January Blind Spot Review: Eastern Promises (2007)

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“Anger is dangerous. It makes people do stupid things.”
– Nikolai Luzhin

SYNOPSIS: A Russian teenager living in London who dies during childbirth leaves clues to a midwife in her journal that could tie her child to a rape involving a violent Russian mob family. – via IMDB

I have been meaning to watch this for ages (imagine that?!) and decided it was time to get it off my Neflix list so I could at least move on with my life, and I have always heard how good Viggo Mortensen is in this one. Well, let me tell you, he is hands down the best thing about this movie, that’s for sure. I know Mark, another instance where you and I aren’t seeing eye to eye 😦

I found Eastern Promises to be tonally uneven, and the story skipped around too much for my liking. Not artistically, either, just messy and contrived. There were moments in this where you could totally see how great it could have been. It dealt with a heavy story and had so much more potential than it ultimately went with. Like, there were moments I sat there and I was like “wow, this could have been phenomenal“, but the execution, off-key acting and everything just bogged it down.

I like Vincent Cassel, but he just didn’t nail this down properly, and came across as more awkward than anything. Armin Mueller-Stahl is also good, and does the sinister Russian mob boss just fine, what with a more understated portrayal. Naomi Watts just didn’t really work for me – she didn’t come across as sincere at all. But then, I find that to be the case with her more often than not. That brings me to Viggo Mortensen, and holy crap, he was fantastic here. I mean, the guy is a solid actor, and this outing from him highlights that about him once again. He can rise to the occasion, and looks like he did a lot of research for this role, and he comes across as authentic. He was well worth the watch, and made the movie worth watching. 

The violence you see in this is not too frequent, and isn’t as crazy as some movies (I totally think that stupid fucking Saw franchise warped my concept of what is considered “violent” more than it was before that), and it pretty much all served a purpose, it wasn’t just random and there to be there.

Overall, I found Eastern Promises to be a movie that didn’t have the guts to go for glory, or just missed out on the vision. Not a terrible movie, but it is a rather flat affair all round, except for Mortensen, who really gets into his role of Nikolai.

Blind Spot Series 2017 Rankings

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So, another year gone, another twelve movies crossed off of my Blind Spot list. For the most part, I had particularly good movies this year. For the most part…

Anyway, as always, I decided to rank them all here.

12. Deliverance (1972)

Well. This. Fuck this movie. I will say it again, fuck this movie. Yep, totally hated it. I am sure you all remember the Shitfest-worthy meltdown I had about this. If you don’t, you are more than welcome to head on back to the review linked above to see how I raged. Ugh…

11. Once Upon A Time In America (1984)

Certainly not an underrated gem as I was led to believe, I was so amped to finally watch this gangster movie and was totally let down by it. What a waste of nearly four hours of my life!

10. Cronos (1993)

While I am always up for Guillermo Del Toro’s Spanish works, this one was not nearly as great as I was hoping it would be. It was not a bad movie by a long shot, but it does not stand equal to The Devil’s Backbone or Pan’s Labyrinth.

9. The Road (2009)

Dark, depressing, apocalyptic, The Road definitely paints a super depressing, far more realistic apocalyptic future than these movies usually portray. Viggo Mortensen is exellent, and Kodi Smit-McPhee also holds his own in the bleak movie. Worth the watch!

8. Say Anything (1989)

So pleased to have seen this –  it is one of those movies that is referenced all over the show, and I have never really known how it all fit in. Man, Lloyd Dobler is absolutely adorable and the boombox over the head scene finally makes sense now. Say Anything is sweet, but not to soppy your stomach churns. Enjoyed this one!

7. The Help (2011)

Okay, so right off the bat, this is not unpredictable, but that doesn’t make it bad. The Help is rather formulaic, and shies away from some of the sick history it is steeped in, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t find other ways to run home the story. There are terribly sad moments, moments that will make you mad, and some great sections with some fantastic humour, and the movie has heart. The cast, too, definitely sold this one.

6. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)

I didn’t really know what to expect going into this, but I really liked this one. I thought it was funny and shot really well and rather strange, but it all worked. I would like to rewatch it and see if it holds up as well. I must admit, this is where I finally understood Tom Hiddleston’s appeal to the world – before he was just a decent actor. After this? Impressed. Plus I liked the humour in this. So deadpan. Swinton and Hiddleston make this a treat.

5. The Orphanage (2007)

Another one of those cult classic type movies I have vowed for years to get to and just never did, 2017 was the year that changed. The Orphanage is haunting, sad, beautiful and creepy, and has a solid story as a strong psychological aspect to it, making it a movie that gets under your skin and lingers long after, not just a typical, generic horror movie at all.

4. JFK (1991)

Conspiracy theories galore! Naturally this was totally going to be my cup of tea, and it totally was. There were some solid performances and I was particularly interested in how Stone would set out his case for JFK’s assassination. While I feel that it was heavy handed in forcing his interpretation of events down the viewer’s throat, if you watch this as a theory and not as the gospel of the answers to JFK’s assassination, you are in for a good time. Great starting point for those not too familiar with the intricacies of the infamous case.

3. City of God (2002)

I can see why this movie is so popular – it is so not an easy watch, but it is engaging, gritty, violent, realistic, and truly gets you thinking. It tells a super solid story and it draws you in, getting you invested in some characters from this nasty slum. It is depressing and yet completely enthralling, something I can see myself revisiting.

2. Rear Window (1954)

James Stewart man, what an actor. The man is amazing, and with Grace Kelly at his side, the duo was bound to impress. Hitchcock, too, weaves a tense one-room story, which is carried and fleshed out completely by a talented cast. The tension is palpable, the story is smart and engaging, and the pacing is just right. Rear Window is a well-crafted movie and definitely worth the time.

1. Atonement (2007)

Ah, Atonement. Where do we even start? My goodness, what a watch. While it is not completely perfect or shocking, and it is predictable in places, it is handled so well and is shot brilliantly – truly, what beautiful shots. James McAvoy is absolutely perfect here, sweeping us all up so completely in Robbie. Keira Knightley, too,  managed to not work on my last nerve. The two work together well, and Atonement tells one hell of a story, a journey I both loved and resented in equal measure. I thought it was told so well, and some details were handled with such aplomb. What a movie, though certainly not a light, easy watch.