Film Review

The Mexican

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Ok, it’s got some big names, such as Julia Roberts and Brad Pitt, but is “”The Mexican”” really any good?

Surprisingly, yes. With some good acting and a spicy mix of mobsters, romance and Mexican folklore, “”The Mexican”” pulls together to make for a worthwhile flick.

The hard-headed bagman Jerry (Pitt) is forced to retrieve a priceless gun from Mexico while his overemotional girlfriend Samantha (Roberts) leaves him and runs off to Las Vegas. Jerry heads to Mexico and Samantha gets kidnapped. Throw in some twists and turns, and you have your movie.

As the story unfolds, the history behind the cursed gun is told in a corny but strangely powerful tale in black-and-white scenes. Samantha dodges death and engages in deep psychobabble with her gay kidnapper, while Jerry stumbles through his problems like a modern-day Forrest Gump.

The film ignores all genre lines and keeps the audience members on the edge of their seats in a story you can’t quite pin down. The interaction between such drastically different characters seem unlikely, but stellar performances by Pitt and Roberts create a chemistry that makes the relationship believable.

The movie is like a compilation of different worlds fighting for control of the plot as the story seems to support one view of the world and then the other. From mobster murders to killers in love, you are always wondering what the real point is, what is going to happen next and what world to believe in. Tied together with the theme of love, this movie occasionally borders on cheesy but ends up being original and amusing.

— Heather Clark

Fifteen Minutes

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Take a small marmot, roll him into a ball and throw him down a bowling lane. You may knock over a few pins and you may have a fun time but you’re probably not going to throw a strike. That’s exactly what John Herzfeld’s image and media-probing film, “”Fifteen Minutes,”” does.

Two Eastern Europeans have come to New York and are so vicious so to not only murder, but to film and murder at the same time. Their plan is to exploit the media by selling the films to the highest news show bidder.

Should the murderers be caught, they will plead insanity and utilize America’s forgiving heart to escape the consequences. After all, if America can swallow the trash on talk shows, why not forgive killers?

Trying to catch these two is a weak version of the buddy-cop formula in Jordy Warsaw (Edward Burns) and Eddie Flaming (Robert De Niro).

The movie falters in its details. The title isn’t lying. There are so many top actors (a few surprise cameos) that it feels like Herzfeld was compelled to give everyone his or her 15 minutes. There is little development of De Niro’s character — including a mention of alcoholism that disappears like the La Jolla sunshine — and even less development of Burns’ character. Apparently his character dreamt of fighting fires as a kid. Now you know as much as me.

What this means is that by the end, you might not care who dies, who lives, or what grand message it is you’re supposed to have gotten.

Kudos to the two villains, Emil (Karel Roden) and Oleg (Oleg Taktarov) for playing killers who seem to be getting better at being bad as the movie progresses. They look like they have fun but it’s hard to tell if that should be thought of as frightening or absurd.

Herzfeld’s movie tries to point a critical eye at America, and in this he succeeds. However, the lack of suspense and involvement will leave you apathetic.

Rent this one, or catch it on HBO.

— Eric Dean