Tag Archive: The A-Team

The last three films I watched, that’s what.

Love in the Middle of a Murder Mystery

The Secret in Their Eyes (El Secreto de Sus Ojos, 2009) is an Argentinian murder mystery with superb performances, wit, and poignancy.

Twenty-five years after the rape and murder of a young woman, Benjamín Espósito (Ricardo Darín) cannot stop thinking about it. He was the court deputy who reluctantly investigated it, tangled it up with his own personal dilemma of being in love with his superior, Irene Menéndez Hastings (Soledad Villamil), and now is writing a book about it, obsessed with figuring what really happened back then.

This is a smart and interestingly paced film, with mood swings of various emotions running through it like waves.  The love story might be maudlin without the murder case; the revelation in the mystery of what happened to the killer would be darkly grotesque without the multi-decade romance. It all works together, in no small part thanks to the wonderful talent of Darín, who reminds me a bit (in looks and demeanor) of one of my all-time favorite actors, Alan Rickman.

This film would make a terrific double-feature with another film of Darín’s movies, The Nine Queens (2000), or the French film Tell No One (2006).


The Many Faces of Bob Dylan

I’m Not There (2007) is a film about Bob Dylan, but it’s also a film about the last forty years of Americana.

This is a beautifully shot and scored and highly creative film that is enjoyable on its own merits, not just for fans of Bob Dylan. I’ve never been much of a fan of Dylan’s music (save a few select songs he wrote and even fewer that he actually recorded). Regardless of whether one is a fan or not, it goes without saying that Dylan has been an important figure in music and more widely in the realm of art reflecting social consciousness. His life and personality also have spun a notable tale.

Unfortunately, if one knows nothing about Dylan’s life, much of this film will be pretty unintelligible. Rather than a typical linear biography, this is a film of impressions, playing on the different phases of Dylan’s life and eventually weaving a fascinating look into his psyche and soul. It reflects on actual events in Dylan’s life, so the requisite for these allusions is that you know about those events. It needs not be a deep knowledge — just read a brief biography somewhere online, and you should get what you need to enjoy the film.

The acting is superb, the cinematography is brilliant, the score is perfect, and everything works in wonderful balance in a film that EASILY could have become a pretentious mess. Six different actors (plus narrator Kris Kristofferson) play different facets of Dylan throughout his life — the young musician with an old soul, the brooding folk singer, the husband and father, the touring troubadour, and so on — and all do a fantastic job. My personal favorites were then-14-year-old Marcus Carl Franklin (Lackawanna Blues), Ben Winshaw (Perfume: The Story of a Murderer), and of course Cate Blanchett, who won the Academy Award for best supporting actress. (Or, should that have been actor?)  Oddly enough, my least favorite portrayals were turned in by the reliable Christian Bale and the typically more creative Heath Ledger. But taken together, the interwoven stories are magical and thought-provoking.


Blow It Up, Blow It All UP!

The Expendables (2010) is one of the year’s understandable glut of forays into antigovernment macho vigilantism. It is also a powerhouse of he-man action and wrestling stars all in one place.  Finally, it manages to blow up more buildings (and cars, and even heads) and churn out more physical carnage than The Losers, The A-Team, and Kick-Ass combined. It’s a perfect movie to watch when you’re pissed off at the world and need some vicarious violence.

Silvester Stallone directs and stars, and the cast includes Jason Statham, Jet Li, Dolph Lundgren, Terry Crews, Randy Couture, Steve Austin, Mickey Rourke, and Eric Roberts. There’s even an appearance by the Governator, Arnold Schwartzenegger. It spawns the best line in the film as he stalks out and Stallone says, “Awe, he just wants to be president.”

Other than that, the plot is paper thin, with holes these warriors could drive a truck through, and … well, let’s not even talk about acting. When the best actor on set is Jason Statham (I’m not counting the ten seconds that Bruce Willis spent on screen), I think we get the picture. Alas, this is not supposed to be a deep film.

It’s a lot of fun, though, if you do like action flicks. The fight between Lundgren and Li alone is worth the price of a rental. But I’d suggest seeing this on a screen larger than 32 inches — the explosions just need the room to bloom!


“Overkill is underrated” is a line uttered at the opportune moment by Col. John Hannibal Smith (Liam Neeson) head of The A-Team, this summer’s best (as far as I can tell) nostalgia-inspired adaptation. This line is the perfect explanation and rationale for everything in this immensely entertaining action-comedy.

In fact, one of the best things about this movie is that the vast majority of the lines are said at the right moment and in the perfect way. And they are great lines, with some refreshingly original humor and sight gags.

The A-Team is, of course, first and foremost a summer action flick, the kind that no one cares too terribly much whether it makes a lot of sense as long as things blow up impressively – and they do. But writers Joe Carnahan (who also directs; known for Smokin’ Aces), Brian Bloom (who also stars as one of the bad guys), and Skip Woods provide much more than we would have settled for.

Sure, there are plot holes big enough to fly a helicopter through. And the laws of physics are basically thrown out the window. But then, this is not supposed to be a realistic exposé of covert government ops. The unrealistic stunts are there for a reason, and in this film, that reason is to create all the well-used opportunities for the characters to be themselves. In some ways, the A-Team members as we knew them from the TV series have been turned into cartoonish superheroes capable of phenomenal feats.      Continue reading

Hello!  *waves hand frantically*

Wow, I haven’t written in forever.  Sorry!  My excuse is that I’ve had crazy piles of work and have been dealing with crazy people.  Crazy. Oh, all right – maybe it’s just me that’s crazy.  Nuf said.

In any case, let’s catch up!  My favorite way to catch up, naturally, is to talk about movies.  Oh, I’ll throw in some books this time too – just for good measure.

Playing with Live Grenades and Big Guns

The Losers (based on the comic series by Andy Diggle) is a testosterone-fest, a good old action flick in which the men are real men, and the women are too. I went to see it on a rainy Saturday when my mind was pretty much an exhausted blank, so it was perfect. The story line is neither complicated nor fascinating. It’s the movie you make when the Mission: Impossible franchise and The A-Team are already taken. But it’s a whole lot of fun to watch!

The five guys who call themselves “The Losers” are a squad of special ops soldiers who get sold out by Max, a phantom power-monger in charge of, oh, everything. Yada yada yada, they make it out alive and they come back for revenge. It’s pretty formulaic. A few not-so-shocking twists are thrown in – Aisha (Zoe Saldana) turning out to be someone other than they think, Max (Jason Patric) having a deadly agenda, and Roque (Idris Elba) turning against his boys.     Continue reading

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