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Now in our eleventh calendar year!
PCR #546 (Vol. 11, No. 37). This edition is for the week of September 6--12, 2010.

This Week's PCR
Movie Review
"The American"

Movie review by:
Michael A. Smith

Movies are rated 0 to 4 stars

theater seats

"The American"  by Mike Smith
Miami Memories: Part One of Two  by William Moriaty
Nearly Almost Famous  by ED Tucker
DVD Review: Strip Club King:The Story of Joe Redner  by Lisa Scherer
Nothing on the Horizon  by Jason Fetters
I'd Like To Thank The Academy .... Burn Baby Burn! .... .... .... .... .... .... .... Mike's Record Shelf  by Mike Smith

Focus Features     
Starring: George Clooney, Paolo Bonacelli and Violante Placido
Directed by: Anton Corbijn
Rated: R
Running Time: 1 hour 45 mins

I have often compared George Clooney to Warren Beatty. Not just because they are handsome men with great voices, but because they are so damn talented, both in front of and behind the camera. What they also have in common is that they have a really bad movie on their resume’. And ironically they both revolve around Italy. For Beatty it’s “The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone (Beatty’s Italian accent is about as believable as Kevin Costner’s English accent in “Robin Hood”). For Clooney, it’s “The American.”

As the film begins we find our hero, Jack (Clooney) taking in the sights with a beautiful woman while strolling through the snow. Coming across a set of foot prints the lady asks “don’t hunters usually travel in pairs?” No sooner than you can say “look out!” shots are fired. Jack escapes the ambush, heading to Italy where he confirms with a mystery phone voice that “the Swedes almost got him.” Those sneaky Swedes!

A movie that seems to have been made only because George Clooney has a villa in Italy and wanted to work close to home, “The American” is NOTHING like it’s advertised to be. Basically it’s scene after scene of Clooney walking around Italy. Occasionally he’s driving around Italy. And if he’s not doing either of those things he’s spending time with a local prostitute (Placido) who’s really just looking for love. Which brings me to a question…GEORGE CLOONEY HAS TO GO TO A PROSTITUTE? I mean, the man was Batman for God’s sake! Sadly the film is full of other plot holes, chief among them WHO are the Swedes and why are they trying to kill Jack? Other holes include: Who does he work for? What does he do? Where is he from? Oh, wait, that’s right. The movie is called “The American,” which explains why everyone in the little town he’s hiding out in keeps saying, “Ah, you are the American” when they see him.

Before you dismiss this film (and believe me, I suggest you do), there are a few good points to note. Even in crap, Clooney usually gives a good performance and he does that here. Sadly it’s wasted in a film with no coherent story structure. Another acting highlight is Paolo Bonacelli, who plays the town priest. With his shock of white hair and sad, bloodhound face, Bonacelli embodies his character in both look and words. He encourages Jack to talk to God about his sins and when Jack replies “God’s not interested in me” the disappointment he feels is visible on his face. The story line between Jack and the father is the most developed one in the film and one can only wish there were more scenes between the two. The other positive note is that the film is visually beautiful. Director Corbijn is a veteran photographer/music video director whose only other feature film was “Control,” the story of Joy Division lead singer Ian Curtis. Though he really needs to work on how to tell a story, Corbijns’ shot selection is excellent, making each scene in the film look like a little postcard from Italy. Ciao!

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

To comment on this or any other PCR article, please visit The Message Board. This week's movie review of "The American" is ©2010 by Michael A. Smith.  All graphics this page are creations of Nolan B. Canova, ©2010, all rights reserved. All contents of "Nolan's Pop Culture Review" are ©2010 by Nolan B. Canova.