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PCR #495 (Vol. 10, No. 38). This edition is for the week of September 14--20, 2009.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The Informant!"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

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"The Informant!"  by Mike Smith
The Fabulous Thunderbird  by ED Tucker
Jackie Chan Retrospective  by Jason Fetters
Joe Wilson The Hero .... Blame It On Racism .... .... Renewed Strength .... .... .... ....  by Brandon Jones
Slow Down! .... Patrick Swayze .... Larry Gelbart .... This Just In .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2...  by Mike Smith
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Warner Brothers     
Starring: Matt Damon, Scott Bakula and Tom Wilson
Directed by: Steven Soderbergh
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 48 mins

Though I know it sounds hard to comprehend, in my mind Steven Soderbergh has turned into this generations Clint Eastwood. Not with a raspy voice or a glinty eye, but with his choice of films. For many years Eastwood had a deal with the good folks at Warner Brothers. Direct something sure to make money, preferably a movie with “Dirty Harry” in the title, and the studio would fund something more personal. This is how such films as “Bird,” “White Hunter, Black Heart” and even the Oscar winning “Unforgiven” came to be. Not sure if Soderbergh has the same deal, but he has given Warner Brothers such money makers as the “Ocean” films (11, 12 and 13). In return he made “The Good German” and a little comedy with a lot going for it, “The Informant.”

Mark Whitacre (Damon) is a vice president at food manufacturing giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). After the company reports an attempted sabotage of one of their new food chemicals, Mark is interviewed by the FBI. There, in what appears to be a long necessary bout of soul searching, Mark convinces to the agents in charge (Bakula and “The Soup” host Joel McHale) that the company is actively involved in international price fixing with other similar companies. Pleased by Mark’s cooperation, the Feds arm him with hidden tape recorders and cameras. But Mark has a secret…one that leads to hilarious consequences.

With the exception of popping up in the occasional Kevin Smith film, or starring as the title partner in Sarah Silverman’s video short, the word funny doesn’t usually come to mind when you think about Matt Damon. But thanks to a witty script by Scott Burns (who also penned Damon’s last “Bourne” adventure) he is given a fully conceived character to work with and he runs with him. The performance easily ranks as one of Damon’s best. He is surrounded by a strong supporting cast, including Bakula in a rare big screen appearance. Can the “Quantum Leap” movie be far behind? Also good to see Tom Wilson, best known as Biff in the “Back to the Future” films, is working again. He does a fine job as ADM’s vice president of corporate security. And any film that manages to feature both Tom AND Dick Smothers certainly gets my vote.

The direction is smooth and the film flows seamlessly through the many years involved in telling the story. The story is kept moving by Damon’s very funny narration, which consists mostly of little factoids about wool, butterflies or the German word for ink pen
(for the curious, it’s Kugelschreiber). Technically, the film is well put together. The photography, by Soderbergh under his “Peter Andrews” pseudonym helps set the tone of the film while Marvin Hamlisch’s score, surprisingly his first in more than a decade, provides a perfect background.

On a scale of zero to four I give “The Informant”


This week's movie review of "The Informant!" is ©2009 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2009, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.