Morgan Freeman knows this isn’t his defining role. Mention the five-time Oscar nominee – he won once, for his supporting turn in 2004’s Million Dollar Baby – and most people are reminded of the 1994 prison drama The Shawshank Redemption, or maybe Driving Miss Daisy (1989), the role that elevated him from respected character actor to household name.
Miguel Sapochnik’s love letter to American health care and the subprime lenders who felled the country’s economy takes us 20 years into a bleak, bloody future where artificial organs are sold at a premium ($600,000 for a synthetic heart) and reclaimed by knife-wielding thugs once clients default on their payments.
Remy (Jude Law) is one of those thugs, coldly carving up the hopeless saps whose bodies are essentially on loan from his employer, the Union Corporation. He is unmoved by the grislier aspects of his work, perhaps because he buys so readily into the company credo. “You’re not taking a life,” his boss (a smugly soulless Liev Schreiber) explains. “You’re keeping the Union viable so we can continue to give it.”
Former Saturday Night Live player Tracy Morgan has by now trademarked the dizzy persona that has served him well on the NBC ensemble comedy 30 Rock and here, in Kevin Smith’s weightless new farce, as a New York cop hunting a vicious gang leader and a stolen baseball card. He is self-absorbed, endearingly eccentric and rarely at a loss for words, especially when logic escapes him. He’s never all there.
It is the dawn of a new decade, a time for reflection and self-improvement. In that spirit, I humbly submit my list of movie-related resolutions, complete with links. If you'd like to suggest any New Year's resolutions for me, yourself or anyone else, feel free to drop me a line.
The Sonoma International Film Festival kicks off tonight with the Northern California premiere of The Answer Man, a shrewdly amusing drama starring Jeff Daniels (The Lookout, Traitor) as the author of a spiritual self-help book.
The film, which earned critical raves and a Grand Jury Prize nomination at Sundance, marks the feature debut of writer-director John Hindman, who was able to lure Daniels to the project on the strength of his script alone. (At the time, Hindman had no movie deal, much less a budget for big-name talent.) Daniels, whose reclusive writer believes none of his own bestselling psychobabble, heads a talent-rich cast featuring Lauren Graham, Kat Dennings and Juno’s Olivia Thirlby.
Just as the Grateful Dead have been fairly and unfairly blamed for inspiring the aimless noodling and whimsical indulgences of jam-band progeny like Phish and Blues Traveler, so too has M. Night Shyamalan born the brunt of criticism for the blindsiding, 11th-hour twists popularized by his 1999 thriller The Sixth Sense.