Monthly Archives: November 2012

A Beautiful Mind (2002)

Directed by: Ron Howard 

Written by: Akiva Goldsman

Starring: Russel Crowe

A Beautiful Mind tells the  story of the schizophrenic Professor John Nash, mathematical genius and Economics Nobel laureate. The film is a prime example of the problem with the biopic genre; they fail to break free from a very “and then, and then” structure. The problem with the film is not in the performances or nature of the story but in its actual writing.

A Beautiful Mind is a good film, but it’s one of those film which deserves to be so much better than it actually is. Except for a stellar performance by Crowe, everything else in the film seemed to fall short of the potential that the story was calling for. A Beautiful Mind is one of those films which benefits from the viewer knowing what they are watching before hand. As a first time viewer I knew nothing about the plot, film or story of John Nash. This made the slight twist (it’s more of a reveal if you know Nash is schizophrenic) quite surprising and thus enjoyable. But once this turn was made in the plot, there was very little excitement or intrigue. The plot bumbles along until the final resolution, which is admittedly heart warming and satisfying.

Russel Crowe plays the role of the socially awkward and mathematically obsessed  Princeton scholar. His performance is a brilliant display of sincerity and believability. Crowe’s performance captured my attention and drew me in to the character. I quickly became intrigued by the awkward young Nash. However as the film progressed I moved from feeling curious to feeling genuinely sympathetic and concerned for him. Such a performances was necessary if there was to be any degree of success to the film. The viewer is plunged into a pit of frustration and disappointment each time Nash begins to lapse into his schizophrenic moments. This ability to control an audience and take them on an emotional journey is testament to the skill of the actor.

A Beautiful Mind does a great job of putting the viewer in the perspective of someone suffering with schizophrenia, but fails to hold ones attention to the end. The first half of the film is filled with promise. Once the revelation of Nash’s schizophrenia is made, there is little reason not to fast forward to end and watch the ‘happy ending’ that unfolds.

Plot/Development = 6/10

Performances/Characters = 8.5/1

Screenplay 6/10

Quality Rating = 68%

Entertainment Rating = 70%





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Directed by: Michael Mann

Starring: Tom Cruise and Jamie Foxx

Cinematography by: Dion Beebe and Paul Cameron


Collateral is a grungy thriller, which centers around the collision of two characters, Vincent (Tom Cruise) a hired killer for the mob and Max (Jammie Foxx) , a dedicated and diligent taxi driver. Upon hailing Max’s cab one night in LA, Vincent commences a 5 stop tour of city, heartlessly executing his targets that are due to testify against his employers. Max is caught up in the nightmare as the unwilling getaway driver for Vincent’s duties. Max gets personally involved when he learns that Vincent’s final target for the night is Max’s client directly before Vincent, the prosecutor of the case who exchanged business cards with Max with the hope of a future encounter.

The story of Collateral is fairly straightforward. There’s not really any backstory to the characters as most of the drama takes place within the taxi itself as Max drives Vincent around the streets LA – trying to understand who he is and why he does what he does. However despite the simplicity and somewhat ‘2D’ approach to the plot and characters, the script and direction by Michael Mann carry the film and keep the viewer intrigued throughout. The film captures the nightmarish reality of the saga for Max. He’s a cab driver who wants to get home at the end of his long nightshift and finds himself aiding and abetting a violent and dangerous criminal – under duress.

The performances and characters in Collateral are the real highlights. Personally I don’t enjoy Tom Cruise. I find him to be a product of the Hollywood movie star factory that has created a star with very little depth. However, in Collateral he does play the role of a heartless, cold and detached hit man that markets his abilities to the highest bidder. Cruise’s character is a bit of an anomaly which adds interest to the interaction between Vincent and Max. Although he’s detached and brutal in his violence, he’s interested and intrigued with Max. Their conversations revolve around how long Max has been driving, what his dreams are and whether he’ll call the lady who left her business card (the prosecutor). However, Cruise does seem to click into cheesy action star during the chase scenes towards the end. In these moments it became quite apparent that we are watching the ‘great Tom Cruise’ chase a man through the streets. Personally I feel that he loses his believability in these moments.

Whilst Tom Cruise may be the headlining star in the film, the headliner performance comes from Jamie Foxx. Max is a tired taxi driver, hoping to one day fulfill his dreams of owning his own luxury limo service. On this particular night he just happens to be the wrong guy in the wrong place at the wrong time. Foxx’s performance draws the audience in and creates a feeling of empathy and frustration on his behalf. The uncertainty and unpredictability with which Vincent acts leaves one feeling nervous for Max’s safety. Foxx performs the role with such ease and sincerity whilst creating a character that is likable for the audience.

An interesting fact about the film is that it was one of the first Hollywood blockbusters to be filmed in digital format as opposed to film. This has a distinct effect on the film, coupled with the style and cinematography that Michael Mann as director has chosen to adopt. The film feels very ‘handheld’ and voyeuristic. You feel as though you are in the cab with the two men, witnessing first hand what’s unfolding. There’s a gritty, grungy characteristic to the film which isn’t seen on other Hollywood blockbusters. Whilst I didn’t enjoy it, I do appreciate it. I like it when a director utilizes the tools of filmmaking to help tell the story. Though not my preferred style, Collateral does have a distinct look and feel which carries the story and emotion of the film nicely. Collateral is a film worth watching – not because it’s brilliant – it’s far from that, but because it is somewhat fresh and interesting. Would I watch it again? Perhaps, but not very quickly. Despite the somewhat lackluster plot line and at times dubious performance by Cruise, Collateral does have something to offer in the tension and interpersonal conflict between two great characters.

Plot/Development 6/10

Characters/Performances 7.5/10

Cinematography 7/10

Quality Rating 68%

Entertainment 6.5/10

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