REVIEW: End of Watch

13 10 2012

There’s a very specific kind of movie you’d immediately think of when I say a “cop movie,” and it is exactly that kind of film that “End of Watch” so ably resists becoming.  It avoids clichéd conventions of the buddy cops but doesn’t set up its two protagonists as polar opposites and rivals either.  They aren’t fighting some overly symbolic battle against evil, nor are they navigating a disturbingly grey world.

As Brian Taylor and Mike Zavala, Jake Gyllenhaal and Michael Peña give assured, confident, and assertive performances as two ordinary cops who find themselves drawn into a web of crime beyond their wildest imagination.  We follow them through their days on the job in the same way a slice-of-life British drama would … although the characters in those movies usually don’t uncover grotesquely disfigured bodies or virtually enslaved humans.

These shocking sights are made all the more unsettling by writer/director David Ayer’s sparing use of them.  Sensationalism in a sensational movie by nature loses its sensation.  When those same sights punctuate the quotidian, they jolt us out of our slouched position in our seats.

Ayer’s execution isn’t exactly flawless; his opportunistic seizing of the “found footage” filmmaking style feels a little bit forced, and then it is abandoned all together.  “End of Watch” also suffers some minimal damage from ridiculous ethnic actors – I mean, come on, do the Hispanics really not know another word in English other than the f-bomb?  But overall, he crafts one hell of an emotionally involving, sensorily engaging, and wholeheartedly engrossing police drama that never strays far from a firm base in reality and humanity.  A- 

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What To Look Forward To in … March 2010

12 02 2010

There’s more to March than just the Oscars.  Finally, March arrives and we can stop dwelling on 2009.  In my opinion, March is usually a pretty decent movie month.  This year’s crop looks especially promising with new movies from Tim Burton, Paul Greengrass (“The Bourne Ultimatum”), and Noah Baumbach (“The Squid and the Whale”).

March 5

After almost 3 months, “Avatar” will have to cede those illustrious 3-D and IMAX screens to Tim Burton’s twist on “Alice in Wonderland.”  The titular character is played by relative newcomer Mia Wasikowsa, who will look quite a bit older than the Alice you remember from Disney’s 1951 animated classic.  If that’s not a big enough draw for you, surely Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter (who will hopefully channel more of his glorious Jack Sparrow than his Jacko-esque Willy Wonka) will suffice.  No?  How about Helena Bonham Carter as the Queen of Hearts?  Or Anne Hathaway as the White Queen?  Perhaps Alan Rickman as the Caterpillar?  No doubt about it, this is one exciting cast, and I’m sure Tim Burton won’t have any problem distinguishing himself from the numerous “Alice in Wonderland” rip-offs that have sprouted over the past few years.

“Brooklyn’s Finest” is directed by Antoine Fuqua, helmer of “Training Day,” which was enough to get me interested.  However, it really looks to be little more than a mash-up of every cop movie ever made.  But hey, that may be your thing, which would make this your potpourri.

March 12

I’m excited for “Green Zone,” which looks to be a smart political thriller. See my previous post at the release of the trailer for more info.

On the indie side of things, Noah Baumbach looks to return to Oscar form after “Margot at the Wedding” underwhelmed with “Greenberg.”  The movie stars Ben Stiller as Greenberg, the grouchy misanthrope who finds a reason to be pessimistic about everything.  However, a special woman comes along and begins to melt his heart.  I’m looking forward to a double-edged performance from Stiller, one that can show off his dramatic chops but also give us plenty of hearty laughs.

Seth Rogen’s four roommates in “Knocked Up” were equally as funny as he was. Each of them have slowly gotten their “moment”: Jonah Hill in “Superbad,” Jason Segel in “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.” Now, it could be Jay Baruchel’s turn. “She’s Out of My League” pits him similar situation: the uncomely guy getting the smoking hot babe. Hopefully Paramount gives this the push it deserves, maybe making Baruchel a breakout comedic star of 2010.

Could “Remember Me” get Robert Pattinson the Razzie for Worst Actor? After narrowly missing the cut for his two performances as Edward Cullen, this could finally be the one to get him the kind of awards attention he deserves.

Forest Whitaker is an Academy Award winning actor. What on earth is he doing in “Our Family Wedding?” For that matter, America Ferrera has won SAG and Golden Globe awards, and Carlos Mencia was once actually funny! This looks not only insufferable but almost racist. Plus, didn’t I see this movie in 2005 when it was called “Guess Who?”

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