George Clooney Month #2: The American, Gravity

The American

The American, a 2010 thriller film adapted from Martin Booth’s novel, A Very Private Gentleman, revolves around Jack, a contract killer who tries to protect himself and his identity while he is on a vacation in Italy. Through his handler, Pavel, he meets Mathilde, a mysterious woman who hires him to assemble a sniper gun, Father Benedetto, an inspiring force who guides him, and the enchanting Clara, with whom he begins a romantic relationship that, again, tempts fate and puts him on the run.

George Clooney, as the elusive Jack, is supported by co-stars Violante Placido (Clara), Thekla Reuten (Mathilde), Johan Leysen (Pavel) and Paolo Bonacelli (Father Benedetto). Anton Corbijn, the creative force behind the music videos released by U2 and Depeche Mode, directs the film.

As a fan and photographer of lush, verdant scenery, The American definitely kept me completely engrossed. Stylish, the film captures tranquil, picturesque riverbanks and rolling green hills.

An observant character study, the film focuses on the inner thoughts and moods of a trained killer. Clooney’s reflective, edgy characterization of Jack does not disappoint. He delivers a strong, confident portrayal of the angst-filled assassin. A study of the human condition, the film leads audiences to try to get under Jack’s skin. By precisely detailing Jack’s every movement, it sparks their curiosity about what goes through his mind.

As a thriller, however, it is a little slow-paced. The narrative and hyper focus on character can tire after a while. Its attempt to probe Jack’s mind sometimes falls flat. It may also disappoint as an action movie because of its focus on aesthetics.

In all, The American is an effective movie for an audience whose preference is for poignant thought and reflection. Lovers of suspense and thrill, however, may find the movie cloying and dense.

Gravity Movie Review

Gravity, a science fiction thriller, details the maiden space voyage of a biomedical engineer and a veteran astronaut on board NASA space shuttle, The Explorer. The film details the crew’s attempts to flee to safety after a Russian Missile Strike, on an abandoned satellite, causes a debris cloud to strike the shuttle.

Directed by Alfonso Cuaron, the man behind Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, the film stars George Clooney and Oscar-winning actress, Sandra Bullock, of the Speed and Miss Congeniality films. Co-written by Cuaron’s son, Jonas, it graced the 70th Venice International Film Festival.

Gravity scores highly with its enthralling use of three-dimensional CGI. The stunning visuals effectively engaged and pulled me into the film. Watching the movie, through 3D glasses, was a truly transcendental experience.

NASA astronauts have complimented Cuaron for giving audiences, with dramatic graphics, a realistic experience of space. They highlighted that falling debris is a real and dangerous possibility.

The film also sends the message that man should never defy nature. It stresses that he should never ignore the catastrophic, environmental consequences of space, and other synthetic debris. Spiritual, it challenges his role in nature.

Gripping as it is, the movie is not without flaws.

Bullock’s characterization of Dr Ryan Stone is, at times, unrealistic. Her attempts to portray breathlessness in space are a little awkward. Clooney, who solidly portrays astronaut Matt Kowalski, gives her the dramatic support she needs. All said, connecting to the characters was difficult at times.

The movie, for some, may have too much focus on CGI. The effects took some focus away from the plot and its characters. Moving visuals may stress those who view it through 3D glasses.

All said, those who have a tendency for motion sickness may feel a little overwhelmed after watching the film. There is no denying, however, that it serves action and suspense purposes well.

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