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Posts Tagged ‘Guy Pearce’

Guy Pearce

“THE LAST VERMEER”  My rating: B- (Opens in theaters Nov. 20)

117 minutes | MPAA rating: R

In “The Last Vermeer” Aussie Guy Pearce delivers a hugely entertaining performance as Han van Meergren, a charmingly decadent artiste and all-round roue in post-war Copehagen.

Oozing hedonistic hubris, intellectual arrogance and casual amorality through his Einstein-level frizzy gray hair and mustache, Pearce’s van Meergren is the center of attention whenever he appears on screen.

Which, sad to say, isn’t nearly often enough. For though he is arguably the most important character in
Dan Friedkin’s “The Last Vermeer” he — like Orson Welles’ Harry Lime in “The Third Man” — gets relatively little screen time.

The screenplay (credited to John Orloff, James McGee, Mark Fegus and Hawk Ostby…very nearly a case of too many cooks) is based on real events.

The Nazis have been defeated and Jospeh Piller (Claes Bang), a Dane who fled the occupation to fight in the Canadian army, has been assigned the task of tracking down art masterpieces stolen by the Germans. His job is to return these priceless objects to their rightful owners (in may cases Jewish families) and prosecute the  collaborators who made the pillaging possible.

A previously unknown Vermeer painting — recovered from a Berlin-bound train and intended for Herman Goering’s personal collection — sets Pillar on a quest.  He’s accompanied by thuggish aide Esper (Roland Moller) who provides muscle when it’s needed and by the investigative genius Minna (Vicky Krieps).

Their sleuthing leads them to van Meergren, a failed painter who was known to have partied with the Germans and who somehow became fabulously rich during the war — presumably by selling pilfered masterpieces to the enemy.   If that is indeed the case, van Meergren faces the death penalty. Collaborators are daily being executed in Copenhagen’s public squares.

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Guy Pearce

“DISTURBING THE PEACE” My rating: C- 

90 minutes | MPAA rating:

Apparently Aussie star Guy Pearce is the newest member of the don’t-send-the-script-send-the-check club. That’s the only explanation for his presence in the laughably inept “Disturbing the Peace.”

In York Alec Shackleton’s unintentionally goofy actioner, Pearce plays Jim Dillon, who left the Texas Rangers after accidentally shooting and paralyzing his partner in a hostage standoff. Now he’s the law in the tiny burg of Horse Cave. Apparently the place has a very low crime rate, because Jim has for years refused to carry a gun.

This proves problematical when a gang of rogue motorcyclists invade the place, robbing the local bank and hanging around so that they can rip off an armored car bringing big bucks from a nearby casino.

With many of his fellow residents being held captive, Jim must use his wits (we’re talking MacGyver-style booby traps) to foil the baddies; it’s just a matter of time, though, before he picks up a firearm and gets down to serious business.

Chuck Hustmyre’s screenplay is a mashup of ideas from “High Noon” (a more-or-less real-time narrative), Brando’s “The Wild One” (bad boys on bikes) and “Die Hard” (with a small town instead of a high-rise office building).

Hustmyre’s bio claims he’s a retired federal agent who has written several crime books, yet there’s nothing even remotely authentic about “Disturbing the Peace.”  Its depiction of small town life and law enforcement plays like the work of someone whose entire world view has been shaped by watching straight-to-video crime thrillers in his mother’s basement.

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Saoirse Ronan as Mary Stuart

“MARY QUEEN OF SCOTS” My rating: B-

124 minutes | MPAA rating:R

The story of Mary Stuart, the Scottish Queen, and her long-running rivalry with England’s Elizabeth I  is one of history’s great dramas. Heck, it even ends in a beheading.

So why do cinematic treatments of the yarn always feel so hidebound and emotionally remote?

In part it may be because the two women never laid eyes on one another. Their stories run on parallel tracks, but there is no intersection.

The new “Mary Queen of Scots,” with which storied stage director Josie Rourke makes her feature film debut, solves that problem (sort of) by inventing a meeting between the two monarchs. This allows two terrific actresses — Saoirse Ronan and Margo Robbie — an opportunity for a bit of hand-to-hand thespian combat.

But it’s not enough to make this big fat slice of history dramatically compelling.

Which is not to say there’s nothing to like here.  The film is filled with spectacular scenery and some of the dankest, dimmest castle interiors in movie history. The costuming is lavish.

And then of course you have these two actresses playing a long-distance game of diplomatic chess with the future of the English monarchy at stake.

The film begins with Mary (Ronan) returning to Scotland after a long sojourn in France, where she had married a prince who promptly died on her. She reclaims her throne from her brother James (Andrew Rothney), who will launch a civil war against her.

Mary poses a real threat to her cousin Elizabeth (Robbie), who is unmarried and indifferent about producing an heir.  Should Elizabeth die childless, the Roman Catholic Mary would inherit the throne of Protestant England.

Let the machinations begin!!!

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Paul Rudd as Moe Berg

“THE CATCHER WAS A SPY” My rating: C+

98 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Crammed with famous faces and centering on a bit of real-life WW2 cloak-and-dagger that almost defies credulity, “The Catcher Was a Spy” is both a thriller and a flawed character study of a man who refused to be characterized.

Indeed, even before he was recruited by the O.S.S. and trained to be an assassin, Morris “Moe” Berg (portrayed here by Paul Rudd…probably too boyish for the role) was a bundle of puzzling contradictions.

Berg had degrees from Columbia, Princeton and the Sorbonne; he spoke seven or eight languages fluently and could get by in several others.

Yet he made his living as a professional baseball player, serving as the second string catcher for the Boston Red Sox.

As presented in Ben Lewin’s film, he is well spoken, erudite and bisexual, augmenting his domestic life with a live-in girlfriend (Sienna Miller) with visits to underground gay nightspots.

Shortly before the beginning of the war Berg was named to an all star team (Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig participated) on a good will tour of Japan.  While there he became convinced that war was inevitable and, on his own, climbed to the roof of a Tokyo skyscraper so that he could film military installations and harbor facilities.

He later presented his reels to William “Wild Bill” Donovan (Jeff Daniels), then running the O.S.S., the precursor to the C.I.A. Donovan was sufficiently impressed by Berg’s intellect, patriotism and facility with foreign languages to give him a job…but not before asking: “Are you queer?”

Berg’s answer sealed the deal: “I’m good at keeping secrets.”

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Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson in "The Rover"

Guy Pearce, Robert Pattinson in “The Rover”

“THE ROVER”   My rating: B- (Opening Jan. 20 at the AMC Town Center)

102 minutes | MPAA rating: R

There must be something about the wide open spaces of Australia’s outback that drives its filmmakers to post-apocalyptic nihilism.

George Miller and the “Mad Max” films.   John Hilcoat with “The Road” and “The Proposition.”

And now David Michôd with “The Rover,” a sweaty, dusty saga about a man in search of his kidnapped car.

Michôd scored a minor coup in 2010 with “Animal Kingdom,” an intimate portrait of a low-level Aussie crime clan that introduced to American audiences the great Jackie Weaver (who nabbed an Oscar nomination). It  was a dark, generally hopeless look at the ties that bind its characters to an evil enterprise.

Now  Michôd goes full-tilt dystopia. The opening credits of “The Rover”  informs us that the story takes place 10 years after “the collapse,” a worldwide economic meltdown that has left most of humanity struggling with chronic poverty.

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Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce

Kristen Wiig, Guy Pearce

“HATESHIP LOVESHIP” My rating: B (Now playing at the Screenland Armour)

104 minutes | MPAA rating: R

It seems that inside every comic genius there lurks a tragedian just itching to break out.

The latest funny person to make the leap into seriousness is former “SNL” star Kristen Wiig, who in “Hateship Loveship” excels at poartraying a lonely woman who risks all on a last desperate attempt at happiness.

Wiig plays Johanna, who as the film begins is a care-giver for an old lady in small-town Iowa. Johanna has no family and has been with the old lady since she was 15 — or more than half her life. As a result she is emotionally and intellectually naive, not to mention painfully shy.

With her employer’s death Johanna finds a new job in the household of lawyer McCauley (Nick Nolte), a widower caring for his teenage granddauther Sabitha  (Hailee Steinfeld, an Oscar nominee for the Coens’ “True Grit”). Her arrival coincides with a rare visit by Sabitha’s father Ken (Guy Pearce), an alcoholic and druggie whose irresponsible driving led to the death of his wife.

Now Ken is trying to convince his father-in-law to invest in his latest get-rich-quick scheme, refurbishing a run-down motel in Chicago. McCauley isn’t buying; besides, he’s never forgiven Ken for the death of his daughter.

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“God Went Surfing with the Devil”

The surfing documentary has been a cinema staple ever since Bruce Brown’s “Endless Summer” back in 1966, but I don’t think we’ve ever seen anything quite like “God Went Surfing with the Devil,” professional skateboarder Alexander Klein’s heady blend of Middle Eastern politics and wave-catching abandon.

Klein’s doc follows activists with Surfing4Peace who are attempting to do their small part for world peace by shepherding a shipment of surfboards into Gaza. They envision Arab enthusiasts joining their Jewish counterparts in riding the waves of Gaza’s sandy beaches.

Sounds like an easy enough task, (more…)

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