At the Movies: Hereafter, Conviction, Stone

“Jackass 3D” earned $50 million its first weekend? And people say this country is headed in the wrong direction.

Hereafter

The big problem with the Big Question — What happens to us after we die? — is that you have to die to learn the answer. And by that point it doesn’t really matter.

Still, lots of people like to tackle the subject and the latest to do so is Clint Eastwood with his new movie “Hereafter.” The film examines three people dealing with death.

First up is Marie LeLay (Cécile De France), a French journalist who barely survives a tsunami. Her near-death experience leaves her shaken and unable to go back to work. Her boss/lover (Thierry Neuvic) suggests she take time off and write a book. Marie agrees to write a political biography but becomes obsessed with the Big Question and turns her efforts there.

Meanwhile in London, twins Marcus and Jason (Frankie and George McLaren) are trying to keep their alcoholic mother (Lyndsey Marshal) from getting caught by social services. When Jason — the slightly older and much more outgoing of the two brothers — is killed in a car accident, quiet Marcus goes looking for answers.

Back in these United States, psychic George Lonegan (Matt Damon) just wants to get away from death. He has the ability to talk to deceased family members of anyone he touches. He sees it as a curse, his brother (Jay Mohr) sees it as a way to make money.

“Hereafter” weaves back and forth through these three stories until it’s time for the three leads to collide. It’s a sad, stark and compelling film. The tidal wave sequence that opens the movie is effective and exhilarating but don’t  come here looking for a disaster movie. After the initial rush, “Hereafter” is a quiet, slow-moving tale.

The film’s major drawback is the ending. Eastwood doesn’t have the answer either so after 2 hours of searching we’re left with an unsatisfying resolution. Which is pretty much what I expected would happen.

Did it work for me? The journey was worthwhile even if  I was disappointed by the final destination.

Conviction

“Conviction” is based on the true story of a woman who dedicates 18 years of her life to getting her brother out of prison. It’s an amazing, touching story.

If I were sent to prison on false charges, my siblings would spend 18 minutes arguing over who gets to sell my comic book collection.

Betty Anne and Kenny Waters (Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell) grew up poor and with only each other to rely on. Kenny has a temper and often gets in trouble with the law.

In 1980 a woman in town is found dead in her home. Local authorities, led by a corrupt cop (Melissa Leo) with an axe to grind, pin the murder on Kenny. Lacking the resources to hire a good attorney, Kenny is convicted and sent away for life.

Betty Anne decides if she can’t hire a good lawyer, she’ll become one. But first she’ll need to get her GED. Then she’ll need to get into college. Then she’ll need to finish an undergraduate degree. Then she’ll need to get into law school. Then she’ll need to pass the bar exam.

My sisters would have settled on a Christmas card every year.

Betty Anne’s obsession wrecks havoc with her marriage, but she finds a friend and ally in fellow law student Abra Rice (Minnie Driver). As the years go by, breakthroughs using DNA evidence give Betty Anne hope. But she’ll encounter many obstacles on the path to her brother’s freedom.

Directed by Tony Goldwyn, “Conviction” is a pretty standard inspirational true story. Swank and Rockwell do good work — you’re rooting for Betty Anne even while you’re not sure if Kenny is innocent.

The second half of the film does feel like it drags a bit, as Betty Anne and company encounter roadblock after roadblock. It becomes tiresome — and that’s just living through the story condensed into two hours. I can’t imagine living through it over almost two decades.

Did it work for me? Yep.

Stone

You wouldn’t think it possible to make a bad movie with acting heavyweights Robert De Niro and Edward Norton, but “Stone” comes pretty close.

And you wouldn’t think De Niro and Norton could be overshadowed by Milla Jovovich — best known for shooting up zombies in the “Resident Evil” series — but that’s what happens here.

De Niro stars as Jack, a worn-out parole officer just weeks from retirement. Norton plays Gerald “Stone” Creeson, a convicted arsonist and one of Jack’s final cases. Stone wants out of prison and Jack is all that stands in his way.

To help in his cause, Stone convinces his wife Lucetta (Jovovich) to seduce the old man. Jack’s home life is stifling and Lucetta is enticing, so the seduction doesn’t take much effort.

Despite its A-list cast, “Stone” is slow, tedious and predictable. If there was an exciting moment to this film it must have happened on those occasions where I dozed off. It has an odd opening, an unsatisfactory ending and everything in between is tiresome.

Did it work for me? Sadly, no. The actors do good work but it’s not enough to overcome such a lackluster story.

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

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2 responses to “At the Movies: Hereafter, Conviction, Stone

  1. I can’t speak for your other siblings, but if you were sent to prison on false charges, the only comics I want from your collection are those featuring Archie, Betty & Veronica … and you have been pretty good over the years to give those to me when you come across them at Free Comic Book Day. Randy would only want those featuring Conan the Barbarian and I am “Convicted” Teresa would not fight for the selling rights to the rest of your collection. After all, we would want you to rest in peace and not be wondering in the “Hereafter” what was happening to your precious comic book collection.

  2. p.s. Since we are confident Laura could successfully defend you in a trial, there’s really no need for your sisters to go to law school. And, yes, we would definitely send you Christmas cards every year. (And maybe some pictures from our sibling trip next spring to New York to see Spider-Man, The Musical. So sorry you would have to miss that …..)

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