Tag Archives: clive owen

DUPLICITY Duo Does Wrong Right


Julia Roberts and Clive Owen radiate enough chemistry to blow up a lab in Tony Gilroy’s follow-up to Michael Clayton. Whereas that George Clooney-starrer left me a little cold, Roberts’s presence warms up Duplicity and the relationship between her and Owen makes it more playful. They’re certainly having fun lying to—and lying down with—each other and the energy is infectious.

j-in-trenchThe story revolves around C.I.A. agent Claire Stenwick (Roberts) and MI-6 operative Ray Koval (Owen) who hatch their own scheme of corporate espionage so they can get rich, get out and spend the rest of their lives having hot sex on fat piles of money (well, they didn’t say that exactly but that’s the gist). Their plan is to steal a valuable trade secret from one company and sell it to a competitor. Neither spy trusts the other but that’s what keeps them on their toes and at the top of their game. There are double and triple crosses and things are rarely as they seem. Don’t worry if you get confused, though, because the plot doesn’t really matter. It’s just an excuse for the two stars to bicker and flirt and for us to have a good time watching them.

Roberts is luminous as the wily Claire (is her last name a subtle homage to the great femme Barbara Stanwyck?) and her return to leading lady status is welcome. Hollywood keeps looking for the next Julia Roberts but this one is still as fetching as ever and she ain’t going anywhere. She saunters through the streets of Rome and New York City with a confident swagger powered by almost 20 years of superstardom. Motherhood has also added gravitas and sophistication to the once colt-like girl, making her even more compelling to watch. 

cliveOwen matches her in skill and sex appeal every step of the way, finally starring in a movie that takes full advantage of his smoldering charisma (Exhibit One: A scene with him walking around in only a towel). I saw this man in person once and the star power he exuded was enough to knock you back a few feet. But for whatever reason, he’s never had a huge hit to launch him into the same stratosphere as the Brad Pitts and Hugh Jackmans. Hopefully, Duplicity will do the trick so we can see Owen’s full, um, potential.

Director/writer Gilroy has given us an entertaining movie that proves a big studio product can still be smart. The formulas he uses, here and in the Jason Bourne movies, should be stolen and copied by other studios. They could make more money, audiences would be happier, and everybody wins.

Nerd Verdict: Smart, stylish, and sexy spy caper

Low Interest at THE INTERNATIONAL, SHOP Elsewhere for a Good Movie

Valentine’s Day was this weekend so I wanted to see something romantic. But, not being a very girly girl, I also wanted to balance out my moviegoing experience with something more muscular with actions and thrills. So I saw The International first, then Confessions of a Shopaholic. Turns out they both had the same theme—bankers/debt collectors are evil—and neither gave me a very good return on my money.


I didn’t know much about The International‘s plot but was attracted by headliners Clive Owen and Naomi Watts, as well as director Tom Tykwer. Tykwer directed Run, Lola, Run, the terrifically kinetic German thriller starring Franka Potente that was nonstop awesomeness. Characters in International move more slowly and with less energy, which is okay, except for the parts when they’re boring.

2009_the_international_021The bad guys are executives at a powerful, international bank who are providing arms to small countries in conflict. They also assassinate people. I can’t say that bankers—these bankers, anyway—are the most compelling villains but considering the economic mess we’re in, they make relevant bad guys. Owen plays an Interpol agent trying to stop them and Watts is a New York City ADA working with him. Both turn in adequate performances; it isn’t the best work for either. If you’ve ever seen a thriller, any thriller, you can predict almost everything that happens in this movie, but there is a jaw-droppingly spectacular shootout in the Guggenheim that’s gutsy, original and worth seeing.

CONFESSIONS OF A SHOPAHOLICShopaholic is a much bouncier and more colorful affair than International but the creditors in this movie—one in particular named Derek Smeath—aren’t very friendly, either. Our heroine, Rebecca Bloomwood (Isla Fisher), is the titular girl who’s addicted to designer labels despite her mountain of debt. Ironically (and quite implausibly, but that’s another matter), she becomes famous as a financial advice columnist. Smeath is the relentless debt collector who’s out to get literal payback from Rebecca and expose her hypocrisy.

The movie, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer (who might have been more at home producing International), is based on the first two books in the popular Shopaholic series by Sophie Kinsella. Becky is British in the books and I’ve always seen/heard her that way in my head so her being American in the film took some getting used to. Isla Fisher is Australian and probably could’ve done a very convincing British accent. Regardless, she is like a platinum card with no limit on her comedy potential. She dives into her role (sometimes literally) with gusto, totally unconcerned about whether she’d muss up her hair or fancy wardrobe (put together by the inimitable Patricia Field from Sex and the City fame).

2009_confessions_of_a_shopaholic_0101But despite Fisher’s winning, energetic performance, she seems to be running in place because the movie is a pastiche of scenes that don’t add up to one cohesive plot. It’s like a big, pretty package that contains mostly styrofoam peanuts on the inside. Hugh Dancy, whom I really, really like, plays love-interest Luke capably enough (with British accent intact!) but he looks too young to be editor of a magazine (he owns a PR firm in the books) and there’s not much chemistry between him and Fisher. They’re two talented actors thrown together and told to act cute but there’s no real heat.

2009_confessions_of_a_shopaholic_011The supporting cast is overstuffed with accomplished actors like Kristin Scott Thomas, John Lithgow, John Goodman, Joan Cusack, and Wendie Malick, who aren’t given much to do. Lynn Redgrave practically does extra work in a cameo that surely won’t do anything to improve her credit(s). Also, it was disconcerting to see 46-year-old Cusack play 33-year-old Fisher’s mom.

I know times are tough right now but I had no problem watching Becky go shopping and dressed in pretty clothes. Fantasy is more fun than a movie about the economic crisis. But this flick is like a purchase you instantly regret as soon as you get home. My advice? Wait ’til it goes on sale as a DVD.

Ratings—The International: Okay. Confessions: Okay.