Ben Affleck‘s first time behind the camera as a director comes in this adaptation of a novel by Dennis Lehane in a screenplay he also wrote brings with it immense critical praise which is well-deserved. Casey Affleck plays Patrick Kenzie, a private detective familiar with the streets and neighborhoods of Boston, living with his girlfriend and partner Angie Gennaro (Michelle Monaghan).
In Layer Cake, which is based upon a British novel of the same name, we get a rare peak into the British criminal underground through the eyes of a very successful cocaine trafficker who is never named, but is played by Daniel Craig. He is well-educated, smart, respectful, and not greedy. Having accumulated enough of a modest fortune for himself to live pleasurably he plans to leave the business while he is still ahead, but that all changes when his supplier Jimmy Price (Kenneth Cranham) assigns him two very difficult tasks before he will be allowed to leave: find the whereabouts of a young woman named Charlie, the daughter of a powerful associate name Eddie Temple (Michael Gambon) and find a buyer for a massive amount of ecstasy pills which have recently been stolen in Amsterdam.
Christian Bale’s performance as Travor Reznik in The Machinist may rank as one of his best ever. He plays an industrial machinist plagued by chronic insomnia and a mysterious weight-loss that is bringing him down to levels that make him appear like someone from Ethiopia during its infamous famine. He is, essentially, dying of insomnia and his work as a lathe operator begins to suffer because of it. He claims to his friend/lover/prostitute Stevie (Jennifer Jason Leigh) that he hasn’t slept in a year.
The Kingdom is a 2007 blockbuster that accomplishes something many mainstream Hollywood movies attempt and fail: it creates a realistic thriller based on realistic events and portrays both sides of the conflict in reasonably equal lights. Director Peter Berg tells us the story of a team of FBI agents who push their way into the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in an effort to investigate a terrorist attack in which Americans were killed.