⋆⋆⋆ out of four stars
Rated: R for sexual content, nudity, pervasive language, some violence and drug use.
The title character of this florid crime comedy could be an escapee from a Tarantino script, all flashy character traits and verbal overkill. As swaggering Cockney safecracker Dom Hemingway, Jude Law goes bold (he carpets the soundtrack with poetically phrased F-bombs) and big (literally so, adding a bull walrus’ coat of blubber). From the first shot, with puffy, nude Dom delivering an uninterrupted, unexpurgated epic ode to the glory of his own sex organ, the character blazes with outlaw charisma and roguish glamour. Then the camera gazes lower on his torso to reveal what’s been going on down there and writer/director Richard Shepard delivers a deflating punch line.
Sprung from prison after 12 years, Dom travels to the south of France to get a suitcase full of hush money he’s owed for not ratting out his dandyish, wealthy Russian boss (Demian Bichir, sporting a vowel-torturing Moscow-Mexican accent). Dom is on his best behavior for the encounter, but his version of good manners parallels the Looney Tunes’ Tasmanian Devil. Once Dom gets talking, he winds himself up into a fury that always ends badly. And he can’t stop talking.
The fates conspire against Dom in hilarious-catastrophic manner, throwing him back into London’s criminal underworld, which has no use for an old, out-of-practice smash-and-grab man. A late reunion with his lost daughter seems to be steering the picture toward a gummy reconciliation fade-out, but Shepard keeps the corn in the can as the deliciously offensive character-based comedy continues to flow.
The movie’s best scenes are the byplay between Law’s temperamental thug and his old accomplice, played with metrosexual suavity by the droll Richard E. Grant. Their ironic repartee is deliciously dizzy, drawing-room comedy for gangsters.
⋆⋆ out of four stars
I was tempted to hibernate during this mundane wildlife doc from Disney’s nature filmmaking division. It’s another year-in-the-life yarn of a mama and her newborns, this time grizzly bears in the Alaskan mountains.
The images are National Geographic quality, but no one expended much creative energy on the script. The cuddlesome story line issues every recurring character a name, a personality and a simple set of survival challenges. The movie reduces magnificent, savage animals to the dimensions of a squabbling but loyal human family. There are a few false scares, but no real threat to the bear clan.
In comparison, Uncle Walt’s “Bambi,” where the mother deer died, seems like a model of tough-minded storytelling. John C. Reilly’s voice-over sounds like a first read-through of the script. He’s a reliably fine actor but as a narrator he’s not qualified to carry Morgan Freeman’s throat spray.
⋆⋆⋆½ out of four stars
Rated: PG for some smoking images.
Globe-spanning nonfiction film meets Imax-worthy visuals in “Watermark,” a stunning documentary about the way H2O shapes the human world and vice versa.
The film, a collaboration between large-format photographer Edward Burtynsky and filmmaker Jennifer Baichwal, is achingly gorgeous. There’s something so hypnotic, so deeply pleasurable about the sight of flowing waves that must be encoded in our cave man DNA. The film is also worrisome. We depend on our water supply, yet mistreat it so casually; it’s a bad codependent relationship on a planetary scale.
Baichwal and Burtynsky racked up the frequent-flier points for spectacular location work in India, China, Germany, China, Greenland, Mexico and more. There are jaw-dropping images of China’s Xiluodu Dam, the equal of a half-dozen Hoovers. Its stark mechanized innards suggest a vast concrete Death Star. The camera savors the pointless beauty of the elaborately choreographed fountains at the Bellagio in Las Vegas.
We see desert delta tributaries dying of thirst, their feeder streams resembling branches of dead trees, and floating coastal cities of boats and nets where Fujian fishing families harvest abalone. Water is poisoned by foul leather tanneries in Dhaka, enjoyed at a California pro surfing competition and cherished at Northern British Columbia’s pristine watershed.
At 92 minutes, the production is stately, unhurried yet crisply focused, never overstaying its welcome.