Friday, December 26, 2008

Doubt - Movie Review

Doubt (PG-13) 104 minutes B
Trying to break my own heart

Starring Meryl Streep, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Amy Adams, and Viola Davis

John Patrick Shanley's Doubt was a Pulitzer Prize-winning play and now he has adapted it for the big screen. After winning an Oscar (screenwriting) in the late 80's for Moonstruck, and making his directorial debut in 1990- Joe Versus the Volcano, Doubt could be considered a "comeback" for Shanley.

I had a hard time coming up with a final grade for this movie because the acting is so superb, but as Boston Globe film critic Wesley Morris said, "it never managed to boil my blood or break my heart."

Set in 1964 at a Bronx, NY Catholic school, Father Flynn (Hoffman), a young, idealistic priest is suspected of having an inappropriate relationship with the school's first African American student. Sister Aloysius (Streep), the school's principle and head nun appears to have a heart of steel; her old fashion traditions are outdated and insolent. She is suspicious of Father Flynn and it is never revealed exactly why, but it's an obvious clash of new school versus old school. Several things in the film are vague, but that's part of what makes it so good.

If you have a catholic school past, this film is sure to unlock some bittersweet memories. I think the ending is especially great because it sums up the state of faith and devotion.

Meryl Streep is a goddess, she will be nominated for an Oscar (I have my certainty!), Viola Davis is very strong in a small role, Philip Seymour Hoffman is always brilliant, and Amy Adams is steady, cute and likable if not underwhelming.

I would consider this a successful comeback for Shanley, even though he failed to break my heart.
Bonus DVD Review - DVD release date October 31, 2008

Born on the Fourth of July (R) 145 minutes B-
History repeats itself

Starring Tom Cruise, Kyra Sedgwick, Willem Dafoe, Tom Berenger, Tom Sizemore, William Baldwin, Vivica A. Fox, and Lili Taylor

A star-studded cast and what many consider Tom Cruise's best acting performance. But there's something about Oliver Stone films that don't sit right with me. This is a good film, not Cruise's best work, and not a film I'd care to see again. A little drawn out and over done, but effective and powerful.

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