Posts Tagged ‘Ethan Hawke’

This week’s releases include: a possessed house; a secret section of history; the second chapter of an adult animation; a holiday picture; a vengeful Death; a medieval sequel; a classic novel committed to film; a surprise visit from the stork; the forlorn find happiness; a super dysfunctional family; a radical couple; and a zombie sideshow. (more…)

Cinematic expressions of love for and in the Big Apple have occurred for decades, but few have been this obvious of their intentions. New York, I Love You is openly making its declaration through a series of vignettes by different directors.

In this film, love flourishes 24/7 – at the café, in the park, on the subway, on the corner and everywhere else. A host of outstanding directors and all-star cast brings life to each story.

With such a variety of directors, actors and perspectives, this picture really does have something for everyone. Personally, my favourite chapter featured Ethan Hawke – a New Yorker to the bone if there ever was one – and his late night pick-up of beautiful woman gone awry. His confidence and command of language is simultaneously charming and appalling, but it is the encounter as a whole that leaves a lasting impression.

Special features include: two bonus segments written and directed by Scarlett Johansson and Andrey Zvyagintsev; and director interviews with Brett Ratner, Yvan Attal, Josh Marston, Mira Nair and Shunji Iwai.

<strong>Wesley Snipes and Don Cheadle star in Brooklyn's Finest (courtesy of Alliance Films)</strong>

Wesley Snipes and Don Cheadle star in Brooklyn's Finest (courtesy of Alliance Films)

Shifting from Los Angeles to New York, director Antoine Fuqua takes his passion for good and bad cops to a new level of moral ambiguity broadening from one day to one week.

Eddie Dugan (Richard Gere) is a burned out veteran just one week away from retirement, but a new project has him “mentoring” fresh recruits in his final days; Sal Procida (Ethan Hawke) is a narcotics officer that is becoming increasingly desperate to provide a better life for his growing brood and chronically ill wife; and Clarence “Tango” Butler (Don Cheadle) is an undercover cop that’s been deep for so long the lines between law and criminal is beginning to blur, especially in regards to his prison buddy and infamous drug dealer Caz (Wesley Snipes). Over seven days, Eddie, Sal and Tango are hurdled towards a destiny that will culminate within one of New York’s most dangerous precincts.

Similar to Training Day, the film is harsh and gritty unfolding in the streets and back alleys of a notoriously drug-ridden neighbourhood. The police officers are consistently faced with tough choices that call their loyalty to the badge into question. During the two moments in the film when each character is confronted with a life-altering decision, parallel editing is used to intercut the scenes and build tension. As the characters even cross paths briefly the second time, the device genuinely works in highlighting the intensity of the forthcoming events.

The acting is extraordinary as the level of talent on the screen at any one time is commanding. Hawke truly thrives when portraying characters at a crossroad. At the same time, his determination to follow his selected path is unsettling and true. Cheadle has played this conflicted, frustrated character before, but he never fails to impress in these trying roles. Snipes is seeing his first theatrical release in seven attempts, nevertheless proving he still has what it takes to turn in a solid dramatic performance. Gere is uncommonly disheartened while remaining impossibly dedicated. It’s a type he hasn’t played before, but he manages to deliver. The only complaint can be made against extended, on-screen sexual encounters between him and a prostitute.

Brooklyn’s Finest is a hard-edged tale of corruption and loyalty clashing as the three men must choose one alliance over another, simultaneously destroying their relationship with the other. As they struggle to decide, it is easy to understand their difficulty because the narrative has clearly laid out how they got to this point and what the consequences of each choice will be. Alternatively, other than Ellen Barkin and her position of power, there is a lack of pervasive female characters that transcend the distinction of simply ornamental.

Though one may not agree with the moral high grounds that Fuqua takes in his films, he always delivers a compelling picture.

Fans of the vampire genre are forced to sift through a lot of bad films to find the good ones – Daybreakers is one of those gold nuggets in the sand.

Dalton (Ethan Hawke) is the head hematologist at Bromley Marks, a multinational corporation seeking to develop a blood substitute. The majority of the world’s population has been turned into vampires, which greatly decreases their food supply causing hideous mutations and increasing mayhem. The few remaining reminders of humanity are attempting to ban together and save their nearly extinct species. Their cause is now driven by one thing – they hold the key to a cure.

The dynamics of the relationships between various characters is one of the more interesting elements of the film. Dalton abhors killing humans to survive, which he hopes the creation of a blood substitute will eliminate the need for. On the other hand, his brother is a member of the government army that hunts humans to replenish the food supply. The head of Bromley Marks’ daughter is a resistant human in hiding. And the entire vampire population is slowly turning into less recognizable monsters.

The social commentary of a population starving to death is obvious. Furthermore, the ability of the more affluent to sustain their food sources more readily is also present. However, all of this is simply the setting for the story rather than the focus. As the directors Michael and Peter Spierig said, it’s first about creating a fun movie watching experience.

The vampire mythology is a mixed bag in this film. They don’t have reflections, they heal quickly but not instantly, they require blood to survive (but it must be human to avoid mutation), they explode when staked and the sun is fatal. On the other hand, it is the narrative’s take on the last point that may be too far a stretch for some vampire fans. Also, the simplicity of the turning process is somewhat dull even though it serves to explain the world’s current predicament.

Hawke has always portrayed the tortured soul well and here there is no difference. The struggle between his new life and his old one is constantly lurking beneath the surface. Willem Dafoe plays a man that is the key to the cure for vampirism. He also has some of the best lines in the film, which he delivers with impeccable timing. Sam Neill is the head of Bromley Marks, having stayed at the top with ruthless tactics and his complete abandonment of humanity. However, he drew cheers from the Midnight Madness audience when he exclaimed, “I was playing a Canadian,” as the Australian directors chose to set the film in America to make it more marketable.

Many of the images in the film, such as the blood harvesting room, the elimination of the mutated vampires or the slow-motion attack by a group of vampires, are striking. There are also fun elements, such as adding blood to your coffee at the local coffee shop or the modifications to cars so vampires don’t have to give up driving in the day.

The brothers that debuted with Undead have come a long way, managing to add to a genre that has been long abused by substandard approaches.

The title refers to the old adage “What doesn’t kill makes you stronger.” Lucky for Brian Goodman – the real life story’s subject and the film’s director – the saying proved true for him.

Brian (Mark Ruffalo) and Paulie (Ethan Hawke) are brothers in life and crime. Beginning as kids doing small jobs for the neighbourhood boss, the boys grew into professional criminals. Even though Brian has a wife (Amanda Peet) and two kids to support, it’s Paulie, the single ladies man, set to take action because he doesn’t think they’re paid enough for their services. Eventually the guys get busted and serve five years in prison. Once released, Brian tries to go straight and be a better father while Paulie falls right back into old habits. In the end, it becomes a question of whether Paulie will pull Brian back down with him.

The movie is gritty and doesn’t pull any punches – it tells it like it was. Brian’s crack addiction is shown under a harsh light as well as the strain it put on his relationship with his family. Even though their stay in prison is widely skipped, they do show the beating of a convicted child molester because it was a significant event and, more simply, because it happened.

Ruffalo and Hawke are outstanding. Ruffalo’s greatest moments in the film occur after he starts smoking crack. His mood swings and desperation, which is so strong he runs away from a hospital and his loved ones just to get a hit, are heartbreakingly believable. Hawke becomes the charming tough guy who is never going to change and knows it too well. Peet turns in a surprisingly raw performance as a woman helplessly in love with no other options.

The DVD audio commentary with Goodman and producer/co-star Donnie Wahlberg provides insight into the production process, the real-life inspirations and Goodman’s experience as a first-time director. The “making of” featurette speaks a lot about how the actors know Goodman and became involved with the project. Some of the deleted and alternate scenes are surprisingly darker than some of the scenes in the film, but for the most part they are uneventful.