Monday, 1 March 2010

Having a second look

Having watched several recent movies over the last few days ("Revolutionary Road", "Seven Pounds" -- a lightweight dog of a flick, "Notorious", and "Push" among others), I found myself with nothing that I particularly wanted to say about any of these. When that happens, I tend to revisit films that I have seen previously, generally without lingering affection, to see how they strike me the second time around.

Blood Work (2002): I revere Clint Eastwood as much as the next guy and while I always enjoy watching him as an actor, I do find some of the movies he has churned out as a director a little so-soish. Mind you, his overall filmography is so impressive on both scores, that I can forgive him a minor effort like this one. Playing a retired FBI agent who suffered a heart attack in pursuit of a serial killer, he now has had a heart transplant courtesy of surgeon Anjelica Huston (huh??). When he discovers that his new heart came from Wanda De Jesus' murdered sister, he is cajoled into looking into her death and finds himself knee-deep in red herrings left by the erstwhile serial killer who misses their little cat-and-mouse games. SPOILER: Once all of the likely suspects are found dead, it doesn't take a genius to focus on buddy Jeff Daniels who lives on the boat next door, and the alert viewer might have guessed his guilt early on. Still it was entertaining to see Daniels playing against type and to see the then 71-year old Eastwood looking fit as a fiddle (despite his character's heart problems) and romancing the much younger Latina love interest (just as he did in real life). Best not to dwell on the dubious comic relief from local detectives Paul Rodriguez and Dylan Walsh, who have resented Eastwood's celebrity FBI man every step of the way.

Extreme Measures (1996): This medical drama stars Hugh Grant as a dedicated doctor who strangely becomes an action hero. Since the film was turned out by his own production company, he probably welcomed this opportunity for a change of pace; when it flopped at the box office, he reluctantly returned to his floppy-haired rom-com persona. However, he does a sterling job as the doctor who is determined to solve the mystery of why a man died on his operating table and then appeared to have no existence in the hospital records. It seems that eminent physicial Gene Hackman has been experimenting on homeless men that society supposedly won't miss in order to produce a formula that will help thousands of neurologically-damaged people. He is abetted by crook FBI man David Morse and local cop Bill Nunn, who will go as far as necessary to stop Grant's inquires, including planting drugs in his flat and just about killing him at various stages of the action. The ethical question of whether the death of a few 'unimportant' folk justifies great scientific advances obviously left the paying movie audience cold and the film something of a box-office failure. Pity that, since it could have created greater career possibilities for a very able actor. Oh, by the way, Sarah Jessica Parker is also in this film and the less said about her unbelievable non-role, the better.

Rewatching both of these movies were pleasant enough pursuits. Perhaps I'll feel the same in some years time about those movies which I dismissed at the start of this entry, but somehow I don't really believe that any distance will make the Will Smith starrer a more appealing watch or that I would really want to view the biopic of a murdered black rapper a second time.
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