DVD Releases: July 11, 2011

Battle: Los Angeles

Director: Jonathan Liebesman

Starring: Aaron Eckhart, Michelle Rodriguez and Bridget Moynahan

Fair Game

Director: Doug Liman

Starring: Sean Penn, Naomi Watts and Sonya Davison

Animal Kingdom

Director: David Michôd

Starring: James Frecheville, Guy Pearce and Joel Edgerton

You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger

Director: Woody Allen

Starring: Josh Brolin, Anthony Hopkins and Naomi Watts

Ironclad

Director: Jonathan English

Starring: Paul Giamatti, Jason Flemyng and Brian Cox

Essential Killing

Director: Jerzy Skolimowski

Starring: Vincent Gallo, Emmanuelle Seigner and Zach Cohen

That’s What I Am

Director: Michael Pavone

Starring: Ed Harris, Chase Ellison and Molly Parker

My Dog Tulip

Director: Paul Fierlinger and Sandra Fierlinger

Starring: Christopher Plummer, Lynn Redgrave and Isabella Rossellini

Auschwitz

Director: Uwe Boll

Starring: Arved Birnbaum, Uwe Boll and Nik Goldman

 

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Review: Fair Game (2010)

Fair Game is a new political conspiracy-thriller from The Bourne Identity and Jumper director Doug Liman.

The film is based on the autobiography of real-life undercover CIA operative Valerie Plame (Naomi Watts), whose career was destroyed and marriage strained to its limits when her covert identity was exposed by a politically motivated press leak.

As a covert officer in the CIA’s Counter-Proliferation Division, Valerie leads an investigation into the existence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. Valerie’s husband, diplomat Joe Wilson (Sean Penn), is drawn into the investigation to substantiate an alleged sale of enriched uranium from Niger. But when the administration ignores his findings and uses the issue to support the call to war, Joe writes a New York Times editorial outlining his conclusions and ignites a firestorm of controversy.

Liman keeps things moving at a tight and efficient pace, but the overall aesthetic is quite dull – mostly existing in subdued shades and dulled environments – and he uses the handheld, shaky camera technique far too much.

The visuals and direction aren’t necessarily are bad, but they are bland and don’t engage with the viewer enough to maintain our attention – Liman was clearly going for a realistic tone but instead misses the mark and creates something fake in the way he overplays the solemnity of the source material.

The script, from John-Henry and Jez Butterworth, feels too convulted, moving from engaging political thriller to uncomfortable and uninteresting family melodrama in a clumsy and equivocal manner.

The performances are uneven. Watts steps into Valerie’s shoes accurately enough, but the material doesn’t have enough depth or emotional heart for her to show her true talent and diversity.

Penn, on the other hand, wonderfully depicts Joe’s inner turmoil, torn between two acts that both seem right in their own way; to protect his family or to expose a political scandal that’s torn his family to pieces.

These characters are are all too simple caricatures of what the filmmakers think these people are really like. They aren’t fleshed out enough for you to feel much sympathy for their personal and career downfalls.

Fair Game asks some interesting questions, but never quite reaches the heights it should, especially considering the powerful source material, renowned direction and world-class acting talent on hand.

UK Box Office – March 11 – 13, 2011

1. Battle: Los Angeles – £1,792,913

2. Rango – £1,539,809

3. Unknown – £1,038,522

4. The Adjustment Bureau – £911,863

5. Hall Pass – £900,936

6. The King’s Speech – £689,809

7. Paul – £559,856

8. Gnomeo & Juliet – £553,485

9. Fair Game – £304,297

10. West Is West – £248,432

Cinema Releases: March 4, 2011

The Adjustment Bureau

Director: George Nolfi

Starring: Matt Damon, Emily Blut and Anthony Mackie

Rango

Director: Gore Verbinski

Starring: Johnny Depp, Isla Fisher and Timothy Olyphant

Unknown

Director: Jaume Collet-Serra

Starring: Liam Neeson, January Jones and Diane Kruger

Ironclad

Director: Jonathan English

Starring: Kate Mara, Brian Cox and Derek Jacobi

The Tempest

Director: Julie Taymor

Starring: Helen Mirren, Felicity Jones and Djimon Hounsou

Archipelago

Director: Joanna Hogg

Starring: Christopher Baker, Kate Fahy and Tom Hiddleston

The African Queen

Director: John Huston

Starring: Humphrey Bogart, Katharine Hepburn and Robert Morley