds the ending endearing. She thinks that all of us can come to a point when we think our life cannot change, so in that’s sense the characters can give you the possibility to realize that you can free yourself.

Come away with me

I found The American to be a sad story about a man who wants to change, but at the end the universe is against it. The lesson of this movie might be that while the past is past and you can change, sometimes you are like Tim Riggins from Friday Night Lights and just cannot catch a break.

Cuby and the Blizzards – Window of my Eyes

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GOING THE DISTANCE (2010)

You know like when you get really drunk and you just
kinda black out and you don’t know how much time has gone by

I certainly wish that would have been the case while watching Going the Distance. It just had one too many NYC – SFO trips in it. Maybe I did not understand the premise of this movie because I have never been in a long-distance relationship. Fair enough; but do you still expect me to believe that Justin Long’s character could not find a job in the music industry in California? Then why not take a temporary job as – let’s see – a dog walker to be able to spend some quality time with Drew Barrymore’s character.

The movie itself was lightly entertaining. Drew Barrymore and Justin Long did a good job as a couple who just were not able to live in the same city for more than 6 weeks.

You take my breath away

So there is Erin (Drew Barrymore) who has six weeks left on her internship in a New York newspaper, when she meets Garret (Justin Long). Garret is a newly single – we are talking just off the boat – Top Gun loving / Jonas Brothers hating regular guy. They have a one-night stand, which develops into a summer romance. Six weeks is up. Pop quiz: What do you do? You go long distance even though both of them have doubts. But they have fallen in love and this is just too good to pass. What follows is several trips between NYC-SFO. Garret’s two friends Box (Jason Sudeikis) and Dan (Charlie Day) cheer him on – hilariously. Erin on the other hand receives advice from her overprotective married sister Corinne (Christina Applegate). After a while, everybody comes to the inevitable realization that long distance must be made into short distance. Only if there would be one job available on the West Coast…

  This is not really working

Geoff LaTulippe based the screenplay loosely on the long-distance relationship experiences of his friend. Drew Barrymore was drawn to the script because she thought it was funny. She saw true emotional investment inside the comedy. Barrymore has also said that she likes playing strong female characters. Erin certainly is a person who deeply loves her sister, but at the same time is a little tomboyish and can hang out with the guys. What also made this movie appealing to Barrymore was that it’s an R-rated love story, which are not that common. I agree with her that Going the Distance is a more realistic and adult love story and not based on a fairy tale setting. I just did not find it that funny!

Peep Show

Nanette Burstein, who directed the movie, has a strong background in documentaries and commercials. Justin Long found this exciting, as it meant that Burstein would film as realistic as possible portrait of the two main characters. Burstein herself took this directorial debut because she thought that many people could relate to this love story.

The Boxer Rebellion “If You Run”

Going the Distance does have a realistic feel about it. It does also have some funny lines. As the poster says, it’s a comedy about meeting each other halfway. Unfortunately the movie does only go halfway – its weakest link being the screenplay. Strongest on the other hand is the cast with stellar performances.

Disease free and light – indeed