Thursday, August 18, 2011

Movies: Recent Release Round-Up

There are some good movies in release now. But you may have to work to find them, and you’ll probably have to act fast.

Dominic Cooper made a splash in the best of the summer blockbusters, Captain America, as Iron Man’s dad Howard Stark. But he’s giving the performance(s) of the season in The Devil’s Double. In this liberally adapted true story Cooper plays both Uday Hussein and Latif Yahia, the lookalike soldier compelled into his service. Cooper’s Uday is an unusually vivid psychopath with absolutely no impulse control. The movie, directed by Lee Tamahori, is charged with a feverish paranoia that conveys the sense of life under a dictatorship, with the entire country held hostage to the whims of a madman and his deranged family. For once, the Scarface excesses are come by honestly. Here’s the excellent trailer.

Character of the summer honors go to Gerry Boyle, the drinking, drugging and whoring hero of The Guard. Played by the brilliant Brendan Gleeson, Gerry is the law of Connemara in the west of Ireland. FBI agent Don Cheadle arrives to track down a massive drug shipment – the actual size is in dispute – and a mighty culture clash ensues. Written and directed by John Michael McDonagh and produced by his playwright brother Martin (responsible for In Bruges, one of my favorite films of the last few years), The Guard packs every kind of humor into 96 minutes: running jokes, shaggy dog stories. All of it seen through that uniquely Irish sensibility that is at once angry, profane, highly verbal and attuned to the absurdities of life. Gerry himself is a fully developed, vastly interesting character, and the scenes between him and his terminally ill mother (Fionnula Flanagan), while hilarious, are also poignant. The accents are a wee bit thick; I howled all the way through a scene between Gerry and the local head of the IRA (“There’s still a high command?”) only to discover that Rosemarie didn’t catch a word of it. Of course, that meant I got to perform the scene in its entirety on our way to the cocktail bar. I described the movie to a friend and he said it sounded like a comic version of One False Move, which in a sense it is. It’s also the best thing currently in theaters.