Duplicity reviews

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Postby Zahveed » Sun Mar 22, 2009 9:54 am

--Sabin wrote:more remembered fondly for nostalgic purposes.

This is probably my problem.

Oh well. I still like the movie if only for Williams, Hoffman, and Hoskins. Rufio pisses me off. Anyways, back to Julia Roberts.




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Postby Sabin » Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:20 am

It really is a crap film. Just an ugly-looking movie, way too long, and more remembered fondly for nostalgic purposes. The early scenes with Robin Williams and Maggie Smith's Granny Wendy are lovely and Dustin Hoffman is a lot of fun, but Neverland is incredibly boring. You'd never imagine it was a Spielberg film. It's just a mess.

Julia Roberts is especially bad in it. I'm actually rather astonished she maintained her post-Pretty Woman power until My Best Friend's Wedding.




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Postby Bog » Sun Mar 22, 2009 1:13 am

Well, since you brought up films and not performances...I will definitely tend to agree with FilmFan that Hook is borderline awful. It's crap like this that make me agree that not even Spielberg belongs on that 25 greatest directors list.

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Postby Zahveed » Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:25 pm

--FilmFan720 wrote:
--Zahveed wrote:I've never enjoyed any Julia Roberts movie.

Except Hook... I liked Hook.

Oddly enough, I think that is probably the worst film she has ever been in.

Since I don't care for her I don't know if that says a lot, or not saying much at all.




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Postby FilmFan720 » Sat Mar 21, 2009 10:07 pm

--Zahveed wrote:I've never enjoyed any Julia Roberts movie.

Except Hook... I liked Hook.

Oddly enough, I think that is probably the worst film she has ever been in.




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Postby Zahveed » Sat Mar 21, 2009 8:30 pm

I've never enjoyed any Julia Roberts movie.

Except Hook... I liked Hook.
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Postby flipp525 » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:43 pm

--Penelope wrote:And Julia is seriously miscast.

Hasn't she been miscast in her last five or six roles? She thinks she can play any character and, sorry, she just can't.




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Postby Penelope » Sat Mar 21, 2009 7:28 pm

I was underwhelmed. For a movie being pushed as a "comic romantic thriller," there's little comedy, the romance is forced and unbelievable and the thrills are only in a brief sequence near the end. The movie thinks it's being all clever and fun when it's actually rather dull. And Julia is seriously miscast.
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Postby Sabin » Fri Mar 20, 2009 12:05 am

Armond White talks around movies.
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Postby Sonic Youth » Thu Mar 19, 2009 10:28 pm

What is the point of posting non-value-add Armond White reviews anymore?



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Postby dws1982 » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:40 pm

Slant Magazine and Armond White throw some cold water on this one:

SLANT-
The creeping ability of big corporations to maintain their own intelligence networks, a subject explored with finesse and a measure of seriousness in Tony Gilroy's previous film, Michael Clayton, is mined for goofier use in Duplicity, a romance aiming at a tone of jazz-riff larkishness but somewhat undermined in that pursuit by the washboard-stiffness of its main characters, two private-sector spies tasked with coaxing a miracle cream out of one Big Pharma giant's clutches and delivering it into another's. Having perhaps absorbed some bad lessons from his Clayton producer Steven Soderbergh's Ocean's movies, Gilroy allows his actors to skate by with little more than passing-grade line readings and a detached swagger that no plot development could unsettle, leaving the audience to slog, unlubricated by sufficient character engagement, through the laborious twists of his ultimately routine, money-stakes-only espionage caper.

Claire Stenwick (Julia Roberts) and Ray Koval (Clive Owen) meet at Grand Central Station in an apparent case of mistaken identity (he's sure they've met before, she's drawing a blank), but this is revealed as a ruse for prying ears as we leap into a movie-length flashback thread that begins five years prior and proceeds forward in increments. It would be one thing if Gilroy were depending on this cumbersome device to tease out the full-spectrum relationship of his leads, thereby allowing the audience to make educated guesses as to who's zoomin' who, but he mostly eschews purposeful interludes in favor of needless elaborations on what's easily stipulated—that they plan to snatch the miracle product for themselves, for example—as well as wheel-spinning pillow-talk episodes, the most eyebrow-raising of which sees Ray critiquing Claire's reading during a bedroom rehearsal of their mistaken identity gag, prompting her to play the offended actress. "You're directing me?" Julia twice guffaws, with eyes agleam and drawbridge-mouth open, setting her Claire-ness aside in all confidence that no mortal audience member will resist opting in to this Julia-being-Julia moment.

His easy enthrallment to diminished starpower and misguided belief in the unalloyed joy of solving timeline puzzles aside, Gilroy also proves here, as with Clayton, that he's nothing if not an adept visualist. Scenes of basement-level intrigue, such as when sleeve-rolling upstart CEO Paul Giamatti visits his own counter-intel bunker to kick some ass, are bathed in soothing oceanic blues; from there, we move up the cold-color spectrum to heavy grays and royal whites that lend an air of sterility to the office tower of Giamatti's corporate rival, fattened-alligator-in-a-suit Tom Wilkinson. Needless to say, Wilkinson masticates the hell out of his one meaty scene, a master of the universe musing about how corporate synergy is being aided by, among other things, global condom overuse. This amusing monologue is ostensibly directed at his seated hireling, Claire, but she remains so stone-quiet and glassy-eyed throughout that she's hardly present, a fitting approximation of the zeal for craft Roberts demonstrates throughout the film.

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ARMOND WHITE-
Funny how crusading liberal movie stars love to play crooks—such as Julia Roberts’ role as Claire Stenwick, a double-dealing CIA agent in Duplicity. Like George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Brad Pitt and Matt Damon, Roberts doesn’t seem to realize her own duplicity in selling the romance of greed. Duplicity takes movie-star hypocrisy even further: Claire competes with former MI6 agent Roy Koval (Clive Owens) as a private-sector antagonist, then as a lover.

Deceit and sexual disloyalty define their relationship, and writer-director Tony Gilroy seals it with a final-reel kiss. His own duplicitous conceit ensures that an exposé of political and commercial corruption will not extend to Hollywood. Duplicity should have been titled Venality.

Gilroy again ransacks 1970s cinema in the attempt to sell hip cynicism as he did in Michael Clayton. First, Gilroy rips off Three Days of the Condor and Network—touchstones of glib politics. But impenetrable plot convolutions involving competitive hair product manufacturers come right out of 1973’s The Sting.This lousy amalgam recalls Steven Soderbergh’s Oceans franchise, offering outdated escapism and celebrity worship.

That’s why Gilroy reunites Roberts and Owen (from the misanthropic non-hit Closer) in roles that imitate Brangelina in the wildly unethical Mr. & Mrs. Smith, yet with picaresque names like Chinatown.

A third-rate director, Gilroy evinces a shallow grasp of pop mythology. He stages a thong joke as if it were a Supreme Court interrogation. His contrived spy/love/business story tests one’s tolerance for “fun” music cues, “excitement” music cues; “clever” narrative tropes (“18 Months Earlier,” “12 Months Earlier,” “Five Weeks Later,” etc. ); meaningless split-screen montages; and shameless romantic close-ups.The closing clinch between Claire and Roy is bland because Roberts is past her prime (My Best Friend’s Wedding).

Looking as tired as she did in Ocean’s Eleven, Roberts doesn’t convey a single sincere emotion.What good’s a romantic star who can’t inspire fantasy? Or whose only fantasy left is hawking luxe and irresponsibility? By opening this week, Duplicity works to dispel the Bernard Madoff scandal.The likely box-office success for its sexy-funny celebration of big business conniving and domestic distrust only means that Roberts, Owen and Gilroy have made off with the public’s trust.




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Postby Sonic Youth » Thu Mar 19, 2009 9:03 pm

Effervescent Espionage With Two Irresistible Forces
By A. O. SCOTT
New York Times


“Duplicity”: the title suggests something with two sides, but the film itself, the second (after “Michael Clayton”) written and directed by Tony Gilroy, has many more layers and facets. Its densely coiled plot and splintered chronology reveal a cascade of familiar genres and styles. It’s a caper movie, a love story — with Clive Owen and Julia Roberts, no less — an extra-dry corporate satire. However you describe it, “Duplicity” is superior entertainment, the most elegantly pleasurable movie of its kind to come around in a very long time.

The kind of movie it seems most obviously to be — the jet-set spy thriller, decorated with eye-candy vistas of London, New York, Dubai and Rome (among other intrigue-ridden spots) — has suffered a bit of an identity crisis since the end of the cold war. Yes, the James Bond franchise soldiers on, but even at the height of Soviet-American brinksmanship, 007 always conducted his tongue-in-cheek operations on the margins of the grand geopolitical chess game, facing down cartoon supervillains rather than K.G.B. alter egos. It was symmetry — two big nations, armed to the teeth, sending brilliant, cynical operatives out to do their shadowy dirty work — that defined the classic spy game in, for instance, the novels of John le Carré. But the current age of asymmetrical, decentralized conflicts has taken some of the fun and the moral complexity out of fictional espionage, on screen and off.

In his scripts for the three vertiginously involuted “Bourne” movies, Mr. Gilroy has tried to restore some of those qualities, building a fascinating puzzle on the meager foundation of Robert Ludlum’s airport doorstops. “Duplicity,” in the absence of contending, more or less evenly matched superpowers, deploys two multinational corporations, Burkett & Randle and Equikrom, who conduct a steely, ruthless game of proxy battles, psy-ops, counterintelligence and disinformation. Their executives talk the language of grand strategy and total war, and even though their battlefield is the global market for dandruff shampoo, premium diapers and moisturizing creams (or lotions — the distinction apparently matters), nobody regards the stakes as trivial.

The only moment of actual violence in this marvelously tense film, and the only scene of true slapstick in a very funny picture, comes during the opening titles, when the chief executives of the two companies come to blows on a rain-soaked tarmac in front of their corporate jets, seconded by squads of anxious senior vice presidents. I could have watched their flailing, sputtering fisticuffs, played in slow motion with the sound drained away, for at least two hours, imagining any number of real-life C.E.O.’s in place of Paul Giamatti and Tom Wilkinson, who play the two angry captains of industry. Even if the rest of “Duplicity” had fizzled, it would be worth seeing for that sequence alone.

Happily, the movie effervesces instead. The epic struggle between Burkett & Randle and Equikrom is, in a way, a global-capitalism red herring, the scaffolding for a different, more intimate sort of combat. If what thrills you is the swift-moving, unrelenting contest between equal and opposing forces, then the movies you seek out are surely the great romantic comedies of the studio era, verbal boxing matches that draw blood and end in kisses. And you have to go back that far — to the glory days of Katharine Hepburn and Cary Grant, let’s say — to find a duel of sharp wits, hidden agendas and simmering desires as satisfying as what transpires between Julia Roberts and Clive Owen.

The two of them failed to generate much of a spark in Mike Nichols’s “Closer,” but that was surely because the atmosphere in that somber little chamber piece was too damp. Here, from the moment they meet, sipping frozen drinks at a Middle Eastern Fourth of July barbecue, a crackle of sexual tension ignites between them.

“Are you always like this?” she asks, responding to pickup lines that sound as if they were memorized from a feature in Maxim.

“No,” he confesses. “I sometimes act like this, but this is completely different.”

And so he charms her into bed — or rather, falls into the honey trap she has rigged just by standing around the garden in a flowery dress, looking bored. She — Claire is what she’s called, though who knows if it’s her real name — is C.I.A.; he — we’ll call him Ray — is MI6. Apparently they’re not on the same side, but that’s a minor political detail in which the movie has no further concern.

The point of Claire’s initial double cross is to map out the intersection of her and Ray’s professional and sexual interests. He is burned, humiliated, unmanned — and totally smitten. What follows between them is perhaps his revenge, perhaps her repentance and maybe her second act. He was so easy to fool the first time, after all.

Five years after that first, ambiguous roll in the hay, Claire and Ray, retired from government work, are embroiled in the Burkett-Equikrom war. A series of flashbacks establishes that they are working together, but the point of each of those scenes, which bring us closer to the present (via London, Miami and Cleveland), is to make us wonder which is playing the other. Or even, hard as it may be for Ray or Claire or anyone else to believe, whether their allegiance, rooted in lust, greed and maybe something more, is sincere and aboveboard after all.

Along the way, Mr. Owen, on whom a two-piece suit becomes as brazenly sexual a uniform as anything you can imagine, opens many bottles of Champagne and looks hungrily at Ms. Roberts, even though Claire is more of a natural predator than Ray. For this film, her first real starring role in quite a while, Ms. Roberts has almost entirely left behind the coltish, America’s-sweetheart mannerisms, except when she uses them strategically, to disarm or confuse. Curvier than she used to be and with a touch of weariness around her eyes and impatience in her voice, she is, at 41, umistakably in her prime.

Mr. Gilroy’s most ingenious structural gamble — the duplicity of “Duplicity” — is to make foreground and background almost perfectly reversible. It’s a sharp, sexy comedy masquerading as a twisty tale of intrigue, and vice versa. And as soon as you grow impatient with the pre- or postcoital repartee of Ms. Roberts and Mr. Owen, a nimble army of supporting players comes forward to deliver Mr. Gilroy’s mordantly funny dialogue with perfectly straight faces.

Mr. Giamatti and Mr. Wilkinson are a perfectly mismatched set, embodying different styles of corporate arrogance, while their underlings and enforcers (notably Denis O’Hare, Kathleen Chalfant, Tom McCarthy and Rick Worthy) display the varieties of sycophancy, treachery, vanity and incompetence found in every cubicle farm, ever so slightly heightened for comic and suspenseful effect. (Carrie Preston is also marvelous in a few scenes as a Burkett & Randle employee who falls for Mr. Owen in his purest and slyest Cary Grant moment.)

How does it all end? With a flurry of surprises, and also more or less as you always suspected it would. But the answer really depends on which movie you think you’ve been watching: the one about love or the one about power; the cynical farce or the secretly sincere examination of manners and morals in the age of globalization; the cat-and-mouse or the dog-eat-dog. Not that you can necessarily tell, until the very last moment, which is which.
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Postby Sabin » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:28 pm

It seems like the kind of trailer one makes when one has no idea how to sell the movie...which interests me.
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Postby kaytodd » Mon Mar 16, 2009 10:16 pm

The trailer had the same negative effect on me as it had on many of my fellow posters here. I am glad to have a film to look forward to this weekend.

I thought Michael Clayton was terrific in its technical aspects, the acting and the script. I did not know much about the film itself before I saw it. One thought that went through my mind while watching it was "I'll bet this was a great novel. I am surprised I never heard of it." When the credits started at the end I was surprised to see it was an original screenplay.

The best way I can think of to describe it is that each character seemed to have a rich offscreen back story that we never explore because it was not needed for the film. It seemed like Gilroy created a massive novel in which he described in detail the inner lives of these characters and their relationships with each other. He then adapted the novel, removing just what he needed to tell the story on the screen. It felt like I was hearing echoes of or references to the missing parts of the novel in comments, looks and gestures characters made to each other. And I mean this to be a big time compliment to Gilroy's work as a writer and director. The story that made it to the screen was rich, complete and satisfying.

Now it appears Gilroy has scored again with another original screenplay. And I find it very interesting that the film appears to be totally different in tone and spirit. There was nothing fun or stylish about Michael Clayton. I am looking forward to seeing this one.
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Postby Okri » Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:58 pm

I haven't seen the trailer.


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