The Movie Waffler New Release Review - Rampart | The Movie Waffler

New Release Review - Rampart

Directed by: Oren Moverman
Starring: Woody Harrelson, Ben Foster, Sigourney Weaver, Steve Buscemi, Ned Beatty, Ice Cube, Anne Heche, Cynthia Nixon, Robin Wright

Considering the impressive cast and a James Ellroy penned screenplay, this movie seems to have disappeared under the radar. There's a reason for this, it's simply not very good.
Harrelson plays the latest in his growing repertoire of badass characters, a corrupt cop in late nineties Los Angeles. He's very good but it's a cliched character at this point, we've already seen Gere, Keitel and even Cage play this exact role. Surely Ellroy can bring something new to the table? Frankly no, this is a poor piece of writing, a million miles away from "LA Confidential". Harrelson has more success with the ladies than James Bond, he lives in a strange commune type arrangement with his wife and ex-wife who happen to be sisters, and Robin Wright plays a lawyer who finds him inexplicably irresistible. The supporting characters are one-dimensional stereotypes, the rebellious daughter, the estranged wife (and ex-wife), and an assortment of corrupt cops and politicians.
The crux of the plot revolves around Harrelson being caught on camera beating up a motorist who rammed his patrol car. It seems someone had a camera in the right place at the right time, something which director Moverman seems to struggle with. He insists on employing the sort of pretentious and intrusive camerawork that plagued the films of Paul Thomas Anderson before his "There Will Be Blood" epiphany. One scene in particular, a simple dialogue exchange in Buscemi's mayor's office, is shot with such a bizarrely over the top use of camera movement that you're instantly thrown out of the scene. I've spoken before about my hatred of desaturation and it rears it's ugly head again here. Seriously what is the problem with shooting a film well? The Paris Hilton sex tape had better cinematography than most recent American movies. Personally speaking, I can only recall one use of desaturation that worked, Kevin Reynolds' "187" where it was employed to provide a stark visual contrast between the cities of New York and Los Angeles. But Reynolds is a proper director, he doesn't use techniques for the sake of it, everything he does has a point behind it. Moverman and his contemporaries aren't so considerate.