12 April 2010

Groundhog Day; Shutter Island; True Lies

Groundhog Day

Bill Murray plays Phil Connors, an obnoxious weatherman who is forced to relive the same day over and over again. It's a cute concept. The kernel of the movie is the story of how Connors redeems himself through introspection and self-improvement. However, I didn't like the execution: the story seemed to stray too far at times into random territory. Connors is confused, then suicidal, then sleazy, then abusive, then persistent, etc. It was just too much for me. The film is still worth watching once, if for no other reason than because the story has become a part of the American cultural lexicon.

Don't forget to read the economists' take: The Economics of Groundhog Day. In a nutshell: "In economic terms the final reliving of the day constitutes what economists refer to as a perfectly competitive equilibrium based on perfect information."

Shutter Island

The trailer makes this look like a horror movie, but it's actually a thriller/mystery. (Good thing, too; I hate horror movies.) Leonardo DiCaprio plays a federal agent sent to the titular island, which houses a mental hospital, in order to investigate the disappearance of a patient. Shutter Island is entertaining throughout, and a good mix of mystery, drama, suspense, and some hauntingly beautiful cinematography. I liked the interplay between Leonardo DiCaprio's character and the two eerie doctors (Ben Kingsley and Max Von Sydow). This movie comes recommended.

People seem to have mixed feelings about the twist ending. It's no The Sixth Sense, but I thought it worked well. (I didn't feel cheated, as I did at the end of, say, Atonement.)

One complaint though, about the soundtrack: enough with the damned string section already!

True Lies

I started enjoying this movie a lot more once I realized it was not an action movie but an action comedy. Arnold Schwarzenegger plays a secret agent who hides his true job from his wife (his cover is a boring computer salesman). His marital problems are the source of much comedy.

In its overall setup it's very similar to a Bond movie (and with an FX budget to match, apparently), except that True Lies doesn't take itself as seriously.

A couple of things stand out for me. A few of the characters, including a used-car salesman who pretends to be a spy in order to attract women, are exceedingly pathetic. And the setup behind one scene, in which Helen (the wife of Schwarzenegger's character, played by Jamie Lee Curtis) goes on an undercover mission, is rather disturbing. There were a few parts that made me rather uncomfortable, and I loved those in an oddly cathartic way.

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