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About taking lives

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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:49 pm    Post subject: About taking lives Reply with quote

premier pictures:


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Angelina Jolie stars in Taking Lives, but the filmmakers are the real boobs

Oh dear. Angelina Jolie's made another bad film. Is it too soon to give up on her yet?
There's no denying that Angelina's sexy as hell. The tattoos, the knife collection, the exhibitionist streak, the bisexual vibe she gives off...totally hot, no question. Given her work with the U.N. and wild animal preserves, it also seems likely she's a good person. Plus she has that Oscar, you know, the gold statue that occasionally correlates to genuine acting talent.

But sadly, there's also Life or Something Like It. Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life. Beyond Borders. Gone in Sixty Seconds. It's beginning to seem as though large breasts and a willingness to flaunt them are the only attributes that separate Ms. Jolie from, say, Cuba Gooding Jr., who -- lest we forget based upon recent oeuvre -- also has one of those gold statues and little to show for it since. The aforementioned hooters are briefly on display in the actress' newest piece of work, Taking Lives, but if that's the allure, better off buying a used copy of Gia or Original Sin than sitting through this latest disappointment.

To make this film a double let-down, the director is D.J. Caruso, whose feature debut, The Salton Sea, was a wild and crazy contemporary noir on speed, which channeled both Christopher Nolan and Quentin Tarantino (not always successfully, but close enough). Here, Caruso is trying to clone Se7en, from the derivative opening credits (note that Philip Glass is no substitute for Trent Reznor when it comes to underscoring said titles) to the decaying interiors lit solely by the flashlights of investigating officers. There are exactly two sudden shocks that work very well, but beyond those, this is no David Fincher flick -- fans of Fincher will yawn, and chances are those who hate the guy won't be won over by Caruso's fetishistic love of severed body parts.

Things start off promisingly enough, with U2's "Bad" cuing us that it's 1983, as a sensitive-looking youngster (Paul Dano, soon to be seen to better effect in The Girl Next Door) runs away from home and hooks up with a military school escapee (Justin Chatwin, from the recent U.S. TV version of Traffic) who apparently plans to get a jump on the '90s by fleeing to Seattle to play guitar. The scenes between the two boys play like an indie film, with shades of Dano's own L.I.E. -- this, we ask ourselves, is a star-driven Hollywood thriller? Then there's a sudden dramatic turn of events, and the Se7en credits are rolling. Damn.

For the rest of the movie, the big mystery, in a nutshell, is this: Which above-the-title movie star has Dano's character grown up to become? Whiny art-dealer Ethan Hawke? Brooding Frenchman Olivier Martinez? Or sinister Kiefer Sutherland, whose onscreen time is so brief he could have shot it on his lunch break from 24? See, whoever it is would apparently be the first serial killer Montreal has ever seen, a situation that puzzles all those French-Canadians so much that they require the services of a busty American FBI lass who likes to lie around in open graves (Jolie, naturally). As a matter of fact, she seems to enjoy lying flat on her back so much that...well, y'know, one is tempted to make some sort of off-color joke about it.

The killer likes to take lives in more ways than one -- after he has bashed a victim's face in with a large rock, he assumes the person's identity for a time. His motivation for such has to do with some nonsense about him being an evil twin; yes, really. Hawke is the key witness to the killer's most recent act of violence -- unless, of course, he's lying and is actually the killer. Martinez is a male chauvinist cop named Paquette (pronounced "baguette" by his French-accented costars with no apparent irony) who'd like to work on the case without interference from Morticia Adams, er, Illeana Scott, or whatever the heck the character of "Angelina Jolie" is being called this time around. Of course, he may just want to get rid of her because he's lying and could really be the killer. Honestly, this stuff makes you long for the heyday of Joe Eszterhas.

In the meantime, Tcheky Karyo (as the chief of police) and Gena Rowlands (as the killer's mom) wander around the periphery without much to do, stranded by the sad-sack screenplay penned by Jon Bokenkamp (Bad Seed) and based on a novel by British historian Michael Pye (all apologies, readers, for not obtaining a timely copy, but granted the author's pedigree, one imagines it's better than the movie, especially since Bokenkamp also gets credit for the "screen story"). The film's finale is truly egregious, a laugh-out-loud combination of ludicrousness and sadism that someone somewhere probably found scary, assuming they never saw a thriller before. Well, save perhaps Dial M for Murder, from which Caruso and Bokenkamp shamelessly try to borrow some business. Too bad their appropriating abilities aren't akin to their killer's, though watching the film does occasionally feel like being struck in the head with a rock.

riverfronttimes.com | originally published: March 17, 2004
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:54 pm    Post subject: Angelina Jolie takes control in 'Taking Lives' Reply with quote

Angelina Jolie finally has a decent movie on her hands, and the dark, suspenseful thriller Taking Lives comes none too soon.

Since winning the supporting-actress Academy Award for 1999's Girl, Interrupted, Jolie has starred in a string of bad movies -- although she has managed to maintain a strong screen presence in the service of rotten films such as Original Sin, Beyond Borders, Life or Something Like It and her two Lara Croft: Tomb Raider outings.

With Taking Lives, Jolie gives her finest performance since her Oscar win and is surrounded by a robust supporting cast in a fairly fresh serial-killer tale.

Co-star Ethan Hawke, an Oscar nominee for Training Day, continues to emerge as a serious actor with far greater range than earlier boyish roles hinted at.

Taking Lives is based on the novel by Michael Pye, though oddly, Jolie's lead character was created specifically for the film and grafted onto the author's tale of a mass-murderer who steals his victims' identities.

Director D.J. Caruso, screenwriter Jon Bokenkamp and their collaborators developed the character of FBI profiler Illeana Scott, who's on loan to Montreal police investigating the slayings of two men.

Her intuitive approach, which includes laying in a suspect's boyhood cot or a victim's makeshift grave to grasp their perspective, uncovers a 20-year chain of unsolved killings that indicate the perpetrator has been targeting loners and assuming their identities because of inadequacies in his own life.

"He's like a hermit crab," Scott says. "He outgrows one shell and starts looking for another."

Her own hard emotional shell softens when she encounters art dealer James Costa (Hawke), a witness to one of the killings who later becomes a suspect and potential victim, along with a romantic interest for the dispassionate Scott.

Jolie's sultry stoniness and Hawke's puppy-dog earnestness mingle well, and the film's twists and surprises -- some fairly obvious, with a few nicely concealed -- give the leads a chance to play out deep, dark passions with convincing sentiment.

Gena Rowlands highlights the supporting cast, making a small role as a suspect's mother her own with a queen-bee arrogance that offers hints of what Norman Bates's mom might have been like before he killed her and started wearing her clothes.

Taking Lives unfortunately makes scant use of Kiefer Sutherland as the prime suspect, who appears in only a few fleeting scenes. Tcheky Karyo, Olivier Martinez and Jean-Hughes Anglade provide depth and personality to the local cops -- some gratified, others resentful over Scott's presence.

Director Caruso, who created fine film-noir ambien in the otherwise dreary 2002 thriller The Salton Sea, this time maintains a good mix of atmosphere and engaging action.

Philip Glass's score has a strong whiff of Hitchcock, tensely repetitive orchestrations that pay affectionate respect to the music of Bernard Hermann.

Taking Lives even musters a couple of twitch-in-your-seat scares, no small accomplishment for contemporary audiences that have pretty much seen it all.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 10:56 pm    Post subject: crowd is taken with Angelina Reply with quote

By William Keck, Special for USA TODAY
HOLLYWOOD — A downpour of leading men flooded Hollywood Boulevard Tuesday night at a hunk-heavy premiere for Warner Bros.' serial killer flick Taking Lives, opening Friday.
While waiting for the film's delayed star, Angelina Jolie, we passed time with her sexy co-stars: Kiefer Sutherland, Ethan Hawke and French actor Olivier Martinez, who was in no mood for chit-chat.

The somber Martinez wore a black ribbon on his jacket in memory of the victims of last week's terrorist attacks in Madrid. "I want to remind you guys that what happened in Spain is a little bit like what happened on 9/11," he said. "I haven't heard a lot about what happened in Spain while I've been here in America."

Sutherland was laid-back in blue jeans and a Richard Tyler jacket. Hawke had trouble identifying the designer of his black corduroy suit. Finally abandoning his mad label hunt, he explained that "it was a gift ... from Uma." (As in estranged wife Thurman.)

Hawke and Thurman's children (Maya, 5, and Roan, 2) befriended Jolie's son, Maddox, 2½, during the Montreal shoot. They played in a room near the film's eerie morgue set, but protective pop Hawke said, "They never saw the carnage, although I did hear, 'Daddy, why do you have blood on your hands?' "

The cast laughed off frequent reports of on-set romances, director D.J. Caruso says. "There were so many rumors about who was having an affair with whom. We joked that if you called Kiefer's cell phone, Angie would answer; if you called Angie's cell phone, Ethan might answer. I don't know what it is about Angelina."

always-unpredictable Jolie kept journalists sweating by disappearing into the theater without uttering a word to the media.

She emerged a few moments later, only to high-tail it across the boulevard in her 5-inch gold Michael Kors heels to sign an entire block's length of fan autographs. Some fans rewarded the actress with Cambodian toys for Maddox.

Just as it appeared that Jolie was about to take a turn onto Highland and disappear for good, she returned to Grauman's — her hands and sand-colored Céline dress both stained with black magic marker, battle wounds from overzealous autograph hounds.

Jolie's hair has been softened with blond highlights for her role as Brad Pitt's suburban wife in Mr. and Mrs. Smith. The duo play married assassins each hired to kill the other. And next week, Jolie's Lara Croft stunt double will appear on set for scenes in which Jolie and Pitt beat each other up.

Jolie has completed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, in which she stars opposite her friend of 11 years, Jude Law. "Jude was the best man at my first wedding," she said. "We're like brother and sister."

In between Law and Pitt, Jolie found time to squeeze in Alexander with Colin Farrell. Despite talk of romance, the two, she said, are "very, very close friends ... but we're not a couple. Maddox will always be the main man in my life."
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:00 pm    Post subject: Angelina halts traffic Reply with quote

Angelina Jolie has been stopping traffic at the premiere of her latest movie.

Thousands turned up to see her at the US premiere of her latest film 'Taking Lives'. Angelina's bodyguards had to run after her when she legged it across Hollywood Boulevard to talk to the crowds. Traffic ground to a halt as she chatted with fans.

In the movie she plays an FBI profiler who uses psychic powers to track down killers. Angelina says she has her own experience of the spirit world.

"Billy Bob's mom, who's psychic, a long time ago used to see an eskimo somehow related to me. Yeah, she saw it for about 14 years."

'Taking Lives' also stars Ethan Hawke and Kiefer Sutherland. It opens here(USA) on Friday, 19.
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PostPosted: Thu Mar 18, 2004 11:04 pm    Post subject: ‘Taking Lives’ Takes Chances—And Almost Succeeds Reply with quote

Thursday, March 18, 2004 (the daily californian online)

Unpretentious confidence and slowly built trust both completely dismantled in a time frame as short as the closing of an elevator door—exactly the shattering, ephemeral moment Angelina Jolie experiences in director D.J. Caruso’s "Taking Lives."
With a scene revealing the beginning of the main antagonist’s killing habits, the tone is set before the credits roll. And this tone of mysterious events immediately carries over with the introduction of Special Agent Illeana Scott, played by Jolie. After Montreal detectives hit an obstacle with a local homicide case, they call in Scott. First seen lying in the hole of a recently uncovered corpse, Scott is a respected FBI profiler, using unorthodox methods to solve murder cases. Meticulous sensitivity and insight regarding her surroundings bring Scott steps closer to solving the case, like realizing the homicide was premeditated simply by observing the measurements of the corpse’s hole.

Having no true leads, Scott and the Montreal police eventually encounter James Costa, played by Ethan Hawke, an art dealer who witnessed the murderer’s recent killing and becomes a crucial role in solving the case. Realizing that Costa is the serial killer’s next target, the police set out to capture the criminal with Costa as bait. After drawing out the killer, the film is finally able to do what it’s seemingly been itching to do since the first five minutes.

In the second half of the film, all the previous puzzle pieces of information slowly distort as Caruso pulls out what seems like an orgy of plot twists. Notions of who the murderer really is and who is fooling whom scramble around the story as Caruso leads us through shootouts, "Where’s Waldo" running scenes, and car chase rides.

Whereas usual thrillers try to integrate actions scenes only to result in plot killers, "Taking Lives" succeeds in balancing the brawns and the brains of the movie. Caruso gives us a nice portion of a car chase around Montreal, swiftly ending the scene and preventing it from becoming some pointless, wild goose chase. There’s also a smooth pacing of story coupled with brief spots of action, not letting the audience overlook the main intentions of the overall story.

Jolie also does an apt rendition of the character Scott. Jolie’s own mysteriousness translates well into the eerily reserved FBI ***. There’s this austere quality to the actress that normally doesn’t work well in other films, but easily blends with the atmosphere of "Taking Lives," resulting in some emotionally humane scenes. Hawke is also notable for his performance, able to lose himself in Costa’s genuine nervousness that also swirls into menacing desperation.

The only real gripe is that this film periodically tries to cover too much ground, creating bad transitions between a few scenes. Subtle character attraction that suddenly jumps into animal sex makes the romance seem ridiculous. Presenting psychological insight into the case also seems like a half-baked concept: the subplot is so abrupt that in the end, this has ultimately no fluid connection with the audience.

But these are only minor flaws that don’t take away from the overall intentions of the movie. And although various plot twists become *** predictable, there’s still freshness in the way Caruso explains those twists.

Mainly a psycho-pop thriller and action-fueled cop drama, "Taking Lives" is a bold effort to intelligently mix genres, resulting in an enjoyable experience, even if it doesn’t quite achieve all it tries to be.
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