Monday, February 22, 2010

"Edge of Darkness"

MUCH better than I expected and receives my highest rating. Director Martin Campbell has brought off a darkly moving story.

Entertainment Value: High.
Acting: Terrific.
Music: supportive, interpretive.
Plot: full of twists and turns.
Message: power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely.
Social Relevance: High

I expected a more formulaic story, but all the twists and turns kept me riveted to the screen ... I didn't wanna miss anything.

Mel Gibson portrays a loving single father who's daughter is shotgunned and killed on his front porch. At first, every one thinks Gibson (Boston cop Thomas Craven) was the intended victim. But why was his daughter so ill, and why had she come home so unexpectedly, and why, on the very night she was killed, did she have a bloody nose and then vomit blood?

Clearly, there's more to the story then meets the eye.

Craven's daughter, Emma, is played, with a deceiving innocence, by Bojana Novakovic. She's a top-notch graduate of MIT, now working in research for a shadowy company maintaining America's nuclear stock pile - huge amounts of money involved, of course. Though Emma is killed up front, her "presence" in Craven's mind fills out the absolute horror and sense of loss that grips a father's heart. In the end, there's a tender scene that some might consider a distraction, a sentimental flourish (think: John Tavolta's 1996, "Michael"). But it works for me; it touches on the final reality and the final hope!

Following his daughter's murder, Detective Craven goes to work, digging around where he shouldn't, finding out the story - it seems that his daughter discovered certain irregularities, and was about to go public, working with friends to gather evidence. But the company kills her friends and poisons Emma.

All the acting is superb, but one character truly stands out: Jedburgh, Captain Jedburgh, a man of the shadows, working on the edges of corporate power and government intrigue, a man responsible for cleaning up messes and putting the story straight. You wouldn't want to be on the wrong end of a stick held by Captain Jedburgh. Ray Winstone captures perfectly the ambiguity of this man who never asks moral questions, yet possesses a conscience that, in the end, ends the affair, so to speak. Elegant, in his own brutal way, working alone, he does the job, but faced with his own mortality, some decisions have to be made.

As the story unfolds, power at every level is involved.

As I sat there, I grew more and more edgy, thinking about power and wealth in this nation, and the Reagan-Bush legacy of unregulated big biz taking us down a blood road to hell. These Republican administrations have us worshipping the Market as if it were god and adulating power and wealth as if this were the pinnacle of human achievement.

Ask children today what they want to do when they grow up, and the answers are all-too common: be a star and make tons of money. What the hell have we done to ourselves?

In the end, the film asks, "Is justice possible?" when wealth can buy protection at the highest level?
When senators are in the pockets of the powerful, and the powerful can do anything they want. When government itself fails to remember The People!

In many ways, this film reminded me of "The Departed" ... and that's all I'm going to say right now about that.

Bloody and violent, but such is life all around us, and a film like this helps us think a little more deeply about the world we've created in the last 50 years.

A distinction can be made between violent men and men of violence. Violent men hang around in bars, drink cheap beer and look for a score. But men of violence wear expensive suits and live in expansive homes, drinking fine wine and looking pristine and smiling confidently, sitting in Congress and manning corporate helms, making us feel safe and comfortable with them. They gather in the world's finest hotels and spas, fly first-class and ride in limousines; they give orders to kill and then order flowers for their girlfriends. They send young women and men to their graves without a moment's thought (see "Avatar" - "When someone is sitting on some shit you want, you make them your enemy.")

A deeply moving dark story with a highly relevant message.

"Edge of Darkness" is definitely worth seeing!

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Crazy Heart

Ran across an excellent review by Steve Vineberg in a "Christian Century" blog ... click HERE to read.

I would add: one of Jeff Bridges finest moments - a marvelous actor, as he brings to life a beat-up wreck of a man.

Reminded me of Mickey Rourke's "The Wrestler" ...

I appreciated the ending ... reminded me of "It's Complicated" and Clooney's "Up in the Air" ... a good ending isn't always a happy ending, but in each of them, a curious kind of grace that sustains, even as they help others find their own life.