HVO: Match Point, Silk & Before The Devil Knows You're Dead
MATCH POINT (DVD 2005, drama)
Cast: Jonathan Rhys-Meyers, Scarlett Johansson, Emily Mortimer, Matthew Goode, Brian Cox
Director: Woody Allen
Time: 124 mins
Rating: * * * 1/2 (out of 4)
WOODY Allen usually makes arty-farty films that should be tolerated rather than enjoyed. Well, this one is different. It puts Allen back on the winner's scoreboard and gives new prestige to its stars.
Rhys-Meyers is Chris Wilton, a young Irish who coaches tennis and becomes involved with the wealthy Tom Hewitt's (Goode) family and his girlfriend Nola (Johansson). He marries Tom's sister Chloe (Mortimer) and is promoted vice-president of his father-in-law's (Cox) firm. However, a clandestine affair follows, leading him into an ever deepening quagmire that may involve murder.
Well, we have seen many soap operas about infidelity and how it erodes a marriage. This one, with laudable performances by the three main stars, offers something you have probably not seen before. It is engaging and draws you into the fray.
SILK (DVD 2007, romantic drama)
Cast: Michael Pitt, Keira Knightley, Koji Yakusho, Alfred Molina, Mark Rendall, and Sei Ashina
Director: Francois Girard
Time: 112 mins
Rating: * 1/2 (1.5 star)
THE one good thing about this movie is its cinematography by Alain Dostie who captures travel postcard style scenes. The rest of this movie, based on the novel by Alessandro Baricco, is all in tatters. Under Girard's direction, 'Silk' is highly pretentious, awfully slow and devoid of emotion, let alone sparks of any kind.
Pitt plays Herve Joncour who has to leave his beloved Helene (Knightley) to make the perilous journey to Japan, circa 1862, to buy silkworm eggs for his boss (Molina). In Japan, he becomes obsessed with a beautiful concubine (Sei Ashina) - and his life, like the silkworm eggs in the story, becomes infected with disease.
Yes, this is the movie where we get to see Knightley's boobs but they are not worth having to sit through such a dreary film. What's more Pitt can't at for nuts and Knightley and Molina are wasted.
BEFORE THE DEVIL KNOWS YOU'RE DEAD (DVD 2007, crime thriller)
Cast: Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ethan Hawke, Albert Finney, Marisa Tomei and Rosemary Harris
Director: Sydney Lumet
Time: 123 mins
Rating: * * * (3 stars)
THE title comes from an Irish toast which goes like this: "May you be in heaven half an hour before the devil knows you're dead!" And as you would expect, this is a toast for plotters and sinners and one of them is Andy Hanson (Hoffman) who conspires with his brother Hank (Hawke) to rob their parents' jewellery store.
The plan is actually clever and safe: Hank would scare the hell out of the old lady assistant, empty the trays into the loot bag and scoot. No one would lose because their parents can claim insurance. Of course, Hank, the loser, still manages to foul things up and sets in motion a series of events that will wreck the lives of everyone in the family.
The movie works because of great performances from Hoffman, Hawke and Finney - plus some needless distractions from Marisa Tomei in some topless scenes.