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The Films of Mimi Leder

Nightingales

A Little Piece of Heaven

Woman with a Past

Marked for Murder

There Was a Little Boy

Rio Shannon

House of Secrets

Baby Brokers

The Innocent

The Peacemaker

Deep Impact (March 19/15)

Directed by Mimi Leder, Deep Impact details the relative chaos that ensues after it's revealed that an enormous comet is going to collide with our planet. Filmmaker Leder does a typically solid job of immediately luring the viewer into the decidedly epic proceedings, with the movie benefiting substantially from both its irresistible premise and surfeit of captivating performances. (The impressive cast includes, among others, Morgan Freeman, Téa Leoni, Elijah Wood, and Robert Duvall.) And while the narrative is chock-a-block with many of the conventions and tropes one associates with stories of this ilk, Leder nevertheless manages to effectively transform Deep Impact into a consistently engrossing piece of work - with the film's better-than-average atmosphere perpetuated by the ongoing inclusion of unexpectedly tense sequences. Bruce Joel Rubin and Michael Tolkin's screenplay admittedly does push the melodrama to its breaking point, and yet it's difficult to deny that certain late-in-the-game moments pack an unexpectedly emotional punch. Deep Impact was the second asteroid-hits-the-earth movie released in 1998, following Michael Bay's typically overblown and oddly tedious Armageddon, and it's clear that the movie is not only the better picture of the two but also a modern classic within the disaster-film genre.

out of

Pay It Forward

The Code (May 5/09)

The Code casts Morgan Freeman as Keith Ripley, an aging thief who teams up with a hotshot criminal (Antonio Banderas' Gabriel Martin) to pull off the most lucrative job of his career - though the pair ultimately find themselves confronted with a whole host of obstacles, with Martin's fledgling relationship with Ripley's goddaughter (Radha Mitchell's Alexandra Korolenko) inevitably causing friction between the two men. The Code marks the latest in an increasingly long line of middling thrillers starring Freeman, as the actor – in addition to his work within genuinely stirring efforts like 2007’s Gone Baby Gone and 2008’s The Dark Knight – has recently appeared in such utterly forgettable titles as 2005’s Edison and 2006’s The Contract. And while The Code may not be quite as relentlessly mediocre as either of those films – it takes real talent to transform a heist flick into a flat-out unwatchable piece of work – the movie is nevertheless unable to hold the viewer’s interest with any degree of consistency. The inclusion of several less-than-enthralling subplots – especially Martin’s on-again-off-again relationship with Mitchell’s character – proves effective at dampening the strength of The Code’s few overtly positive attributes, while the impossibly convoluted third act ensures that the movie ends on as underwhelming a note as one could possibly envision. Despite its myriad of questionable elements, however, The Code is undoubtedly worth a look for the impressive heist sequence that arrives at its mid-point. Director Mimi Leder does a fantastic job of transforming what could have been a run-of-the-mill interlude into an admittedly engrossing (and surprisingly suspenseful) 20-minute stretch of film, with its effectiveness ultimately ensuring that virtually everything that comes after it can’t help but come off as anti-climactic. The end result is a hopelessly uneven endeavor that's consistently buoyed by Freeman's mere presence, yet there's little doubt that the actor deserves so, so much better than this.

out of

© David Nusair