The Book of Eli
The latest film from the Hughes Brothers plays like "The Road" meets "Mad Max" with stunning cinematography and well choreographed fight scenes added to the mix. While the Hughes may work at a deliberate pace (five films over 17 years), their attention to detail pays off in a fast paced film that takes on religion and responsibility without becoming overwrought or belligerent.
Denzel Washington gets back on track to A-List status (after several clunkers: Man on Fire, Deja Vu, The Taking of Pelham 123) and shows he has some action star chops. The cast is filled with a strong array of talent from Gary Oldman and Jennifer Beals to Ray Stevenson and Mila Kunis.
Washington stars as Eli, a man walking west with a bible in his possession. The scenery is scorched and bleak - the result of nuclear fallout 30 years prior to the film's time frame. Eli enters a town, which are few and far between, run by Oldman, who is searching for a bible. Oldman wants to utilize the book's "powers" to expand his empire. While the post-apocalyptic premise is old hat in the movie industry, the Hughes instill some fresh air into the staid plot. The resolution even pays homage to a Japanese staple. See it.
Tom Ford has made the jump from American fashion design to movie direction and he has done so with great aplomb. His first feature is saturated with keen composition and each shot is reminiscent of a fashion ad. Each shot, however, contains reverence and poise - a depth that most ads lack. Colin Firth is transformative as George: a gay, middle-aged man in the 1960s who has lost his lover (Matthew Goode) and struggles to maintain his composure amidst an empty bed and an emptier heart. The film is a juxtaposition of present day strife, memories of happier times, and George's morbid dreams and fantasies of Jim's death.
I really liked the cinematography and composure of this film. Ford was very delicate with the set up and executed every shot as if it was the most important of the movie. His fashionable eye for detail has translated well to the screen and the performance by Firth creates a very strong film overall. Given the subject matter and the nature of Ford's background, the film maybe overlooked - which is a travesty. Hollywood rags should be talking about Firth as the Academy's best actor, not some chump named Clooney. See it.