Disgraced Attorney Seeks Redemption In Riveting Crime Thriller
If you enjoy trying to solve a cerebral, multi-layered mystery, then get yourself to a theater to see this cleverly concealed whodunit before anybody has a chance to spoil it for you. Based on Michael Connelly’s bestseller of the same name, this intricate thriller was directed by Brad Furman (The Take) and stars Matthew McConaughey in the title role. He plays the sort of down on his luck attorney audiences just love to root for; an empathetic underdog in need of redemption, reminiscent of the recovering alcoholic Paul Newman portrayed in The Verdict, in an Oscar-winning performance.
McConaughey’s character, Mick Haller, is a likable lush whose driver’s license was suspended after a DUI incident. But because his Ford Lincoln functions both as a means of transportation and as an office, he now has a delinquent client (Laurence Mason) chauffeuring him around L.A. as a way of paying off the debt. Besides booze, he’s battling his ex-wife, Margaret (Marisa Tomei), not only because they have a child (Mackenzie Aladjem) together, but because, as a criminal prosecutor, she works on the opposite side of the aisle.
As a defense attorney who makes “house calls” right on the street with the miscreants he’s stuck with representing, mobility is critical to Mick. Given that low grade of clientele, he thanks his lucky stars the day he’s told by a bail bondsman (John Leguizamo) that Louis Roulet (Ryan Philippe), the son of a Beverly Hills real estate tycoon (Frances Fisher), wants to hire him.
Mick learns that the 32-year-old heir has just been arrested for the attempted murder of a badly bruised woman (Margarita Levieva) he picked up at a nightclub. In a meeting behind bars, Louis claims that he’s being framed by a money hungry liar, who staged the attack with a couple of accomplices. According to his version of what transpired, someone standing behind the alleged victim’s apartment door knocked him unconscious as soon as he entered, and then planted a knife and her blood on him.
Seeing Louis’ as his ticket to a higher tax bracket, Mick arranges for his release on a million-dollar bond, insisting on a six-figure retainer for what he reasonably expects to be an open and shut case. His clean-cut client’s alibi is subsequently corroborated by a key piece of evidence, the bar’s surveillance videotape showing the accuser slipping Louis her phone number on a napkin on the night in question.
But when the assistant D.A. (Josh Lucas) sticks with his plans to put the defendant on trial, Mick asks his trusty private investigator, Frank (William H. Macy), to dig a little deeper. Soon, the plot thickens deliciously in myriad ways, which it would be unfair to divulge. Suffice to say that what ensues is a deceptively complex game of cat and mouse that’s a pure delight to observe as it unravels.
Easily, the best blockbuster of the year thus far!
Excellent (4 stars).
Running time: 119 Minutes.
The People I’ve Slept With
Sitcom Features Sexaholic’s Frantic Search for Baby-Daddy
Angela Yang (Karin Anna Cheung) is so promiscuous that the only way she can remember her lovers is by taking photos of them with her cell phone after making love. And the happily-in-heat hedonist has accumulated quite an impressive collection lately, scribbling a nickname on the picture of each of her conquests.
Unlike her very conventional sister (Lynn Chen) who has already settled down and started a family, Angela has no plans to marry anytime soon. After all, she doesn’t see herself as a slut, but merely as a female version of a testosterone-driven male with an insatiable sexual appetite.
However, Angela’s free love philosophy comes apart at the seams when a visit to the obstetrician (Sherry Weston) confirms her suspicion that she’s pregnant. With no idea who the father is, she consults those headshots from her one-night stands to narrow down the list of potential fathers.
She soon settles on four viable candidates: “Five-Second Guy” (Danny Vasquez), a smooth-talking Latino who turned out to be a disappointing premature ejaculator; “Mystery Man” (Archie Kao), an image-conscious, Chinese-American politician running for city council; “Mr. Hottie” (Chris Zylka), a barely-legal, Caucasian college kid whose bones she’d jumped in a dormitory; and “Nice but Boring Guy” (Randall Park), an awkward nerd of Korean extraction she’d slept with more out of sympathy than lust.
So, with the help of her best friend, Gabriel (Wilson Cruz), Angela dreams up a variety of creative ways to obtain DNA samples without triggering any baby-daddy drama. The tension builds along with her swelling belly as the once-wanton sexaholic suddenly finds herself feeling marriage-minded.
But not only does she need to find her fetus’ genetic match first, she’s hoping for a whirlwind romance and a wedding, too, all before the arrival of their little bundle of joy. That’s an awful lot of dominoes that need to topple before that storybook ending.
Directed by Quentin Lee, The People I’ve Slept With takes an alternately jaw-dropping and lighthearted look at 21st Century mating habits. Accolades are in order for the attractive and talented Karin Anna Cheung for rising to the challenge of the demanding role of Angela with an admirable gusto, whether she’s shedding her clothing to assume a compromising position or convincingly conveying the emotional arc of her rapidly-maturing character.
A two-fisted female who takes responsibility for her own orgasm (ala Teri Garr in Tootsie), as well as for its sobering consequences (ala Ellen Page in Juno).
Excellent (4 stars).
Running time: 89 Minutes.
DVD Extras: Alternate openings, an alternate ending, and “The Making of” documentary.
OPENING THIS WEEK
Weekly Previews That Make Choosing Film Fun
For movies opening March 25, 2011 Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Rodrick Rules (PG for mischief and rude humor). Sibling-oriented sequel finds the former nerd (Zachary Gordon) resisting pressure from his well-meaning parents (Rachael Harris and Steve Zahn) to bond with his big brother/chief tormenter (Devon Bostick). With Robert Capron, Peyton List and Grayson Russell. Sucker Punch (PG-13 for mature themes, sexuality, profanity and violence). Fantasy thriller starring Emily Browning as a teenager institutionalized by her evil stepfather (Gerald Plunkett), who has five days to escape from an insane asylum with the help of four other female inmates (Vanessa Hudgens, Abbie Cornish, Jena Malone and Jamie Chung) before having to undergo a lobotomy. With Carla Gugino, Jon Hamm and Scott Glenn.
The 5th Quarter (PG-13 for mature themes). Bittersweet biopic recounting the gridiron exploits of a grieving college football star (Ryan Merriman) that led the Wake Forest Demon Deacons to their best record ever after dedicating the 2006 season to the memory of his younger brother (Stefan Guy), who perished in a tragic car accident. With Aidan Quinn, Andie MacDowell and Andrea Powell. Drawing With Chalk (Unrated). Diminished dreams drama about a couple of middle-aged, wannabe rock stars’ (Todd Giglio and Christopher Springer) readjustment to life in their working-class hometown after 15 years of trying to land a record deal in New York City. Cast includes Michael Gentile, Kapil Bawa and Pooja Kumar. I Travel Because I Have to, I Come Back Because I Love You (Unrated). Melancholy character study revolving around a government geologist (Irandhir Santos) who becomes consumed by loneliness while away from his girlfriend on assignment in a remote region of Northeastern Brazil. (In Portuguese with subtitles.)
Korkoro (Unrated). World War II drama about a band of gypsies being followed as they roam around France by a young orphan (Mathias Laliberte) in need of a new family after the disappearance of his parents. With Marc Lavoine, James Thierree and Carlo Brandt. (In French and German with subtitles.) Miral (PG-13 for violence, rape and mature themes). Middle East drama, set in 1948, recounting the real-life effort of a young Arab woman (Freida Pinto) to open an orphanage in Jerusalem following the partitioning of Palestine, which created the State of Israel. Cast includes Willem Dafoe, Vanessa Redgrave and Hiam Abbass. My Perestroika (Unrated). Post-Cold War documentary examining the fortunes of the final generation raised behind the Iron Curtain as seen through the eyes of five Muscovites who were schoolmates at the time of the collapse of the Soviet Union. (In Russian with subtitles.)
Peep World (Unrated). Dysfunctional family comedy, set during a patriarch’s (Ron Rifkin) 70th birthday party where his offspring struggle to come to terms with the skeletons divulged by their youngest sibling’s (Ben Schwartz) recently-published novel. Narrated by Lewis Black, and co-starring Michael C. Hall, Sarah Silverman, Rainn Wilson, Late Mara, Leslie Ann Warren. Potiche (Unrated). French farce, set in 1977, about a trophy wife (Catherine Deneuve) who steps in to run her husband’s (Fabrice Luchini) umbrella factory after he’s been taken hostage by striking employees led by her ex-lover (Gerard Depardieu). With Sergi Lopez, Karin Viard and Judith Godreche. (In French with subtitles.)
Thunder Soul (PG for smoking and mild epithets). Musical documentary chronicling the 35th reunion of members of Houston’s history-making Kashmere High School Band with 92-year-old Conrad “Prof” Johnson, the legendary coach who led the ensemble of African-American, inner-city kids to a number of championship titles in nationwide competitions during the ‘70s. White Irish Drinkers (R for sexuality, violence and pervasive profanity). Crime caper, set in Brooklyn in the fall of ’75, about a couple of struggling siblings (Nick Thurston and Geoff Wigdor) who hatch a plan to rob a theater on the night of a Rolling Stones concert. With Karen Allen, Jimmy Palumbo and Lizzy Grant.