Borderlands (Zev Berman, 2007): 6.5/10

The Magic Flute (Ingmar Bergman, 1975): 7/10

La Guerre Est Finie (Alain Resnais, 1966): 7/10

Speed Racer (The Wachowski Brothers, 2008): 8/10

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Friday, April 11, 2008

Leatherheads (George Clooney, 2008)

If there are two actors who can charm the hell out of me, they are John Krasinski and George Clooney. I'm a huge fan of The Office, and Clooney is pretty much the suavest actor out there. But he also is a pretty talented director, as we've seen with Confessions of a Dangerous Mind (a really underrated film in my eyes) and Good Night and Good Luck. But if he has one problem with directing, its editing himself. All of his films have been just a tad too long, and that's Leatherheads' problem as well. The story of the legitimization of professional football in the mid 1920s, via an aging playboy with a good mind for cheating (Clooney) and a young World War I hero who's also a dynamite football player (Krasinski, playing a little young but who cares). Renee Zellweger plays Lexie Littleton, Chicago Tribune reporter who's sent to follow Krasinski, because something about his war story stinks a bit.

The good: Leatherheads really swings along on the charm of the two leading men. It's funny, it's cute, and, at times, it succeeds at being more than it really is. This movie has something to say about what it means to believe in something, and what professional sports were like before commercialization. But more than that, the witty 20s repartee is more than enough to see the movie. Zellweger and Clooney have lots of snappy back-and-forth, and you even forget that she's squinty and annoying.

The bad: yes, Leatherheads is about 20 minutes too long, and drags a bit in the last third. Also, there's been a lot of talk about how much Clooney revised the 17-year-old script (so much so that he resigned from the WGA proper because he wasn't acknowledged as screenwriter for the film), and it really shows. Krasinski's character Carter is a totally likeable, all-American boy in the first half of the film, but when Lexie gets too close to his story, something in him changes. In a great interview this week with the AV Club, Krasinski comments on how he and Clooney changed the character of Carter from an unlikeable guy to just a misunderstood one. While I think that was a good call, the last third seems to have slipped Clooney's mind, and when Carter changes, it's never really explained. The same goes for the relationship between Lexie and Carter; it's laid out in the first half, and then just dissolves in the second.

So while there are a few inconsistencies in the movie, they're nothing that take away from enjoying the movie in the moment. Two charming men, a quick, funny script, and a love triangle is enough to spend 2 hours with this movie.


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