October 9, 2008
No summary available. Rated PG for thematic content, violence and language involving racism, and for brief sensuality.
‘Body of Lies'” “Rendition.” “Redacted.” “The Kingdom.” “In the Valley of Elah.” “Lions for Lambs.” They’re all movies about the war on terror that nobody has wanted to see, either because the topic is too daunting or too much of a downer, or it’s simply too soon after 9/11.
Soon, you’ll be able to add “Body of Lies” to that list, even though it’s probably the most worthwhile and least preachy of the bunch. The pieces would all seem to be in place for a compelling take on this complex topic: strong work from acting heavyweights Russell Crowe and Leonardo DiCaprio; an intricate script from William Monahan, an Academy Award winner for “The Departed”; and the virtuoso visual styling of director Ridley Scott.
Of course, it looks great as it bounces breathlessly between Iraq and Jordan, Qatar and the Netherlands, Dubai and the Virginia suburbs. And yet the result, with its many explosions and shootouts, too often feels like a generic action picture, albeit one with weightier stuff on its mind. Based on the novel of the same name by Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, whose knowledge of the subject matter would seem to be unimpeachable, “Body of Lies” follows undercover CIA operative Roger Ferris (DiCaprio), who’s trying to ferret out the mastermind behind a series of anonymous bombings around the world.
At the same time, Ferris’ boss, Ed Hoffman (Crowe), is running surveillance and plotting strategy from home with the help of his ever-present cell-phone headset and laptop. But despite their shared goals and mutual dependence, Ferris and Hoffman often end up miscommunicating and undermining each other. This becomes especially true when Ferris tries to chat up the smooth Jordanian intelligence chief (Mark Strong, who nearly steals the whole movie). R for strong violence, including some torture, and for language throughout. 128 min. Two and a half stars out of four.
Recommended Stories For You
“City of Ember” ” No summary available. Rated PG for mild peril and some thematic elements. 95 min.
“The Duchess” ” The cinched corsets, the mountains of upswept hair, the richly textured, intricately detailed costumes. Sure, “The Duchess” is a lavish exercise in style over substance, but it’s a well-crafted, superbly acted one. Keira Knightley brings her usual bright energy and sly charm to the role of Georgiana Spencer, the Duchess of Devonshire, and she manages to find the subversive humor within the artistically straightforward direction from Saul Dibb.
Unsurprisingly, the star of “Pride & Prejudice” and “Atonement” seems perfectly comfortable in yet another period piece; this one begins in 1774 England, when Georgiana was a 17-year-old bride. But the filmmakers ” and the movie’s marketing machine ” obviously are trying hard to make the picture seem contemporary by pushing the idea that Georgiana was the first “It Girl,” with her elaborate parties and influential fashion sense. It also doesn’t hurt their argument that she was an ancestor of Princess Diana, who similarly was trapped in a loveless royal marriage and found herself the topic of endless gossip. Working from the biography by Amanda Foreman, Dibb and fellow screenwriters Jeffrey Hatcher and Anders Thomas Jensen play up Georgiana’s glamour and the tragically soapy elements of her life, all of which makes for compelling viewing. But they don’t delve deeply enough into the darker parts of her personality, such as her proclivities for drinking and gambling. You’re sometimes left wondering what truly drives her, beyond a sense of propriety and a love for her children ” all girls, for a while, to the dismay of her distant husband, who yearns for an heir.
Ralph Fiennes is chilling as the exceedingly pragmatic Duke of Devonshire, but he’s also a good enough actor to convey some much-needed glimmers of humanity within this seemingly bloodless figure. PG-13 for sexual content, brief nudity and thematic material. 105 min. Three stars out of four.
“Quarantine” ” No summary available. Rated R for bloody violent and disturbing content, terror and language. 89 min.