The Human Stain – A Movie Review

I picked up The Human Stain only because Sir Anthony Hopkins stars in it and I’m a fan of his work.  However, also starring in this movie are Nicole Kidman, Ed Harris, and Gary Sinise, and they all give terrific performances.

The basic premise is that a college professor says something in class that is mistaken for a racial slur.  He ultimately quits his job out of protest, and the shocking news utterly changes his relationship with his wife forever.  He eventually finds himself in a relationship with a woman who seems to be further down the socio-economic structure (Kidman), and they must deal with her estranged and demented husband (Harris).  I really can’t tell you much more about this film without spoiling some major plot devices, but let me just say that there are some fascinating insights into Hopkins’ character through flashbacks to his youth.  I will also say that in the beginning of the movie everything seems rather random and pointless, but by the end of the film, it has all served a purpose, revealing a story that will truly provoke your deepest thoughts.

Again, Hopkins, as usual, was magnificent.  Kidman was barely recognizable due to her drastically different body language and huffy, American accent.  Ed Harris plays a man significantly disturbed and Harris pulls it off with such subtlety that I honestly saw insanity when I looked into his eyes.  Sinise was the only character that troubled me just a bit.  He seemed only to be on the fringe of the story, and while I thought Sinise did an impressive job, I never really truly understood the point of his character.

I genuinely recommend this movie.  I don’t remember hearing much about it when it was in the theatres, and that’s probably because it has a rather controversial and daring premise.  There are some brief scenes of nudity as well as harsh language, so take that into account.

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The World’s Fastest Indian

I believe that some movies are bound to be good based upon the actors involved alone.  Now, this is not a perfect formula, but it works for me more often than not. 

That being said, when I saw that Anthony Hopkins starred in The World’s Fastest Indian, and after I learned the movie was a true story about an old man from New Zealand who had customized a 1921 Indian motorcycle in order to break a land speed record in 1967, well, I was sold.

Though there were not nearly enough scenes with the actual racing of the Indian, I couldn’t help but fall in love with Hopkins’ character.  The story mostly deals with his charm and eccentricities, of which there are many, and his difficult plight in getting from New Zealand to Utah, where the land speed races were held.  Just like most old men, no offense to the old men out there, Hopkins demanded everyone repeat everything they said to him as he turned a good ear to them, he mumbled, he crept along, and he seemed to have that general body language that only an old man can have. 

Though it’s a true story and you can easily look up Hopkins’ character’s name, Burt Munro, on answers.com, I won’t ruin the ending for you.  I will say, however, that it is truly an inspirational film that had my wife weeping at its end, and, don’t tell anyone, brought a little tiny bit of moisture to my eyes as well.

Proof – A Movie Review

This particular movie sent me through myriad emotions.  For instance, I love Anthony Hopkins and have been a Jake Gyllenhaal fan since Donnie Darko, so their specific performances I very much enjoyed.

Gwyneth Paltrow has always been kind of hit and miss for me, and, as par for the course, she was hit and miss for me in this film as well. 

Let me give you a quick summary of the film without spoiling anything.  Hopkins plays a man who was at one time a preeminent mathematician.  He completed his greatest work all before the age of 26 and since then has slowly been suffering from mental problems.  As an old man, his daughter, played by Paltrow, is forced to care for him, dropping out of college in order to do so.

Hopkins dies before the film even starts but we’re treated to him through many difference scenarios in which I will not go into.  However, one of his students played by Gyllenhaal takes it upon himself to search through Hopkins’ old notes for any slivers of lucidity.  He does indeed find a notebook filled with the work of a certifiable genius, but when Paltrow claims the work is hers, things get very interesting.

Hope Davis plays Paltrow’s sister and believes Paltrow is suffering from the same dementia that plagued her father.  Paltrow doesn’t know what to believe, nor does Gyllenhaal. 

This story is wrought with emotional edginess.  In fact, at times it became very uncomfortable as Paltrow and Davis’ characters yelled and screamed at each other as completely opposite siblings.  Moreover, Paltrow spent a great part of the movie being quite unlikable.  While I appreciate her effort at playing against type, it still didn’t totally work for me.

However, that being said, I did have a nice time watching the movie, especially because, as with A Beautiful Mind and Good Will Hunting, I never thought a film utilizing mathematics as a plot device would pique my interest.  I recommend giving this film a try.

Fracture – A Movie Review

There’s so much I want to say about this film that I simply can’t for fear of spoiling some pretty captivating moments and revelations.I will say this: Watching Anthony Hopkins as the manipulative, arrogant, charming aeronautical engineer and Ryan Gosling as the manipulative, arrogant, charming lawyer was riveting.  Both men ooze charisma in this film, and the scenes in which they interact are magnetic.

I don’t remember hearing much about this movie when it was out in the theaters, and that’s a real shame.  Even I must admit I’m normally not one for “court room” flicks, but I finally got around to it anyway because I’m an Anthony Hopkins fan.  And by the way, Gosling, who more than holds his own with the veteran, impresses me more and more with each role I see him play. 

Let me assure you, this thriller was a winner all because of the superb acting.  I really recommend you give it a view and see two of Hollywood’s best at work.