In Lord of War Nicolas Cage stars as Yuri Orlov, a charming guy who rises to the top of his field in the death-dealing world of gunrunning. Defending his profession he notes that his wares kill fewer people than cigarettes and alcohol, and that he’s never sold anything to Osama Bin Laden because “he was always bouncing cheques.” The lighter moments, however, are tempered with scenes that aggressively show that damage guns do. One particularly effective montage follows a bullet from the manufacturing phase straight through to the gun which shoots it at a young man’s head.
The film received middling reviews when it came out theatrically—it gets a 58% fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes—but actually plays much better on DVD. Mixing the dark humor of Catch 22—The first and most important rule of gun running is: Never get shot with your own merchandise—with Cage’s anti-hero gives this the feel of an HBO movie of the week. Lord of War is dramatically flawed, but thought provoking and inventive enough to be worth a rental.
Last Holiday: Weirdly paced story about a woman who is diagnosed with a deadly disease and given only three weeks to live. She decides to make the most of the short time she has left and goes to a $4000 a night European hotel to see a side of life that she had only ever dreamed about. Once there she hob knobs with the rich and powerful–including the morally corrupt owner of the department store she used to work for–who think she is a wealthy socialite. The film is meant to be a life affirming fantasy, and on that level it succeeds, but mostly because Queen Latifah is so charming and so watchable on screen. If you took her out of the equation Last Holiday would be more like a vacation from hell.