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“The Adjustment Bureau”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Fate is a tricky thing. Some would say that you’re in control of the outcome of your own life, and others would say it is all just part of the master plan. And, both might just be right; well that’s to say if there is any truth to the new Matt Damon film, The Adjustment Bureau. Based on a short story by Philip K. Dick, The Adjustment Bureau brings a Hitchcockian take to Dick’s usual “what if” theories. I’m a big fan of his work including: Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly to name just a few. But what is really great about writer/director George Nolfi’s take on “The Adjustment Team,” is his non-Hollywood approach to the material. Most filmmakers would want the agents of the Adjustment Bureau to be these gun toting, bad-ass “do as we say or we’ll end you” type of characters, but Nolfi opted to go the exact opposite direction with his bureau. They do impose authority, but at the same time they also have this sense of the common man, even though they are clearly implied as not being human. I don’t want to give too much away, so I’ll just leave it at that. But, it’s Nolfi’s realistic look at this sci-fi, if not supernatural world, that really makes this movie something you might not expect.

In The Adjustment Bureau, Matt Damon plays David Norris an up-and-coming politician on the brink of winning a seat in the U.S. Senate. But, when his first campaign for the Senate seat fails, the wind seems to be taken out of David’s sails and it could mean the end of his political career. That’s where fate needs to step in, or I should say the Adjustment Bureau? You see, David Norris has a much bigger role to play in the grand scheme of things, which is why the bureau has been watching him for quite some time so that his life can continue to go according to the master plan. In order to insure that David stays on track, the bureau sets up a chance meeting for him in a men’s room with a contemporary dancer named Elise, played by Emily Blunt. They hope that Elise’s free spirit will inspire David to give a speech that will set his political path back on track. Now, I’ve heard a lot of critics and people talking about this film, and it amazes me just how many people have no real idea of the reasoning behind the conflict in this movie. Most people think that David gets into trouble with the bureau because he manages to meet Elise again on a city bus. But, the real reason is that he makes it to his office 10 minutes earlier than he was supposed to, and sees the bureau when he shouldn’t have. The Elise thing is just a coincidence, one that later is revealed to be a much bigger problem, and yes ultimately becomes the new conflict. But this whole thing starts because of solar panels, not Elise.

I really liked The Adjustment Bureau! It was really well done. Now, I got to see a test screening for The Adjustment Bureau last year, and even though I really liked it, the ending kind of knocked the rating down a bit for me. But, I’m very glad to report that that ending is no longer in the film. (If you would like to know the alternate ending, I’ll be posting it in the comment section.) There are a few holes here and there when it comes to the inner working of the bureau, but they can easily be forgiven. Matt Damon and Emily Blunt have amazing chemistry together and really carry the supernatural premise of this movie into a romantic thriller. As I mentioned before, the personality and attitude of the bureau agents was great, I think having it be just like any other job to them was a brilliant move. I like that even when they call in the heavy hitter Thompson, played by General Zod himself Terence Stamp, he’s still a normal Joe. Sure he’s a little bit more cold-hearted than the others, but at no point does he threaten or use violence to get the job done. He just doesn’t sugarcoat it for David. There need to be more movies like this! The more I think about this move the more I like. It might be a bit early, but I think it’s safe to say The Adjustment Bureau will be in the running for a few Banshees next year.

Rating:


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“Inception”
a review by Darby O’Gill

Okay, I’m going to do the best I can to write a review for Inception. But, I don’t want to give anything away, or even talk about the events in the movie for that matter. So, if any of you know how I can possibly achieve this, please feel free to email me. Okay, I’m also realizing that writing this, and waiting for you to email me is probably not going to work either, so… Well, shit.

Here’s the gist of it, Dom Cobb (Leonardo DiCaprio) is a well trained thief, but his methods are anything but ordinary. With access to a person’s dreams, Cobb and his team perform an extraction, which is the art of stealing a secret from deep within the dreamer’s subconscious while the mind is at its most vulnerable state. But now, Cobb’s team is faced with the impossible act of inception, which the planting of an idea in the dreamer’s subconscious. Inception is the welcomed return of writer/director Christopher Nolan’s art house approach to filmmaking. His early work of Following and Memento, paved the way for Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, but with Inception he take the audience back to that place where not everything is what it seems to be. It has been awhile since a film has given up its control of meaning to the audience. Much like the last scene in Blade Runner, the last scene of Inception is very much up to the viewer’s perception. This would be another reason why reviewing it would not be as easy as one might think. I have my theories, and know what the movie means to me, but at the same time don’t want to let them get in the way of your own interpretation of the movie, especially if you haven’t seen it yet. I will tell you this; it is one of the smartest and most visually amazing films of the year. The zero gravity fight scene is to die for! And, when you find out that most of it is done without the use of CGI… Well, what can I say? Wow! This one is a must see, and all I can say is that I really enjoyed it. It’s a little long, but doesn’t feel too long, and it will most definitely give you plenty to talk about on the drive home. If you would like to talk about Inception in more detail, or want to hear my theories, leave a comment and we’ll discuss it there. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, please know that below this review will be nothing but SPOILERS, so you’ve been warned.

Rating:



“Surrogates”
a review Darby O’Gill

In the near future people no longer leave there homes, instead they jack-in to a surrogate robot that they operate like a car. The really trippy thing is that surrogates also drive cars, so a person can operate a surrogate and a car at the same time. Did I just blow your minds? The movie is based on the 2005 comic book series The Surrogate and takes place in a world of robots, where crime is almost nonexistent, almost. When an unknown device seems to kill not only Surrogates, but also their operators, Detective Greer, played by Bruce Willis, finds himself investigating the first homicide in over a decade. Surrogates, being machines, are stronger and faster than a normal person. They can also be or look like anything. It’s the internet in everyday life. What looks like a hot twenty-eight year old girl, is really a fat fifty-four year old man. It kind of makes you wonder why there isn’t more crime. If anyone could look like anything, why wouldn’t they be robbing banks or something? I’m getting off subject, but it’s a good point. Back to the story at hand; while investigating the murders, Greer’s Surrogate gets destroyed, and Greer is forced to go out into the world without a Surrogate to continue his investigation, and uncovers a much deeper plot against the Surrogates. It’s really cool the way they deal with this part of the story. Willis’ character is just overwhelmed by his senses the first time out on his own. You really realize these people have been locked up in their houses with no real contact with the outside world, and it’s almost like quitting an addiction. At times you really can’t help but notice just how close we could be to that. Every day something else comes out that keeps us in touch with people, but without ever having to see them. It’s kind of scary. Even as I’m writing this, I’m thinking wow this sounds like a great movie, and I would like nothing more than to tell you that this is the case, but sadly it’s not. The problem with Surrogates is that they had a chance to do something new, but instead just seemed to play it safe, and go through the motions. This truly could have been the next Blade Runner, well okay, maybe not. But, it could have been something great. The ideas are there, but everything you see is something you’ve pretty much seen before. It’s a fun movie and well worth seeing, but I just wish they would have taken it to that next level. Would somebody, please give Hollywood their balls back! We’re so close to getting something good here. The one thing I really did like wasn’t in the movie. Elizabeth Banks! I’ve always enjoyed her performances in movies, but I think I’m an even bigger fan of hers now. She was an executive producer on this film, and yet she doesn’t appear in it. As a producer, she could have easily given herself a role in the movie, but she didn’t. The only time most actors produce a project is to guarantee they can be in it, but not Ms. Banks. It says a lot about her character, and I am now a bigger fan because of it.

Rating:
3 Little People