Stone Reviews

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Super Reviewer
November 29, 2010
This has to be one of the more, I think, underrated films of the past couple of years.

The film is a prison drama centered around a parole officer nearing retirement who gets locked into a psychological duel with a convicted arsonist and the man's alluring wife-both of whom will do what it takes to convince the officer to help make early release possible.

The film is all about control, manipulation, psychological games, and the motifs of religious belief, guilt, and temptation. Much of it is quite well done, but the rest is a little iffy, and could have been handled better, particularly how the narrative is executed.

I do like the performances though, because those are definitely the highlight. Robert De Niro and Edward Norton reteam for the first time since The Score, and they are very impressive to watch, mostly because they are both acting somewhat against type. The really impressive person here though, is Milla Jovovich. She gives a very compelling and convincing performance without ever getting to over the top. It's a real treat to see her in action.

Give this one a chance. It's flawed, but decent and compelling enough to warrant a viewing.
Super Reviewer
½ December 22, 2010
Yet again Norton out-acts De Niro in a film where the acting is more superior than the story line. It does have it's moments, but also toward the end, it does drag and there is hope for excitement which does not deliver, it's a straight forward story with no hidden surprises, but enjoyable performances.
Super Reviewer
½ November 2, 2011
A film that just didn't go anywhere or do anything for me. Sad to see Robert De Niro star in such a terrible film. Glad I didn't pay movie ticket prices. Left a lot to be desired. 2 1/2 stars.
Super Reviewer
½ September 26, 2011
It was a good movie. The main 3 characters does a good job...And it's a little interesting...but not much. It was...I don't know...It was good but nothing more.
Super Reviewer
½ August 1, 2011
Stone shows DiNiro and Edward Norton at their finest; a psychological character study that asks big questions, held within a tight script wrapped around what may or may not be a case of manipulation.

The direction of ... is spot on, using the full palate of sight and especially sound to convey an underlining sense of mysticism. We are introduced to DiNiro as a parole officer, working at a state prison where one of his final cases before retirement is to rule on Norton, who has put in 10 years for being a party to an arson murder. Norton is all angles, both inside and out, a compelling performance full of street jive, yet still a soul searching for that elusive "something". In his interviews with DiNiro he flips from anger to an earnest attempt to connect with another human being, while DiNiro, appearing world weary, at first doesn't want anything more than to disperse his judgment. But as their conversations move into the realm of religion and the soul, DiNiro begins to actually listen. Whether or not this is a overt manipulation by Norton is for you to decide, and I'm not going to ruin things by ruminating on the repercussions of taking that step back and questioning all you are and all you've done in life.

I mentioned how sound plays an important part. There is a mystical bent to it, but the film does a wonderful job of overlaying Jesus radio while DiNiro is driving to and from the prison, and even more inspiring is the way in which near silence is juxtaposed with the constant clamor of the prison yard and cafeteria. Norton has gotten a hold of some offbeat religious pamphlet that says that the way to enlightenment is by being able to shut out all extemporaneous noise so you can hear the distant buzz of god's voice. Try doing that amidst the babble of the prison yard. The film runs back on itself in so many nice ways - from the opening scene where a fly is buzzing against a window screen, to the last shot where DiNiro, haven been taken on a journey he was unprepared to take, exits his office for the last time and hears a fly.

There is another wonderful scene where an inmate gets shanked and Norton witnesses the man's death. He looks into the inmate's eyes and watches the life leave - the film then shows Norton's eyes, full of dread, but also curiosity and life - to be followed by a close up of DiNiro ruling his roost at home - eyes dead.

There are two women in the film, Frances Conroy as DiNiro's long suffering and repressed wife - conveying her torment while saying very little - and Milla Javovich as the force of nature who is married to Norton. Both give fabulous and finely nuanced performances, as do the male leads.

I compare this to the French film I recently viewed, Inspector Bellamy - both character studies, but a million miles apart in depth.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2011
Stone: They say, when you experience a spiritual truth, that it comes to you as a sound that goes through you, changes your vibration, gets you back in the harmony. Like God's tuning fork or something... And then, if you let that happen to you, then you get the light, you get an illumination. 

"Some people tell lies. Some people live them."

Thank God this movie had two of my favorite actors of all-time in it because without them I may have never watched this movie. And that would have been a real shame. From the reviews here, I thought I was getting myself into a terrible movie. However, I wad just getting myself into an overlooked and misunderstood film. This movie is about the way we view living a good life, religion, morals and about anything else that you would consider "deep."

Now, everyone seems to be saying the exact same thing, "Norton and De Niro were good, but they weren't good enough to hold up a movie with no point." What's the point of this movie? Are you fucking kidding me? What was the point of Inception(loved Inception and in no way am I making fun of the movie at all, I'm just making a point)? To fuck with our minds and to entertain us. Other then that, Inception had no point. Now, with movies like Inception, I'm fine with that. Now, the point of Stone.

Stone wasn't made to merely entertain(although I was entertained, but I seem to be in the minority on that too). It looks at the way we view people's lives. We look at someone who is highly respected like De Niro's character and we instantly think that's a good person. We look at what are defined as the bad people like Norton's character and we instantly think that's a bad person. Stone has something to say about that. People aren't always what they appear. In the end, people change. People succumb to temptations. People break laws. Who are we to say who is good and bad? Maybe only "God" or whatever is looking over everything, knows who is actually good or bad. Now, I'm not saying I believe everything this movie is saying, but I can't say I don't believe anything it's saying.  It's an interesting movie, that most people will never give a chance because of what other people are saying about it. It may not be the most coherent or entertaining movie around, but people like fucking David Lynch's movies. The guy who just throughs bizarre scene after bizarre scene together. We call it deep, but how the he'll do we know? He could just be fucking with everyone, "I'm just going to throw a lesbian scene in here, a scene that means absolutely nothing in here and people will call it a masterpiece." But my opinion of David Lynch movies are probably better suited for another review.

I know no one is reading this because they see I gave the film 4 stars. It's got a 20% like rating and this guy gave it 4 stars? He must be high or something. But anyway if you are still reading this review, Thank You. All I'm saying is give the movie a chance. Don't let people who may not have looked deep enough into the movie effect your views on it without watching. You may hate it, you may love it. I loved it and I will defend this movie forever. 
Super Reviewer
July 23, 2011
As usual Norton and de Niro perform a very good acting. There is something in the story that keep you waiting for one of those very good twists, that unfortunately never arrives. If you have nothing else to do, go for it.
Super Reviewer
½ June 3, 2011
Stone is a lot better than people give it credit for, but I do see why people have such a hard time enjoying it. When you mix existentialism with a prison plot, it just doesn't make all that much sense and comes off as bizarre. Also, when you have your protagonist act like an antagonist the whole time, it causes further viewer distancing. That being said, the performances are so good from Edward Norton and a slightly psychotic Millla Jovovich that you can easily forget the storytelling flaws. Edward Norton's utter devotion to his larger than life character is so much fun to watch and definitely worth the entire movie. Robert De Niro doesn't really do anything amazing, but that was basically the point of the character he plays. Overall, Stone is a performance piece and should be seen as such.
Super Reviewer
March 27, 2011
Boy. This movie felt a little close to home. Super depressing.
Super Reviewer
February 15, 2011
You see the names Di Niro and Norton and you assume, great movie! Well I do,and I assumed wrong. This movie moves very slow,and the story is weak. The premise is good,but the execution makes for a mess of a movie. You want to see these 2 great actors in a movie together,watch" the Score." That's a movie worth their talents.
Super Reviewer
July 31, 2010
Great acting cannot even save this train-wreck of a movie! I have no idea what the point or purpose of a movie like this is! I hope others get something from it I missed.
Super Reviewer
½ October 5, 2010
Okay, don't get me wrong, Stone is a very powerful film, but the repetitive therapy sessions between De Niro and Norton were strong at first and then sort of fell to the wayside of the story as it focussed more on the supporting roles. This film definitely could have been delivered better, but for what it is, it is still a very satisfying film. Edward Norton's performance literally makes you believe that he has a psychological problem, but never really kicks in until the end. With a plain story made into a complex plot, Stone is good at best!
Super Reviewer
October 16, 2010
This film has a brilliant cast consisting of Edward Norton, Robert De Nro and Milla Jovovich, but the storyline is a bit of a mess. Sure the acting is first rate with Norton's fine character portrayal of an imprisoned arsonist named Stone followed nicely with his conniving, adulterous wife Lucetta(Milla Jovovich) and his parole officer Jack(Robert De Niro) who is basically just as questionable as those he sees in his job.
That being said, there is some interesting material here that doesn't quite commit to the film's hour and forty-five minute length. However, if you like these actors, there are some fine scenes here that I wish had been executed in better fashion. So basically, you've got to pull what's good out of somewhat of a mess and see what you can make of it.
Super Reviewer
½ January 18, 2011
Dull slow depressing
Super Reviewer
½ November 6, 2010
It's a real shame that the great Robert DeNiro is starting to show his age, as their are very few roles out there that seem to suit him anymore. That's not to say that he's not good in this. He is, but I couldn't help wondering what he could have done with Edward Norton's role when he was in his prime.
DeNiro plays Jack Mabry, a parole officer in a state prison who is handed the case of Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton), a prisoner who has served 8years for arson and the death of his grandparents. With the decision now left with Mabry as to whether he is for suitable release, Creeson convinces his wife (Milla Jovovich), on the outside, to seduce and manipulate the parole officer and hopefully aide his freedom.
It's a pleasure to watch two of the finest actors of their generation put in great performances. However, the material they have at their disposal, sadly, isn't up to standard. It starts very promising, shapes up to a fine menage a trois thriller midway, then suddenly goes flat and never really recovers. It tries, but once it decends into spirituality it loses itself. The two leads make the most of it and it's excellent to see them sparring again after "The Score" - their first collaboration in 2001- which, for that matter, was also disappointing.
It has it's moments but ultimately it's a wasted opportunity, with two masterful actors who are the only ones keeping this from sinking like a 'stone'.
Super Reviewer
½ December 4, 2010
It's really a crappy movie, scenes were not properly portrayed, editing was horrible, the story it's just awful and the acting was just very poor, I feel sorry for Robert DeNiro who is the best actor overall in this movie.

Parole officer Jack Mabry (Robert De Niro) has only a few weeks left before retirement and wishes to finish out the cases he's been assigned. One such case is that of Gerald "Stone" Creeson (Edward Norton), a convicted arsonist who is up for parole. Jack is initially reluctant to indulge Stone in the coarse banter he wishes to pursue and feels little sympathy for the prisoner's pleads for an early release. Seeing little hope in convincing Jack himself, Stone arranges for his wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) to seduce the officer, but motives and intentions steadily blur amidst the passions and buried secrets of the corrupted players in this deadly game of deception.
Julian Left
Super Reviewer
½ November 17, 2010
"Another dull and uninspired De Niro movie... When's the loss streak gonna end?"

What is "Stone" about? It's about manipulation? Is it about deceiving? Is it about blackmailing? Is it about a guy who wants to get out from prison or it's about the bad things done in order to do good things? Obviously, John Curran, did not find out the best way possible to deliver the right answer nor he managed to balance the movie properly. We completely forget about the purpose because the movie drags too much around some characters that don't have a good chemistry nor a powerful or intelligent story to be connected with each other. The storytelling gets pretty messy at points, a lot of awkward moments and useless pieces of dialogue but most of all the "path" or pattern could be seen by the beginning. This movie lacks in consistency, balance and character development. It becomes dull and nothing really keeps you interested, sometimes you wish you could have seen it home so you could have the possibility of skipping a few minutes here and there.

The casting was not that great even if all main actors are known for their career or potential. De Niro, specifically was not meant for this role or this movie perhaps. His role was not that boring but not interesting and his character portrayal was to me a simple routine for him. No soul into it, no hard work just... acting routine. Milla Jovovich on the other hand was a perfect choice because she really fits the role of a gorgeous, easy and weird woman. She delivers that strange sexual behavior very good so choosing her for this role was a good option. Edward Norton, who we all know mainly from Fight Club and American History X, impersonated the desperate but meticulous convict pretty well. He added nothing outrageous to his character but he didn't had the courage or inspiration to make it appear more convincing.

Technically, another disappointment. The cinematography was not that good, the lens were too grey on moments and I really felt I was gonna fall asleep especially because of the editing. So many useless shots, so many silence moments, so many points where I was like sitting in my chair, looking in my left and my right, looking back to the screen and tried to remember what movie is that I'm watching right now. I felt really disappointed.

Overall, this movie lacks in about everything that is needed for a good movie to be made. It's not a great time at cinema
and I honestly don't recommend it unless you're a fan of dull movies. I guess for a rental it could be good but otherwise I cannot support this movie in any way. I am still counting the days till a good De Niro movie...

Storyline/Dialogue: 5,5/10.
Acting: 6,5/10.
Cinematography/Editing: 5,5/10.
Art Direction: 5/10.
Soundtrack/Score: 5/10.
Overall: 5,7
Super Reviewer
November 7, 2010
Edward Norton plays quite a character though, and I'm surprised to say that I think he deserves some Oscar attention. From the trailers, he character drove me nuts, but he's wonderful in the film. Other than that, this isn't anything spectacular. Another highlight of the film is the change in all the character's. It's entertaining but I can't come up with a reason to rate this any higher than I already have.
Super Reviewer
½ October 25, 2010
from the trailer, stone looks like a psychological game of criminal entrapments. actually it does feel a bit like 1990s "primal fear" with more undercurrent psychological twists since the law man ed norton's dealing with this time is much tougher robert de-niro, not the princely smug but insipidly gullible richard gere. also, the entrapment in stone is very blatant: a criminal wants to get out of prison and uses his wife to bribe his estimator with sex. but who says this movie is about the "who'dun'it" cliche? it's like the falsely timid shy boy from "primal fear" grows up into a even better and more skillful liar who "lies without lying"..or a really good liar who "lies with the truth"... the pleasure of it is its sophisticated mind-manipulations and a smirk at pretentious piety of christianity. just ask yourself one question: what makes a man step into a trap when he's aware it's a trap!? surprisingly, stone is actually about the theological quest of religious awe. but who'll be interested if the trailer tells you bluntly right in the beginning? because audience NEEDs to be fooled and prefers to be misled. isn't the pleasure of life about? to be deceived in a joyful way, mendacity is everywhere, from the cosmetic product, the perfume you buy or the viagra you consume at night in the bedroom (ha!)...just to bestow you an illusion of self-betterment so you could go on working and attending your job..okay, that's beside the point.

since everyone might already know the plot, and the ending could be easily predicted: the law-man does sleep with the wife, and the criminal does get his way, now i choose to render it from a more analytical level of motivation and its potential metaphor. as i said, stone is a movie about theological quest of religious awe. the seemingly christian law-binding man doesn't have faith and his obedience to the norm of life and his strict sense of formal integrity have more to do with personal rage, the rage from his discontentment with a proper and dignified but humdrum life of a puritan. what he exerts to suppress but emit in passive-aggressive way toward his wife. what distinguishes de-niro's screen personas in all those mighty classics he's involved for decades, in movies like taxi driver, raging bull and cape fear, would be the volcanic power in him with simmering outrage, don't you think the best moments in de-niro's career as a bona-fide actor happen in those extremely angry, antisocial or sociopathical roles? now he ages and expresses his dynamic rage in a more subdued and subtly trespassive way, i.e., the sociopath who wears the clean robe of a christian. stone really feels like the only movie de-niro cares enough to bother to give a decent performance in all those years since that silly "meet the fockers"!

edward norton starts off his career nicely as a great schemer in his impressive debuntante performance within "primal fear." this time, he evolves into a crass criminal who allows his grand-parents to get slaughtered by his fellow con-man in a robbery and even apathetically starts a fire to destory the corposes just because he feels like to torch them into ashes and when the bodies are enveloped and consumed by flames, he senses an awe from god. the twist of the movie would be: it begins with an intrigue of mental guerilla, then it takes a turn to tell you that's not the point. the twist would lie in the transformation of norton's character, who decides to pull off an experiment and avail himself into a process of spiritual enlightenment so he could live thru the suffocation of his jail term. then his enlightenment happens when he witnesses his fellow-jailmates get killed brutally as if death itself has an rinsing inspiration on people. in other words, norton gains his religious awe through vices then he apprehends things thru a fatalist light and they happen mysteriously for an unknown reason. (okay, i'm not trying to preach but just render the movie)....i suppose, the scriptor of stone does have a profound ambition to turn a pot-boiled movie project into some piece with revolutionary cartharsis of modernist literature. the point would be: would audience appreciate that twist and its attempted solemnity? i do. but how about you?

in a brief, the metaphor of the title "stone," which is ed norton character's nickname in the movie, but it has another occult meaning behind it because humans are transfromed from stone, according to some occult origin, and the only way to seek the spiritual emancipation you wish is to transform into the primitive form of your being: stone. and it's intentionally anti-christianity, because the whole film seems to comment and conclude that the quest of spirituality through christian formality is a failure, and it's better to have your life ruined and burned into ashes, then your re-incarnation would start to take shape.

(ps) btw, i don't mention a lot about milla jovovich because her character seems like a catalyst, a presence despite her actings in it are also good. and i must say, it's kinda refreshingly pleasant to see milla jovovich demonstrate some feminine sex appeal after all those years of that resident-evil action-heroine campaign (so mannish), which really makes me forget she's still a sultry, sexy woman with an other-worldly beauty (her eyes, especially!) even she's kinda twiggy and not full-chested. but still, hot!

since most people tend to overlook the writer in the movies, i must say, it's the writer who makes the picture! stone owes its brillaince the writer, his name is: Angus MacLachlan. (who hasn't written other impressive pieces but this one, hope he would have good works in the following years to come.)
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2010
Stone: Can we talk straight? You gonna help me out or what?

A meandering drama that makes sure to preach its themes pretty loud and clear, but also features very good performances from its stars. It deals with characters suffering from their own flaws and also looks to add some twists on atonement and what makes someone a sinner. Then you have the element of a sexually charged thriller to bring in the kids. Basically you have a lot of ins and outs for this OK film.

Edward Norton stars as Gerald "Stone" Creeson; a man who has served 8 years in prison for Arson and is coming up for a parole hearing. To increase his chances for an early release, he tries to manipulate correctional officer Jack Mabrey (Robert De Niro) by playing psychological games and having his wife Lucetta (Milla Jovovich) seduce Mabrey. Jack is a complicated character as well, weeks away from retirement, living with his own wife (Frances Conroy), who has had a troubling relationship with him over the years, as is evidenced by a shocking opening sequence. While Jack is a man living by the word of the law, his anger that boils under the surface may be undone by Lucetta, who has a way of letting herself be a perfect excuse for men to uncoil. Of course, all Stone wants is to be free, or at least in control of those who can grant him that freedom.

Lucetta: I do love my husband, and all I'm asking, is a chance for you to see him in a different light. Can I persuade you?

The four main characters in this film are all well acted. They all bring something effective and different to each of their roles. The highlights are easily De Niro and Norton. De Niro does some of the best work he's put to screen in years. His character, Jack, is a man who has a lot of problems that have continued to boil within him, as he has seemingly spent years hiding his aggression. Norton's Stone is a peculiar case of a younger man who is obviously very smart, despite having done things to end up in prison. The way Norton has given this character a specific look, speech pattern, and other little elements continues to reassure me that no matter how good the film is, he is an actor who carefully chooses the roles he wants to play. Jovovich has the most standard role as basically the skanky wife, but even as little developed as this character is, she gets more of a chance to excel than she normally does in films. And then you have Conroy who pretty much defines restrained, as she plays the long suffering wife, with a heavy religious background.

With all this being said about the actors, the film still has some main problems that hinder it. It's very slow paced. This is not normally a problem for me particularly, but it was certainly very apparent that the deliberate way this film was made did not exactly help me care more about what was going on. I enjoy a good film interested in getting into the minds of the lead characters, but this was certainly quite leisurely at getting to its points. I also had problems with the way this film handled its themes. In addition to the way the film tries to subtly build up its themes, it also bashes the audience on the head by having a faith-based radio station constantly remind us with exactly what is being communicated. Along with having one religious aspect being hammered home, the film also sets up and continues to strike upon another religious aspect that seems to have some kind of Scientology-like structure. Basically the film tries to be a little too deep when getting into the nitty-gritty of what these characters are putting their faith in, and by the time the film ends, I think the message may feel a bit muddled to some.

There are some additional elements I did enjoy. Director John Curran handles a few scenes with good use of scoring and juxtaposition with his imagery. While not a thriller, he also manages to build some tension during key sequences. It is also a very good looking film. Set in the Detroit area, while not a film about having much scope, it is well shot throughout and stays true to the characters in the way some shots are set up.

So as it stands, this film manages to hold up because of the caliber of the acting involved in this story. It has solid elements, but they have to be taken with a slow pace and some overwrought religious messages. Much like the temptation Jovovich provides for Jack in the film, I was victim to wanting to see what these actors could do here, but at a price.

Stone: Don't listen to her.
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