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.

Iron Man – A Movie Review

You don’t need me to tell you this movie has been warmly received by the masses, and for good reason.

When I first saw the trailer many months ago, I knew this movie would be the Iron Man I wanted.  I wasn’t sure it’d be a hit with the general public, but I was fairly certain the comic book fans would leave the theatre drooling.  Happily for me, everyone seems more than satisfied.

Let me first say that the actors and their acting are first-rate.  Robert Downey, Jr. is, without a doubt, Tony Stark.  He inherently captures both the nobility and arrogance of Iron Man’s true identity.  With his charismatic delivery and snide jokes, Downey, Jr. was perfect casting.  Terrence Howard plays Stark’s best friend and was also very good, though he didn’t get to stretch his acting chops much.  Not to worry, if you know the Iron Man mythos at all, you know Jim Rhodes will have his chance to shine (no pun intended).  Gwyneth Paltrow was surprisingly likeable and appeared to have real chemistry with Downey, Jr.  And finally, thank God Jeff Bridges is on the silver screen again.  I love Bridges.  His role wasn’t quite as meaty as I would like, and he fell victim to the superhero formula, but it was fun to see that bald head and huge beard.

The special effects were phenomenal.  Iron Man is a movie that, even five years ago, never would have worked.  Trust me.  It works.  Big time.

The origin of Iron Man is one that works surprisingly well as time goes on.  War is a pretty constant in our society, and so with a few tweaks and twitters, Tony Stark can get his start wherever the war zones are.  Downey, Jr. captured the complexity of a man wanting to do the right thing after a lifetime of living selfishly, and while he delivers true emotion, the story never became heavy-handed.  The first three-fourths of the movie really is quite dramatic and timely, but then falls victim to superhero cliché during its climax.  By no means does it ruin the film or even weaken it, but they don’t really give us anything new in the grand finale, the “big fight.”

Also, I was disappointed by the fact that I’d seen every cool shot of Iron Man in the trailers and commercials.  Luckily, the acting and story were so strong that Iron Man could have been totally absent, but really, I wish they’d saved a few snippets of the suit to surprise us.

The director, Jon Favreau, obviously understands both Iron Man and Tony Stark, as well as everything that makes both of them captivating.  Iron Man is a wonderfully entertaining movie with true drama, tension, comedy, and charm. 

By the way, I absolutely loved the end of the movie, right before the credits.  So Tony Stark.

Oh, speaking of which-for all the comic book peeps, make sure you sit through the credits.  Seriously.  You’ll be furious with yourself if you don’t.