Cinema Reservoir
Breaking Cinematic Opinion and Observation

More reviews!! Green edition

GREEN ZONE (2010)  Paul Greengrass reteams with Matt Damon for a non Jason Bourne (sort of) film.  The setting is sometime during Operation Iraqi Freedom and Matt Damon is Chief warrant officer Roy Miller on a quest to prove that his bosses are faking intel on weapons of mass destruction.  There aren’t a whole lot of interesting things going on here, he tracks down an anonymous source to a shady Bush regime lackey (Greg Kinnear) and the reporter he sometimes gives false information to (Amy Ryan).  It all leads up to nothing but a pretty standard shootout involving Matt Damon and a bunch of exiled and furious members of the dispelled Republican Guard.  Unless your thing is lots of satellite imagery, steady-cam battles, and harsh political commentary I would avoid this movie.  The plot drags along at a snails pace and none of the revelations it eventually uncovers should come as a surprise to anyone who watched the news in 2003.  It just seems to me like a lot of wasted time and money on a subject that nobody really wants to talk about anymore.  Still… the cinematography was eye-catching and the acting was pretty good, especially from Amy Ryan and Brendan Gleeson.  2 out of 5 Stars on this one.

GREENBERG (2010)  Noah Baumbach writes and directs Ben Stiller as the titular Greenberg, the neurotic brother of a successful something or other in LA.  While his brother and wife are on vacation, Greenberg – on vacation from New York, comes by to stay awhile and becomes more or less dependent on his brothers personal assistant, Florence (Greta Gerwig – the real star of the film).  Did I mention Greenberg is a neurotic?  Because he is, and this neurosis becomes the antagonist of both the plot and to the film itself.  Greenberg is a guy who can’t really seem to finish anything he starts, a problem that effects several people in the film, most notably his former band mates who are the only people he knows out in LA.  He hangs out in this empty mansion and is occasionally visited by his old best friend Ivan (Rhsy Ifans), who harbors a lot of resentment over a record deal that Greenberg ruined years ago, forcing him to find a new career path.  But most of this goes unaddressed throughout the film and only pops up after you’ve stopped caring about the subject.  Another plot thread involves his infrequent dalliances with Florence which confuse her and the audience, since Greenberg seems to be enjoying her company most of the time, but goes off on neurotic, hateful rants at the drop of a hat.  When he’s not driving Florence crazy, he’s obsessively writing letters of complaint to any and every business he comes across (American Airlines, the veterinarian, a bar he goes to, etc) or haranguing a woman he once loved (Jennifer Jason Leigh).  For many reasons, it’s hard to like the character Stiller plays.. he seems very fragile and vulnerable most of the time, then erratic and snobby only when it matters.  He berates Florence to the point the she wants to quit being the Greenberg’s assistant, then makes up with her only to act the same way again three scenes later.  It’s very hard to understand the character, yet that’s probably the point of the film; that he finds it hard to understand himself and why people are so defensive towards him.  Even still, the movie fails, in my opinion, to really get behind Greenberg and let us in on what he’s thinking and why he’s thinking it.  The film seems to be content just to let his mysterious actions speak for themselves.  3 out of 5 stars.


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