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.


TIFF 2017 Movie Review: LES GARDIENNES (THE GUARDIANS) (France/Switzerland 2017) ****

Movie Reviews of films that will be playing at TIFF (Toronto International Film Festival) in 2017. Go to TIFF 2017 Movie Reviews and read reviews of films showing at the festival.

The Guardians Poster
Women are left behind to work a family farm during the Great War.


Xavier Beauvois


Nathalie BayeIris BryLaura Smet
LES GUARDIENNES (THE GUARDIANS) is director Xavier Beauvois’ (LE PETIT LIEUTENANT) handsomely mounted period piece of World War II told during the period of 4 years from 1916, the start to end.

It is a story that needs to be told – of what effects the war as well as modernization had on a typical farm family in France.

The women of the Pardier farm, under the deft hand of the family’s matriarch (Nathalie Baye in arguably her best role), must grapple with the workload while the men, including two sons, are off at the front. Her husband, daughter and , grand-daughter remain with her. She seeks the aid of an outsider, a strong 25-year old orphan, Francine (Laura Smet) who turns out to be an excellent worker.

When Francine and on of the sons fall in love, the trouble starts. Beauvois’ film is almost perfect in he creation of the war atmosphere and of rural France. The harvesting and planting seasons are beautifully captured on film.

The film also does not gear towards the typical Hollywood ending but a realistic credible one instead.

Trailer: (unavailable)

the guardians

Movie Review: ROGUE ONE: A STAR WARS STORY (UA 2016) ***1/2

rogue_one_movie_poster.jpgDirector: Gareth Edwards
Writers: Chris Weitz (screenplay), Tony Gilroy (screenplay)
Stars: Felicity Jones, Diego Luna, Alan Tudyk, Forest Whitaker, Mads Mikkelsen, Jimmy Smits

Review by Gilbert Seah

It is finally here and the world is waiting to hear how good (or bad) the $200 million production of the new Star Wars film is. For one, the filmmakers are clear to emphasize that this is a standalone story. By this, they mean that the story, set shortly before the events of the original Star Wars, is not part of the other STAR WARS films, though there are already two more films after ROGUE ONE in the making as ROGUE ONE is the first of three anthology films.

There is not much original in the story of ROGUE ONE. But there is little to disappoint. Again, the film begins with the title, “Long time ago in a galaxy far away..”, though the words are differently laid out. The scriptwriters Chris Weitz and Tony Gilroy, from a story by John Knoll and Gary Whitta ensure the successful formula is untampered with. And there are lots of spectacle, new characters, explosions, exotic futuristic sets combined with exotic setting – space towers emerging from a tropical paradise. At times, the film feels like a James Bond film, where the hero and troops storm the villain’s lair, take him out while blowing everything up.

It all starts with the escape of young Jyn Erso as a child as she witnesses her mother shot dead and her inventor father (Mads Mikkelsen) taken away to create a planet destroyer for the Empire. With this weapon, the rebels would stand no chance of winning the battle for the galaxy.

So, the Rebel Alliance recruits the grown up Jyn Erso (Felicity Jones) after freeing her from prison, to work with a team including Cassian Andor (Diego Luna from Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN) to steal the design schematics of the Empire’s new superweapon, the Death Star. That is about it for the story, leaving the film plenty of time for action, spectacle and more action and more spectacle. Music is by Michael Giacchino with pieces taken from the original score by John Williams.

The enmity between Cassia and Jyn inevitably turns into romance. But the romance is executed in good taste without distraction from the action at hand. The two are just shown holding hands in the key scene.

The choice of a female protagonist heroine as in the last STAR WARS film last year is a good one, given these politically correct times. After all, Princess Lea, a key Star Wars character is female and key to the whole saga.

The main villain of the piece is played with sufficient relish by Ben Mendelsohn next to the odd appearances of Darth Vader. But the new characters that steal the show are played by Donnie Yen and Jiang Wen. Have the Chinese taken over? The new droid K-2SO,(Alan Tudyk) a Rebel-owned Imperial enforcer also makes a new welcome non-human hero.

As in last year’s THE FORCE AWAKENS, reviewers were asked not to reveal plot points or twists. In THE FORCE AWAKENS, these included the death of Hans Solo and the end appearance of Luke Skywalker. In ROGUE ONE, there ares equal surprises to please the fans.

Trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch? v=frdj1zb9sMY 


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Happy Birthday: Tony Gilroy

tonygilroyTony Gilroy

Born: September 11, 1956 in Manhattan, New York City, New York, USA

If you want to stay in cinema, you either have to go very very big or very very small or if you want to go into the movie business that I thought I was leading myself towards, you have to go into television in America now, which is probably the best stories and the best acting and the most interesting material — a lot of it’s on television.

Michael Clayton
dir. Gilroy
Tilda Swinton
dir. Gilroy
Clive Owen


dir. Michael Apted
Hugh Grant
Gene Hackman
dir Michael Bay
Bruce Willis
Liv Tyler
Ben Affleck
dir. Tony Gilroy
Jeremy Renner
Rachel Weisz
dir. Paul Greengrass
Julia Stiles
STATE OF PLAY Movie PosterState of Play
dir. Kevin Macdonald
Ben Affleck