Half Nelson is one of those movies that fit perfectly into what I like to find on Netflix instant streaming. It was a small movie that I didn’t have an opportunity to see but heard a lot about. Ryan Gossling got great reviews for his all out performance. I usually like performance movies, and this was one that heavily relied on Ryan to make it interesting. Sadly, he is the only thing to watch in the movie and it doesn’t quite hit the mark where I really felt for his character.
An unlikely friendship that develops between Dan Dunne, a desperate, about to lose everything teacher and his on the brink of falling into the wrong crowd student named Drey does make for an interesting story. I did like how they tried to balance Dunne’s efforts to help Drey make the right choices when he can’t even seem to take care of himself. His character has such a strong desire to change one person’s life, give back to those who need it, inspire someone for the better yet he is unable to find happiness or inspiration in his own life.
The uplifting part is that maybe, with each other, they can overcome the difficult positions they are in.
Occassionally the cover art for a movie on Netflix will entice me enough to watch it even though I don’t know anything else about the move. That was the case for Gun Shy. The cover made it look like it would be a good movie. Well, it is a movie with big names like Sandra Bullock as executive producer, Liam Neeson, Oliver Platt. The writer/director has a background in television writing, and this movie felt like a tv concept put into a movie. It needed those 22 episodes to flesh out all that the story was trying carrying. Instead, they just sailed through leaving you underwhelmed.
Liam Neeson stars as Charlie, a veteran, undercover DEA agent on the brink of a mental break down after his last mission has gone terribly wrong. Yet he is forced to carry out the mission to the end and left to deal with his upset bowels from the stress of the chaos that ensues. Luckily, or not, he finds relief in a chance meeting with a women that brings a ray of sunshine to his unrest.
Although in concept it sounds like a solid story the actual storytelling is under developed, they just seemed to move the story along giving it all an emptiness that is hard to overcome. I didn’t believe or feel the connection in the love story. Sandra Bullock was suppose to be the free spirit liberator of Agent Charlie’s uptight stress case, yet they didn’t even seem to like each other. The most enjoyable interactions were with Liam’s DEA agent and his mafia muscle-with-no-brains target namve Fulvio played by Oliver Platt.
Overall it had the right pieces for a big movie with some potential, but Netflix is the place to watch it.
Lastly, Freakonomics is the documentary about the incredibly popular book. Steven Levitt, the economist and Stephen Dubner as the journalist are the authors that sit down and talk about some of the highlights of the book. If you have read it, you will recognize many of the segments. Unfortunately some of the most interesting studies from the book were left out of the movie. It does do a great job of making economics super interesting by finding unlikely relationships and motivations for behaviors. The only problem is that they had already accomplished that in the book. Basically, read the book, it’s more interesting and well-rounded.