Trance

[3.5 stars] [IMDb Link] [Amazon Link]

Well over four years ago, Pun Salad opined: "I'm not a violent person, but there's something about James McAvoy that makes me want to give him a good slap." Guess what? McAvoy gets slapped around, and much worse, in this movie. It's almost a feelgood romp for me.

In Trance, McAvoy plays art auctioneer Simon. His company is auctioning off Goya's Witches in the Air (which is an actual famous painting), when a well-planned heist springs into operation. Simon attempts to execute the standard plan: grab the most valuable thing being auctioned (the Goya in this case), and get it to a chute which will whoosh it into a secure time-locked safe. But the head crook (Vincent Cassel), confronts Simon before that happens.

But then … something happens. It's not clear what. But nobody knows the fate of the painting. The bad guys don't have it. The good guys don't either. Simon has suffered a serious head injury (yay!), and he doesn't remember what he did.

Soon, Simon (after more physical abuse) is off to beautiful Elizabeth, a hypnotherapist, in hopes that her hypnoskills will allow the painting to be located. What happens instead: a twisty web of betrayal, violence, sex, and unexpected revelations.

Oh yeah, the MPAA says: "sexual content, graphic nudity, violence, some grisly images, and language." If you can stand that, it's a very competently directed (Danny Boyle) crime thriller.

V is for Vengeance

[Amazon Link]

Well, at last I've caught up with Sue Grafton's alphabet-based Kinsey Millhone novels, now that I've read V is For Vengeance! …

Oh, wait a minute. Make that almost caught up.

Anyway: this book has a short prologue where a cocky, albeit stupid, young man goes to a loan shark to finance a Vegas gambling trip. Things do not work out well for him, and he gets tossed off the roof of a parking garage.

Fast forward to "today" (Where "today" is 1988.) Kinsey's in a department store and notices something the store cops don't: two women are busy shoplifting expensive stuff. She alerts security. One woman is apprehended, the other escapes, but not before nearly running over Kinsey in her Mercedes.

Normally, that would finish things for Kinsey. But once the captured shoplifter makes bail, she is found deceased, having apparently jumped from a tall bridge. Or was she, like the doofus in the prologue, tossed off? I know which way I'd bet. Her ex-boyfriend hires Kinsey to investigate. Soon she's up against the loan shark and a hostile cop.

Kind of a below-average outing, the characters Kinsey meets aren't very sympathetic or interesting, but that's OK.