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The Rat who is made of Stainless Steel

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Film Reviews: The Iceman (2012), The Beaver (2011), and Now You See Me (2013)
The Iceman (2012). Based on the biography by Anthony Bruno and directed Ariel Vromen. The film is initially set in 1964 New Jersey. A man (Michael Shannon), Richard Kuklinski, is on a date with a woman (Winona Ryder). Some hours later he's playing pool with friends and someone there casts aspersions about the woman he was having a date with. Some hours having left the pool hall the man is sat in his car outside when Kuklinski approaches. There's a brief fight and Kuklinski cuts his throat. The Iceman is an inevitably grim and alleged true tale about Kuklinkski, who becomes a hitman for various criminal gangs. Although it's all done reasonably well I just felt little connection or sympathy with the characters. Recommended for those who aren't very fussy about their crime thrillers. 3/5 (Average)

The Beaver (2011). Written by Kyle Killen and directed by Jodie Foster. The film opens with Walter Black (Mel Gibson) suffering severe depression. Due to the depression Black's toy company is on the verge of bankruptcy. Black's son hates his father, and is keeping a list of similarities and differences between them. Eventually Black's wife (Jodie Foster) throws him out and he ends up drunk at a hotel. After unsuccessfully trying to hang himself in the shower he puts an old toy puppet beaver on his hand, as he climbs onto the balcony to throw himself off. He's about to jump when the beaver puppet talks to him, and he falls back into the room with shock. The Beaver has some good points, in that it does a rare thing in film and tackles depression fairly head-on. Gibson gives a great and emotive performance as the central character in the film, bearing in mind a lot of it's spent talking with an Australian accent via a puppet. There's a subplot involving his son and a girl he likes (Jennifer Lawrence), which could be argued is a distraction, but I think it was necessary as a counterpoint to the main story. A little like The Iceman though I just didn't feel very engaged with the characters, so ultimately a good film, just not a great one for me. For those who don't mind the unusual mix of drama and comedy. 4/5 (Good)

Now You See Me (2013). Written by Boaz Yakin and Edward Ricourt and directed by Louis Leterrier. The film opens with a monologue to camera by street magician Danny Atlas (Jesse Eisenberg). He discusses the concept of illusion, then it switches to him performing a card trick on the street. Now You See Me is certainly a stylish film, with a very strident soundtrack. The story twists and turns all over the place, and there's a reasonable cast including the aforementioned Eisenberg, Mark Ruffalo, Woody Harrelson, Morgan Freeman, and Michael Caine, albeit the latter two aren't breaking much of an acting sweat. But amid all the twists and turns there's little chance for character development and I found myself not caring much for the characters or story. Ultimately for me this was no The Illusionist or The Prestige, but it was just about fun. Recommended for those who love stylish films that are light on the rest. 3/5 (Average)