Stockholm the movie & Aha’s Take on Me

Ethan Hawke and Robert Budreau must have formed a synchronicity working together in the heart breaking biopic Born to be Blue considering the dynamic duo are back again in Stockholm the movie (Ethan starring of course and Budreau writing and directing).

Being a card carrying Ethan Hawke fan from his pinch his cute cheeks in Dead Poets Society to his twitchy f-up of a brother in Before the Devil Knows Your Dead, to his nightly strangulation in Sam Shepard’s play True West on Broadway, I also thought Stockholm was well executed.

Here’s the deal with Ethan: you know he’s acting and yet you believe it anyway. He’s in that upper echelon of Ed Norton and Sam Rockwell, equally recognizable, yet so lovable and masters of their craft that you go with it, happy for every ride.

In Stockholm, named for the incident that describes the phenomena of a hostage falling for her (or his) captor, Hawke is the predator and Noomi Rapace is prey. Noomi is probably best know for the foreign version of the Dragon Tattoo movies and may be set for super stardom with an upcoming Maria Callas biopic. Also standing out are Mark Strong as Ethan’s robber com padre accomplice and Christopher Heyerdahl as the chief of police who lets ‘winning’ corrupt his humanity.

The second best part of Stockholm besides Ethan and Noomi’s hot chemistry, was the humorous touches in the script. Noomi’s disappointment while being held hostage that her husband chose to serve meatloaf instead of the more creative fish dish, Ethan’s character’s insistence to have Dylan music as a back drop to the robbery, and many other subtle nuances prove that Budreau likes a sprinkle of comedy with the absurdity of our lives.

And the very best part of Stockholm is Hawke’s throwing himself into every role, similar to the Aha band’s video of “Take on Me”, where the animated character hits the wall until he becomes human. Hawke does that to writing (the wall) until we believe his human (acting) form.

This comedic spice alone might be worth inserting in every movie hereafter, since, if we can’t laugh at ourselves, where are we going?

The Drop

The Drop is directed by Michael R. Roskam, who wrote and directed the Academy Award Foreign Film Nominated Bullhead, which I’ll seek out now that I’ve seen the understated beauty of The Drop, viewed at the always-smells-like-a-swampy locker room Pittsford Cinema near Rochester, New York.

The Drop is another in the litter of a new genre I’m naming “films starring dead people” with James Gandolfini and the very much alive Tom Hardy. Gandolfini, despite what I heard Marshall fine say, is simply playing Tony Soprano on the skids. Tom Hardy, a new actor on my radar, does a brilliant job at understatement or portraying the understatement written by Dennis Lehane. Hardy’s Bob is a coat buttoned up surprise, and only at the movie’s end do you realize the performance’s brilliance.

Noomi Rapace’s Nadia, Bob’s would be romance interest, is also very believable as a blue collar city cynic.
And while any animal rescue person will salivate without bells at the cute pitbull Rocco, I found the movie lacking for the average girl, and this from a woman who loved and saw Drive (you know, the movie Albert Brooks got ripped off from an Oscar nom from). In other words, I don’t neemd a rom-com to make me happy, but give the romance a little more heat and the conflict between Bob and a rapacious ex-boyfirend character Eric played sinisterly by Rust and Bones’ Matthias Schoenaerts would have been more palpable.

Instead, the movie simmers too long and I almost left a little depressed, as if Tom Hardy’s Bob was the guy you didn’t appreciate until he was gone.