Christian Bale actually shoots my (guilty pleasure) Channing Tatum down early on in Public Enemies but I've totally forgiven him because I'm so pleased that he didn't shout at the camera with crazy eyes this time. I was getting so tired of that. My second favorite scene in the movie is totally his lone scene with Johnny Depp through the bars of a jail cell, both men subtly trying to come out on top of the verbal smackdown. Bale is totally intense in the scene without once doing his "LOOK HOW INTENSE I AM!" thing. Well played Bale, well played.
My full review of Public Enemies is up over at Towleroad. In addition to holding forth on Public Enemies (which I heartily recommend to some and not to others) my weekly column offers up new gay movie news and wraps up with the criminal cool of Bette Davis. So, go read it.
But back to PE...
I'm totally fascinated by the diverse opinions I've been hearing and reading. Rather improbably for a straightforward gangster story, it seems to be something of a rorschach test, people reacting to it in completely personal ways. How else to explain nearly exact opposite reactions such as 'this is a character study but the action doesn't work' vs. 'there is zero character development but the action scenes are well shot'.
It's for this very dichotomous reason that I don't subscribe to either of the Oscar race notions floating around out there: the pro 'The Oscar race has begun' or the con 'Dead on arrival. Look at the middling reviews!' It seems obvious to me that it's the type of picture that will need time to settle. I think that's a good thing. Too many movies are instantaneously celebrated or dismissed on their very first day in theaters (and sometimes before that). Christ, let them breathe a little.
But if you've seen it, do add your initial impression to the confusing dogpile. After all, gut reactions come before full digestion.