An undercover cop and a mole in the police attempt to identify each other while infiltrating an Irish gang in South Boston. (IMDb)
The double-deception plot is almost too perfect, given all the suspense and intrigue it generates, and with DiCaprio’s violent Billy and Damon’s more subtly unscrupulous Colin, offers a nuanced take on good guy and bad guy archetypes that’s further complicated by a smoky love triangle sub-plot and capped off by a bloody, twist-filled final act (the final shot was admittedly a bit much). Colourful dialogue and great gritty music and cinematography round out this impeccably acted crime drama.
An astronaut becomes stranded on Mars after his team assume him dead, and must rely on his ingenuity to find a way to signal to Earth that he is alive. (IMDb)
A skimming over of emotions and the consequences of time (particularly with the crew’s decision to go back) are the only standout flaws in this exhilarating thriller featuring a fast-paced back-and-forth between satisfying survival science-ing on Mars (Damon’s Mark adds a wry wit to the proceedings) and tense rescue-planning on Earth (a refreshingly diverse cast shines here). Any lack of suspense in the quickly solved conflicts of the first half is made up for in the nail-biting climax.
A young man is a reformed gambler who must return to playing big stakes poker to help a friend pay off loan sharks. (IMDb)
The many poker scenes throughout here are certainly entertaining, with Damon’s soft voiceovers filling you in on all the fascinating features of the game, but they aren’t enough to make up for a plot that feels more like a poker player’s pipe dream than a legitimate drama: It’s too easy and cliche and fumbles the potential of its two interesting lead characters (Norton’s Worm especially begged for more study). All told, it’s a good flick–just needed more focus on the story and less on the poker.
Will Hunting, a janitor at M.I.T., has a gift for mathematics, but needs help from a psychologist to find direction in his life. (IMDb)
Powerful turns all around deliver scene after scene of raw and potent dialogue, seen most notably in Will and Sean’s widely varied but always intense emotional moments in therapy, but also in each of their secondary relationships with Skylar and Gerald, respectively. Mixed into the moving character studies that arise is thought-provoking discourse on dealing with the past, fulfilling potential, and finding purpose. This rich script is iced nicely with a beautiful acoustic soundtrack.