FilmJerk Favorites

A group of unique directors and the essential works that you've got to see.

||| Sergio Leone |||
Sergio Leone

Leone’s career is remarkable in its unrelenting attention to both American culture and the American genre film, exploring the mythic America he created with each successive film examining the established characters in greater depth.

Only his second feature (a remake of Kurosawa’s Yojimbo), Leone's landmark "spaghetti western" caused a revolution and features Clint Eastwood in his breakthrough role as "The Man With No Name". This classic brutal drama of feuding families wasn’t the first spaghetti Western, but it was far and away the most successful up to that time.

Plot is of minimal interest, but character is everything to Leone, who places immense meaning in the slightest flick of an eyelid, extensively using the extreme close-up on the eyes to reveal any feeling, as demonstrated by Clint, who squints his way through this slam-bang sequel to A Fistful of Dollars as a wandering gunslinger that must combine forces with his nemesis to track down a wanted killer.

The final chapter in the groundbreaking trilogy follows Eastwood, Lee Van Cleef, and Eli Wallach as they form an uneasy alliance to find a stash of hidden gold. Leone focuses on his central theme as they find themselves facing greed, treachery, and murder, showing that the desire for wealth and power turns men into ruthless creatures who violate land and family and believe that a man’s death is less important than how he faces it.

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Laws of Attraction

By BrianOrndorf

April 27th, 2004

Need a reminder why star power is so important? Watch “Laws of Attraction” and witness how Pierce Brosnan and especially Julianne Moore hold up this painfully erratic lawyer bonanza. The narrative and the direction don’t quite know what to do or where to go, but watching these two class actors banter, smooch, and, in Moore’s case, outright glow, is almost enough to recommend this disappointing screwball comedy.


Audrey Miller (Moore) is New York’s finest female divorce attorney, keeping herself in line by avoiding men and hanging out with her youth-obsessed mother (Frances Fisher). When she finds her match in fellow lawyer Daniel Rafferty (Brosnan), the two engage in a little friendly courtroom competition that blossoms into a sexual relationship, and soon a drunken wedding. When one of the biggest divorce cases in the city comes calling, Audrey and Daniel finds themselves on opposite sides of the case, which forces them to evaluate just how their relationship came to be.

“Laws of Attraction” is a nice stab at a screwball romantic comedy, but it falls short in both those areas. Directed by the unremarkable Peter Howitt (“Johnny English,” “AntiTrust”), “Attraction” begins as a loose battle of the sexes, moves into fish-out-of-water comedy, then climaxes as a deeply serious meditation on marriage. Those are heavy targets, and Howitt doesn’t have the facility to transition between the comedy and dramatic beats, leaving a rather uninspired experience in his wake.

The most glaring hole in this suspiciously short (90 minutes) movie is that Daniel and Audrey are at their best trying to one up each other in the games of love and law. The film’s opening act is dedicated solely to the foibles of their reluctant courtship and professional battles. The film reaches a sweet pitch of comedy and flirtation in these opening moments that is all but impossible to resist. Howitt seems to feel differently, and eventually the comedy gives way to an awkward sequence set rather inexplicably in Ireland (complete with Guinness drinking contests and traditional step dancing), and a final act that halts the comedic flow in a bid to make the audience truly care about these two characters that they’ve barely met. “Laws” doesn’t fuse together the way Howitt envisions it, ending up as a grab bag of cinematic textures that make for an uneasy sit.

Fortunately, the two stars keep “Laws” from becoming a total drag. Don’t believe in the power of superstardom? Take a gander at how Brosnan and Moore literally own the frame in their starring roles. Two actors of immeasurable charm and wit, Brosnan and Moore do their very best to save the material, and they only halfway succeed through their charisma and chemistry. Moore is the real surprise, as she’s rarely afforded opportunities to do comedy. Though burdened with some eye-rolling character traits (sugaraholic, manhater), Moore is responsible for the lion’s share of the laughs, which is something to say if anyone saw her try comedy before in 2001’s “Evolution.” Breathtakingly captured by ace cinematographer Adrian Biddle (“The World Is Not Enough,” “Willow,” “Aliens”), Moore is a treat to watch, double-fisting pink snoballs and working overtime to save this sinking ship. I commend her effort, and I must admit that I watched in awe as she almost single-handedly carried the movie.

My rating: C