Movie Review

Directed by Tony Gilroy
Starring: Julia Roberts, Clive Owen
Review by Matthew Toffolo


A pair of corporate spies (Owen and Roberts) who share a steamy past hook up to pull off the ultimate con job on their respective bosses — but can they learn to truly love and trust one another?


If there is any type of film that I am biased about, it's the figuring out who done it/how to pull off a great con in a complex step by step plan film. I love these movies, perhaps because I personally am exactly like these people.

No, I am not a conman, but I do like to make a plan and these plans are usually very complex and hard to pull off. The trick is to bring something to the world without having any trace that you are the one who did it. OR, in the case of these types of film, pulling off a scam without people realizing that you pulled off the scam.

Duplicity has the right title because this is the type of film that is part thriller, part romantic comedy, part crime drama. You don't really know what you're getting into when you sit down to watch it and the film's overall TONE is the exact opposite in the film's trailer and marketing concept to sell the movie to audiences. They are trying to tell us one thing whereas the film itself is another thing entirely. And people might be thrown off because of it.

I do have to admit I was very confused by these selling trailers because Director and Writer Tony Gilroy is not the type to make an all out romantic comedy. He's the man who wrote the screenplay's for all three Bourne movies and then gave us the terrific Michael Clayton in 2007, a film that I consider to be the most underrated film of this decade.

Gilroy's overall writing (and now directing) grammar is about people caught in the complex corporate system of our society. And how these people are all just ponds on the chess board who can easily be killed off without a hitch to serve and benefit their overall game. And his character's journeys are their attempts to beat the system and come out clean. But you can never come out clean as soon as you enter the game.

Duplicity is just like his past films with the only difference being that there is a love story in between the moments of the capitalism game. Clive Owen and Julia Robert's characters have come up with their own scheme to beat the big boys at their game. So for two hours we watch to see if they will win this game and outduel the masters at their own game or not. And there is definitely a surprise ending that will occur, something that I was shocked about.

Interesting thing about screen connections. Clive Owen and Julia Roberts definitely have fantastic chemistry. They are this generations Bogart and Bacall. We love them and want them to be together as soon as we see them. There are 7 scenes in the film of them just standing across from each other talking and nothing else and we are completely into it emotionally. Only two people with on screen connection like this can pull this off. And Gilroy uses it to his advantage.

The key to Duplicity is for us to like and believe that these two characters are in love with each other. They are both the middle-management version of the spy game and know they only have a short time left. And what's next for them? Is there a spy retirement home? These characters want to get away and they have figured out a plan to make some money and scam the people who have been scamming them for years.

All I can say is that you should never underestimate the Chief Operating Officers of gigantic corporations. They are on top for a reason. (but of course as of the writing of this review 21/03/2009, there is a certain rolling of the eyes with a comment like that)

I enjoyed this film and I can't wait to see what Gilroy does next. And Julia Roberts seems to have really leaped as an actress. After Mike Nichols shot her in Closer (2004), Ms. Roberts is letting the cinematographers of her films to shoot her anyway that suits her role and overall theme of the movie she's in. If you look at her past film roles, she is always shot from a Hollywood angle and there is never a hair out of place. The older she's getting, the more free she's becoming. And it usually works the opposite for female stars.

This movie might get lost in the shuffle in 2009, but it’s an entertaining movie that should be seen.



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 valerian.jpgA dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe.

Director: Luc Besson
Writers: Pierre Christin (comic book), Jean-Claude Mézières (comic book)
Stars: Dane DeHaan, Cara Delevingne, Clive Owen

Review by Gilbert Seah

VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS is the new widely anticipated French science fiction action film written and directed by Luc Besson best known for THE FIFTH ELEMENT and LUCY. The film, based on the French science fiction comics series Valérian and Laureline, written by Pierre Christin and illustrated by Jean-Claude Mézières is to date the most expensive French film ever made at a price rage of $197 million euros. To break-even it has to make $350 million worldwide. It is a big a risk as James Cameron’s AVATAR but the film is stunning in its visuals and imagination and comes highly recommended for Besson’s vision and delivery of this space opus to the big screen. It be best seen in 3D and on the biggest screen possible.

The film opens with an alien species on a distant planet. They speak a different language and lead a different lifestyle, in tune with nature giving their planet back what they receive from it. This is reminiscent of the blue AVATAR creatures in the James Cameron’s film. An apocalypse happens and their planet is destroyed. On the other side of the Universe, a dark force threatens Alpha, a vast metropolis and home to species from a thousand planets. Special operatives Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. Nothing makes much sense in the film’s first half, but writer/director Besson keeps the audience’s curiosity strong. It is during the second half that the story comes together, becoming more of a conventional film with the fight between good and evil, with Valerian and Laureline being the space fighters and peace keepers working for ‘the government’.

But it is not the story that will astonish the audiences. The visionary action sequences consisting of computer generated landscapes and creatures of all shapes and sizes will mesmerize. The best of these are three information selling beaked liked creatures who speak both simultaneously but separately forming sentences that are hilarious and brilliant. The capture of the jellyfish on the mammoth sea creature providing some genuine action and thrills and the butterfly bait fishing are inspirational set pieces. Another memorable scene has Laureine wearing a huge hat with the top of her head exposed only to find her brains about to be eaten by an Alien Emperor, the way Chinese used eat monkey brains as a delicacy before the practice was banned.

Much negative reviews have been posted of the lead actor’s Dane DeHaan’s performance as Major Valerian. DeHaan is a young 31-year old American actor with some Dutch background, hence his Dutch surname, who has proven himself able to carry a lead role in the recent but badly received A CURE FOR WELLNESS. In that film DeHaan demonstrated a different kind of hero, a vulnerable one, as in this one, full of character flaws like impulsive decision making, unlike other space action heroes like hans Solo or Luke Skywalker. His partner, co-fighter for good against evil and love interest, Lareline is played by Cara Delevingne who emits sexiness and charisma. They do exhibit good chemistry on screen, and her speech on love at the film’s end though cliched, works. Supporting performances by Clive Owen as the villain and Ethan Hawke are also impressive.
Rihanna plays an alien dancer who performs a Sally Bowles in CABARET type dance forms one of the film’s best musical dance numbers – amazing and unforgettable combined with special computer effects. Music is by Alexandre Desplat.

For all its flaws, Besson’s brilliantly conceived film still scores top marks as a futuristic space action adventure. Much better than THE FIFTH ELEMENT and the new STAR WARS film series.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XawbuBCj-Fo

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Happy Birthday: Clive Owen

cliveowen.jpgClive Owen

Born: October 3, 1964 in Keresley, Coventry, Warwickshire, England, UK

Married to:
Sarah-Jane Fenton (6 March 1995 – present) (2 children)

[Talking about Daniel Craig]: “I think when Craig first took the (James Bond) part he got a pretty rough ride, which to a certain extent is inevitable because there are so many different people who have so many different ideas about something like that. You are never going to please everybody. The thing that is really exciting is that he is a proper actor. He is not shallow or posing, they have cast a really serious actor and I think that when the film comes out everyone will see what a great choice he was”.

Gosford Park
dir. Robert Altman
Helen Mirren
Kristen Scott Thomas
dir. Gary McKendry
Jason Statham
Clive Owen
dir. Doug Liman
Matt Damon
Franka Potente
ConstantineSin City
dir. Rodriguez
Frank Miller
Mickey Rourke
Bruce Willis
Inside Man
dir. Spike Lee
Denzel Washington
Jodie Foster
dir. Frank Miller
Robert Rodriguez
Clive Owen
dir. Tom Tykwer
Naomi Watts
dir. Tony Gilroy
Julia Roberts


CHILDREN OF MENChildren of Men
dir. Alfonso Cuarón
Clive Owen
Julianne Moore
SydneyWhiteElizabeth: The Golden Age
Directed by Shekhar Kapur
Cate Blanchett
Geoffrey Rush



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