My Week in Movies: December 3, '11

Oren Moverman, 2011
How are we seen by our peers - from subordinates to our closest, most important companions and dependents, even - despite our defining efforts to be revered as benevolent? Could these peers be hip to our schtick, simply allowing us to continue fooling only ourselves for the sake of maintaining some semblance of peace? "Rampart", its title implying a general look in to city cop mentalities of the 1990s, follows the gradual downward spiral of Woody Harrelson's intimately portrayed renegade, "Date Rape Dave". We enter his headspace, cautious yet eager to latch on to quirks and sentiments. Ever so steadily this headspace is contorted by circumstance - much of it preexisting yet finally coming to a head - and for 90+ minutes we live amongst its machinations, residents of the causes and effects of reputation-threatening scandal. The filmmaking is organic to its subject - I could not imagine "Rampart", which handily joins (and probably surpasses) the ranks of "Bad Lieutenant" (and, in a practically alternate sense, "Serpico"), being filmed in a more fitting manner. Speaking genuinely between the lines, the film is Dave, and can become frequently emotionally wrecking sans just about any form of contrived heartstring tugging. By extension Harrelson feels authentic as can be as he disappears in to Dave, surrounded by an impressive collection of talent allowed to exist naturally within their cinematic space including Robin Wright, Cynthia Nixon, Anne Heche and, in a highly impressive turn as an invalid derelict, film co-producer (and probable John McLane, Jr.) Ben Foster.

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