Thursday, April 19, 2007

Episode 29

Thank You For Smoking - Aaron Eckhart plays Nick Naylor, a lobbyist and the primary spokesperson for Big Tobacco. His job is to argue. As he so eloquently puts it in the film, "if you argue correctly, you're never wrong". Nick makes public appearances on talk shows and other such venues where he argues that smoking isn't really as bad as people say. This makes him one of the most hated men on the planet, but he's incredibly good at his job. His son Joey (Cameron Bright) idolizes his father, and is becoming quite the fast talker himself, much to his mother (Kim Dickens) and her new boyfriend's (Daniel Travis) dismay. His closest friends are his professional equals for the alcohol (Maria Bello) and firearms (David Koechner) industries. His enemies are those who would tell the world that smoking kills, such as Vermont senator Ortolan Finistirre (William H. Macy). His job pays the bills, and his life is going well until a beautiful and devious reporter by the name Heather Holloway (Katie Holmes) betrays Nick's trust and prints an article revealing all of his dirty little secrets. On top of this tragedy Nick has been abducted, and almost killed by, a group who opposes his views on the subject of smoking. At an all-time low, can Nick Naylor use his god-given gift of speech to redeem himself in not only his professional, but his personal life? I did my best just now to give you, the reader, a reliable description of Thank You For Smoking. In this task, I'm not positive that I succeeded. You see, I've laid out the plot of the film for you, but there's no way I can honestly represent this film in a short review. Thank You For Smoking was a wonderful and refreshing film. It tackles some of the most morbid of subjects with frighteningly light-hearted humor and never once apologizes for itself. If it weren't for the touchy subjects tackled within, I would almost say that Thank You For Smoking was the feel good movie of 2006. The fresh, quirky direction by Jason Reitman combined with the masterful words of Christopher Buckley and the superb acting by every single person in the film combines to create an incredible and original viewing experience. Speaking of the acting, as I said, each and every personality in the movie is spot on. In addition to the names listed above, Rob Lowe puts in a marvelous performance as the head of a talent agency in LA, J.K. Simmons knocks it out of the park as the head of a greedy tobacco company, and Sam Elliot delivers a great portrayal of the original Marlboro Man. I mean it when I say that every actor/actress in this film is put to perfect use. Because of the serious nature of the topics covered in Thank You For Smoking, it is almost unimaginable that one could smile so often as you're sure to while watching this movie. Go out, rent Thank You For Smoking, and marvel at it's greatness.

Zodiac - Zodiac is based on the true story of the Zodiac Killer, who killed several people in San Francisco throughout the 60's and 70's. Jake Gyllenhal plays Robert Graysmith, an artist for a San Francisco newspaper who becomes obsessed with the case when the killer begins to send complicated cyphers with messages hidden within them to the paper at which he works. A reporter working at the same newspaper by the name of Paul Avery (Robert Downey Jr.) also takes a particular interest in the case. Meanwhile out on the streets, inspectors David Toschi (Mark Ruffalo) and William Armstrong (Anthony Edwards) investigate the murders firsthand. The film covers all of the events of the actual investigation over the entire duration of the threat. Not much of a plot description, I know, but it's tough to tie this film up into a neat little synopsis. Zodiac focuses just as much, if not more, on the hurdles and techniques involved in the police case surrounding the Zodiac Killer as it does on the characters in the film. A lot of people have complained that in this regard the film is boring because the story is so tightly woven around protocol and detective work. You should certainly be aware that this film is not like any other by director David Fincher. Do not expect to see another Fight Club or Se7en in Zodiac. Something that I believe this movie does incredbly well is to make the audience feel like they are living in the time period during which the story takes place. It is a very dark film about a very dark subject, and from what I can tell, sticks to the facts. I enjoyed the way that the story was told, more based on what really happened than telling a standard Hollywood murder mystery. It was interesting because not many films try to do what Zodiac did, much less pull it off. In the end it certainly wasn't what I was expecting, but I came away from the theater pleased. If nothing else, you can marvel at the amount of guest stars that pop up who you're bound to recognize from other films and television. There are so many that I refuse to begin to list them all. Give Zodiac a try and prove that movies don't all have to be alike to satisfy their audience.

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