REVIEW: The Devil’s Double

13 08 2011

Major props have to go to Dominic Cooper in “The Devil’s Double” for taking the performance to 11.  In dual roles as Uday Hussein, the psychotically incorrigible son of Saddam, and his level-headed body double Latif Yahia, Cooper proves himself to be significantly more than just a pretty face for those who know him as little more than the cocky sidekick in “An Education” and the guy who can barely muster the effort to put on a shirt but is still lucky enough to land Amanda Seyfried in “Mamma Mia.”  He plays Uday with a balls-to-the-wall lack of restraint, a risky move that can be communicated as a sort of foolish ridiculousness to the audience in the hands of an unskilled actor.

But against all odds (and my own personal expectations), it doesn’t come off that way at all.  Cooper’s performance as Uday as a man of excess simply emulates the excess surrounding him in the form of gilded palaces, Rolex-laden closets, and harem garden pools.  Anywhere else, this demented sexually devious, trigger-happy scion would be wildly out of place.  Yet against this backdrop, Cooper soars and scares with his rabid intensity, neither chewing scenery or fading idly into it.

As Latif, the mild-mannered lookalike forced into servitude for Uday, Cooper offers a simple performance that doesn’t dazzle but feels more spectacular thanks to its juxtaposition in the same movie with the crazed madman.  It’s a showcase of range for Cooper; concerns that we won’t be able to distinguish the two practically indistinguishable characters from each other evaporates almost instantly as Cooper establishes a firm foundation for both characters and then layers a colossus on top of it.

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WTLFT: July 2011

8 06 2011

Yeah, I shortened the name.  It’s a lot more palatable.  This post will tell you What To Look Forward To in the month of July.  We have transformers, captains, teen stars, teen wizards, sex friends, zoo friends, hellish bosses, honey bears, and smurfs – just to name a few.  Here they all are; you can make up your mind if any of these actually appeal to you.

July 1

Cheating- “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” actually comes out on June 29, and, if you want to get really technical, June 28 at 9:00 in IMAX 3D and RealD 3D.  So while you curse me for my horrific crimes against nature, humanity, and blogging, watch the trailer and decide for yourself whether or not you want to subject yourself to Shia LaBeouf and a lot of loud noises orchestrated by Michael Bay.

On the quieter side of things, Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts plan to use their star power to fill seats at “Larry Crowne,” which looks like perfectly middle-of-the-road rom-com territory.  On the louder side of things again – and by louder, I mean girlish screams and constantly ringing cell phones – “Monte Carlo” gives young girls what they need during the summer.  A nice helping of Selena Gomez, Katie Cassidy, and Leighton Meester should have the tweeners saying “OMG!” until the next season of “Wizards of Waverly Place” hits the small screen. (There’s also a creepy thriller called “The Perfect Host” starring David Hyde Pierce, which I feel obliged to mention since it’s the only indie offering amidst these studio genre pics.)

July 8

Fingers crossed that “Horrible Bosses” will be funny!  I remember reading a piece on a blog for The Los Angeles Times well before the movie started production that praised it, so hopefully it stuck to the script.  If it’s a hit, I motion for Jennifer Aniston to stop doing horrible rom-com fare and stick to raunchy comedy; I chuckle every time I watch the trailer and hear her say, “Shabbat shalom; someone’s circumcised!”

As for “Zookeeper” … well, I hope the kids enjoy it.

I’ve definitely been going through a documentary phase ever since last year’s “Inside Job” rocked my world, and Michael Rappaport’s “Beats, Rhymes, & Life: The Travels of a Tribe Called Quest” could feed my obsession quite well.  It follows the titular hip-hop group (known as A Tribe Called Quest if you are as clueless as I was) from formation to fame.  Best case scenario it provides a fascinating expose of the craft of rapping much like “Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work” did for standup comedy last summer.  Worst case scenario I get to see some of my favorite artists talking about a group I’ve never heard of before.

Another interesting documentary (that I can only PRAY makes it to Houston sometime before I leave for college) is “Project Nim,” the story of a chimpanzee experiment.  I’ve always been interested in stories where lines and boundaries we once thought clear are exposed and shown to be more porous and relative than we thought, and this looks to deliver on a big scale.

July 15

Some tiny little series ends on screen.  It’s no big deal, it’s not like these movies define my youth.  It’s not like it’s a worldwide phenomenon.  But in all seriousness, I’m not going to cry.  “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2” – BRING IT ON!

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