Film Friday: ‘Duplicity’ & ‘I Love You, Man’

by W. Andrew Powell


Julia Roberts and Clive Owen in Duplicity

New in theatres this week, Duplicity stars Julia Roberts and Clive Owen as rival corporate spies fighting and falling in love; Paul Rudd stars alongside Jason Segel in the buddy film, I Love You, Man; Bruce MacDonald directs the thinking man’s horror film, Pontypool; and Nick Cage plays a professor trying to unwrap a global disaster in Knowing.

Julia Roberts and Clive Owen are back together in this thriller about two spies working for rival companies competing to find a formula that will make one of the corporations incredibly rich. But what happens to the duo if they find themselves falling in love between the dirty tactics and tricks?

From writer and director Tony Gilroy, who brought Michael Clayton to theatres, this corporate-staged drama has all the trappings of a action-packed adventure. Roberts and Owen had amazing chemistry in their last screen foray, the sexual drama Closer, and Duplicity looks like a natural next step, especially in the case of Gilroy.

Also starring in the film are Tom Wilkinson and Paul Giamatti as the corporate bosses pushing the duo to get the job done at any cost.

Early reviews for the film have been very positive, especially where the cast is concerned.

“In top, sexy form, Julia Roberts and Clive Owen may become the Hepburn and Tracy of their generation after this witty, elegant romantic thriller made for mature audiences,” wrote critic Emanuel Levy for his website, EmanuelLevy.Com.

I Love You, Man
After proposing to his girlfriend, Peter, played by Paul Rudd, realizes the toughest problem ahead of him might be choosing a best man. It is, after all, hard to choose your best friend when you don’t have any friends to begin with.

Going out of his way to meet new guys, Peter eventually finds the right man, although it remains to be seen if his fiancée, played by Rashida Jones, can put up with his choice in friends.

Starring Jason Segel as the B.F.F., this amusing comedy was written and directed by John Hamburg, who also brought us Along Came Polly, and wrote Zoolander and Meet the Fockers.

Considering the number of great comedies Rudd has appeared in, and Segel’s performances to date, I Love You, Man looks like a winning combination of talent. The top critics have already confirmed this, with Devin Faraci of CHUD pointing out the one flaw in this type of loose comedy.

“It’s not bad. It’s often really funny,” Faraci wrote, “but it’s almost completely ephemeral; there’s barely a story in the film, just a concept geared towards getting Rudd and Segel hanging out onscreen for 90 or so minutes.”

Director Alex Proyas is no stranger to dark, foreboding films. After the critically-acclaimed movie Dark City, not to mention Garage Days and I, Robot, he has delivered films with incredible vision, and atmosphere.

In his latest, Nicolas Cage plays professor John Koestler, who discovers that a strange sheet of numbers, stored in a time capsule when he was a boy, actually predicts every major disaster over the last 50 years, including a series of upcoming catastrophes, the last of which could bring humanity to the brink.

While Proyas instils a definite air of disaster across the entire film, it is a little hard not to giggle at times as he borrows liberally from decades of scary movies. It is also unfortunate that these scenes almost always feel borrowed, and utterly cheesy, as when we see the troubled girl standing alone.

Watching the film also left me feeling like the entire key cast, especially Cage, were not given the kind of direction they needed. Throughout most of the film Cage gives a stilted, sometimes even wooden performance, made even worse next to Rose Byrne, who plays Diana Wayland, a character who screeches her way through the end of the film.

Knowing does, however, have an incredible trick up its sleeve and that is the frequently unnerving, but magnificent disasters. If you do end up seeing the film, I don’t want to ruin any of those for you, but while they are gruesome in their realism, they are also genius works of filmmaking.

So, while I admire Proyas and his work here, including a rather intelligent script, the film left a bitter taste in my mouth. Even if you can ignore the acting, the story is just so cheesy, and ends so strangely, that I don’t think many people will enjoy it. If you did, however, enjoy Dark City, you may want to check it out for the brief moments of splendour.

Set in the small, rural town of Pontypool, Ontario, Bruce Macdonald’s latest film has a horde of zombies bent on killing anyone in their path. The catch? The zombie plague is spread through the English language, and the only way to keep yourself safe is to speak French.

As The GATE’s own Christine Estima put it in her review, “Oh, the Quebecois are going to love this movie.”

Starring Stephen McHattie as a shock radio DJ who has been set loose on the wilds of a small-town radio station, the film revolves around the group of workers within the building as they wait out the infection. As more people fall to the virus though, they begin to suspect that the station itself is broadcasting the disease to their listeners.

“This psychological thriller plays out very much like The Blair Witch Project,” Estima wrote, “where the villain is often talked about, but never seen on screen for the majority of the film, thus leaving the horror to our imaginations.”

“There is very little gore and guts in this flick, and it’s all the better for that. This isn’t a slasher horror that gets off on the scream factor. It’s intelligent and leaves you asking questions long after leaving the cinema.”

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