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PCR #394 (Vol. 8, No. 41) This edition is for the week of October 8--14, 2007.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"Eastern Promises"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"Eastern Promises"  by Mike Smith
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Halloween Brew: A Potpourri of Halloween Recommendations, Pt. 1--Books and Music  by Terence Nuzum
Book Review: The Birthday Party by Panos Karnezis  by Lisa Ciurro
Forgotten Horrors: Blood of Dracula's Castle  by ED Tucker
Mom .... Movie Notes .... Don't Tell Terence .... .... .... .... .... .... Whatever Happened To--? Chapter 30: John Rhys - Davies  by Mike Smith
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Starring: Viggo Mortensen, Naomi Watts, Vincent Cassel and Armin Mueller-Stahl
Directed by: David Cronnenberg
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hr 40 min

In the Russian-speaking section of London a young girl wanders into the local pharmacy, asking strangers for help. Suddenly she collapses. The girl is pregnant and her baby is ready to be delivered. Despite the efforts of doctors, the girl dies but her baby daughter survives. Anna (Watts), the attending mid-wife, stumbles onto the girls’ diary. As the book is written in Russian, Anna takes it home to have her Uncle Stepan, a former Russian spy agency member, translate it in an attempt to find the young girls’ family and give the baby a proper home. However, as the saying goes, things aren’t always what they appear to be.

An adult thriller with plenty of thrills, “Eastern Promises” is the second collaboration between director Cronnenberg and star Viggo Mortensen following 2005’s “A History of Violence.” As a small town father who must revert to the past he tried to forget, I declared Mortensen a sure Oscar nominee for “Violence.” Yes, I was wrong, but I’m not ashamed to make the claim again. In his portrayal of Nikolai, the chauffeur for the local Russian mob head’s son, Mortensen once again uses everything he possesses to make himself a part of the story. His lean body covered in tattoos, each one telling a story, Mortensen is nothing short of amazing here. As the mid-wife mourning her own recent loss, Watts brings a sense of mourning to every scene she’s in. She’s sad and she wants us to know it. Cassel is fine as the big man’s son, a less intense version of the character Daniel Craig played in “Road to Perdition.” However, the big prize must go to Armin Mueller-Stahl as gang leader Semyon. Alternating from sweet and grandfatherly to cold and calculating, Stahl oozes the necessary evil charms he needs to attend to his families’ business.

Like many of Cronnenberg’s films, “Eastern Promises” is not without some rather intense scenes. The blood flows freely during executions and a scene featuring a totally naked Mortensen battling two assassins in a steam bath is sure to be one of the most talked about scenes in film this year.

With Oscar season almost upon us, “Eastern Promises” fires the first shot in the race for the golden boy. On a scale of zero to four stars I give “Eastern Promises”

This week's movie review of "Eastern Promises" is ©2007 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2007, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2007 by Nolan B. Canova.