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Missed opportunities

By Bert Ehrmann

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Fort Wayne Reader

2008-03-10


Even though I try to see around one new movie a week, I still canít see everything I want to in the theater. Be it conflicts with other movies, not having the time in a given week to make it to the theater, bad word of mouth or even not wanting to waste my hard earned dough on a movie I suspect will be a stinker, great movies do slip by me.

Thankfully, though, even when I miss a great movie in the theater I can still catch it on DVD release. Consider these three movies an addendum to my ďbest of 2007Ē list.

I didnít see Sunshine in theaters because, quite frankly, I thought it wasnít going to be that good. Bad word of mouth followed this film, and a release date change from fall of 2006 to summer í07 didnít bode well either. But I was wrong; Sunshine was one of the best movies last year that was overlooked by me and most everyone else.

In Sunshine, itís 50 years in the future and the output of our Sun has declined, threatening to freeze the Earth in an extinction winter. Enter the Icarus II, a ship equipped with a bomb the size of Manhattan meant to jump start the Sun and save our planet. But things go wrong on the Icarus II after the crew finds the Icarus I just short of the Sun and decides to explore that ship to see if the bomb there is still viable.

Admittedly, the plot of Sunshine sounds like something recycled from a bad episode of Stargate, yet how the story is handled separates Sunshine from the pack. Iím not sure Iíve ever seen characters like the crew of the Icarus II depicted in a sci-fi film before. Each crewmember has his or her own voice and no one seems too gung ho about the prospects of a one-way trip to the heart of the Sun.

Though I did see Michael Clayton in the theater, I missed the initial release back in September and only saw it on re-release this January. It was only when the film was nominated for seven Oscars that I figured I should see Michael Clayton while I had the chance.

George Clooney plays the title character, a lawyer so morally bankrupt in both his personal and professional life heís hit rock bottom. Enter Arthur Edens (Tom Wilkinson), another lawyer whoís suffered a mental breakdown; for the past 17 years, heís been defending a chemical company in a multi-billion dollar lawsuit, and has finally had enough. Clayton is called to bring Edens in, but when that much money is on the line there are no limits to what those involved are willing to do to control the ensuing chaos.

I was amazed at the structure of the story as well as the performances within. Iíve been a big fan of Clooney from his E.R. years, and his performance in Michael Clayton doesnít disappoint. In fact, the movie is so good and features such star power, I canít imagine why it wasnít a smashing success. Itís the rare movie I wanted to stand up and cheer at the end.

I never went to see the movie Gone Baby Gone in theaters because I didnít believe that first time director and co-writer Ben Affleck was capable of creating a great movie. Again I was wrong. Gone Baby Gone is one of the most well written/crafted movies of the last few years, let alone 2007.

In Gone Baby Gone, Benís brother Casey Affleck plays Patrick Kenzie, a private detective with connections to inner-city Boston neighborhoods who is hired to track down missing child Amanda McCready. The story curls around and takes some unexpected turns along the way to conclusion. Just when you think youíve got Gone Baby Gone figured out and where McCready is, the story takes a logical left turn into unexpected territory.

All of the movies profiled above are currently available on DVD. Next time Iíll discuss what I consider to be the most overlooked movie gem of 2007 Ė see you in two weeks! E-mail me at words@dangerousuniverse.com.

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