Friday, May 14, 2004

Troy / ** (2004)

Poor Orlando Bloom has never been much of an actor behind the pretty brown eyes and the chiseled physique, but if there is one thing that has always been certain in most of his movies, it's that he gets back-burnered long before the audience has a chance to catch on to his shortcomings as a dialogue reader. So is not the case with the new vehicle "Troy," however; in an ambitious motion picture that contains timeless thespians like Peter O'Toole, Brendan Gleeson and Brian Cox, the plot makes his character, a Trojan prince named Paris, one of the primary narrative centers, an action that leads to moments in which he blankly stares into the eyes of others while struggling with long-winded movie rhetoric, seemingly preoccupied with the fear that he might not be reciting lines exactly as they were written in the screenplay. The result is almost too insufferable for words, a performance so stiff and monotone that it almost makes costar Brad Pitt's own career of one-note renditions seem respectable in comparison.

I'm Not Scared / **** (2004)

Our movies have become starved for protagonists that exist outside of the shell of the conventional, and in Gabriele Salvatores' "I'm Not Scared" we see one director's attempt to nourish that prospect. Young and adventurous, Michele (Giuseppe Cristiano) is an Italian boy who dreams almost as often as he speaks, acting on impulse no matter who his critics are, often reciting lines from comic books while he ponders consequences of decisions before ultimately making them. In the Italian countryside, of course, there's only so much trouble you can get into, but when Michele wanders out of the lush wheat fields he considers a personal playground and onto a seemingly-abandoned lot, he finds himself at a position that no kid of his age should have ever had to face. The consequences of his curiosity might have been any normal child's undoing, but here they become the platform for which Michele can rise above his standard and live the stories of heroics he reads daily in his comics.