"Duplicity," "Sunshine Cleaning," and "I Love You, Man."
So now that we're into the spring there are finally movies out that I'm excited about seeing. Over the past few days or so I caught up with three.
Duplicity - Ray Koval (Clive Owen) and Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) met at a party in Dubia on July 4, 2003. Ray was MI-6 and after being drugged and having a vital envelope stolen, he found out that Claire was in the spy game as well. She's CIA.
Five years later the two are using their spy skills in the corporate world and they just happen to be each others contacts. Or is it happenstance after all?
Tony Gilroy's second film as a director isn't nearly as heavy as his "Michael Clayton" but the plot is even more involved. The basic set up though is that Ray and Claire have teamed up for a $40 million score. The plan is to steal the big secret project that Burkett and Randle's Howard Tully (Tom Wilkinson) is about to unveil and sell it to the highest bidder. They do this by working for Equikrom's Richard Garsik (Paul Giamatti), but Ray and Claire know that the big pay day will come taking the secret elsewhere.
With a clever script by Gilroy, "Duplicity" is as entertaining as it is twisty. Owen is terrific as Ray. It's the sort of role Cary Grant would have played 50 or 60 years ago and Owen pulls it off with aplomb. Roberts however is her usual bland self. Gilroy writes the character just fine but he never should have cast her. That so many people think she is such a wonderful actress remains a mystery to me.
Giamatti and Wilkinson are great in relatively small roles. Their knockdown, drag out fight scene during the opening credits is easily one of the coolest scenes I've seen in a long time.
"Duplicity" is a bit of good fun and the ending really will surprise you. 7.5/10
Sunshine Cleaning - So the producers of "Little Miss Sunshine" have given us a new film with "Sunshine" in the title with Alan Arkin playing a lovably cantankerous old man. You'd think they're trying to cash in on something here. That said, to simply say it's another "Little Miss Sunshine" would be a disservice to this film written by Megan Holley and directed by Christine Jeffs.
Rose Lorkowski (the always great Amy Adams) has not really been living the dream. She's making ends meet by cleaning the homes of her more successful former classmates while clinging to the hope of getting her real estate license. All the while she's having an affair with her married ex-boyfriend, Mac (Steve Zahn). Mac is an Albuquerque detective who suggests a more lucrative job for Rose. A crime scene cleaner. "They make good money," he insists, for cleaning up the blood in homes and businesses after the bodies and evidence have been collected. Rose is understandably reluctant but she needs money to get her son (Jason Spevack) out of the nightmarish public school that insists he must be put on medication. She decides to give it a try, enlisting her unmotivated sister Norah (Emily Blunt) to help out.
"Sunshine Cleaning" is filled with dark humor but also enough dramatic heft to maintain a sense of reality. The script does have some flaws. Some things, such as the one-armed cleaning supply salesman (Clifton Collins, Jr.) feel like quirks for quirks sake. That said, Collins does a fine job with the part. The cast is able to take some of these elements and make a great many of them work. Adams and Blunt certainly don't look like sisters but their performances and chemistry are so good we absolutely believe they are. Spevack gives a surprisingly good child performance and Arkin is great as always.
"Sunshine Cleaning" is a very enjoyable movie and one that promises to be a word of mouth hit. It is currently in limited release. In the Seattle area it plays at the Guild 45th, the Egyptian, and Bellevue's Lincoln Square. 7.5/10
I Love You, Man - There's a common phenomenon known as a man's woman. The kind whose friends all seem to be guys because she relates more to them than she does to other women. What you don't hear as often about is the woman's man. The kind of guy who's a great boyfriend and who gets along well with women wherever he goes. Peter Klaven (Paul Rudd) is that kind of guy. When he gets engaged to Zooey (Rashida Jones, Karen from "The Office"), she spends the remainder of the evening calling all of her closest friends, of which she has many. Zooey asks who Peter wants to call, but he really doesn't have an answer. When we see him at work the next day he's clearly more at ease talking to his female co-workers than he is with Tevin (Rob Huebel of "Inconsiderate Cell Phone Man" fame), who just makes crass remarks and forwards filthy internet videos.
Worried that he won't even have a best man for the wedding, Peter decides he needs to make some friends. His brother Robbie (Andy Samberg) suggests setting up some "man dates" to make some friends. And so Peter's incredibly awkward journey begins. In less capable hands, Peter would come off as a loser, even a little bit scary. But Rudd makes us feel for Peter and more than once I found myself identifying with him a little more than I would have liked to. He's a nice guy that would make friends easily if he didn't try so hard. Just when he's about to give up though, he meets Sydney Fife (Jason Segel). The two instantly connect. Peter appreciates Sydney's honesty and Sydney is impressed with Peter's choice of sandwich. At first Zooey is excited for Peter, but the road ahead is going to get a little bumpy.
Written and directed by John Hamburg (atoning for the dreadful "Along Came Polly"), "I Love You, Man" is funny, highly quotable, funny, endlessly entertaining, funny, and thoroughly enjoyable. Rudd and Segel are so perfect together (whether they're playing Rush songs in Sydney's man cave or running afoul of an angry Lou Ferrigno) that you're left with a smile that will last a long time. These two bring these characters fully to life. Sydney could have come off as psychotic as played by many actors, but Segel plays him as a guy with a big heart who just happens to have a few anger issues and who occasionally puts his foot in his mouth (which hurts Peter more than it hurts him).
It's been awhile since I had so much fun with a movie and whether the line was written by Hamburg or improvised by Segel, "Broseph Goebbels" has to be one of the funniest things I've ever heard. Whether you're seeing it with your girlfriend, your boyfriend, or your best friend, "I Love You, Man" is a movie you will love...man. 8.5/10