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Irving Young's Mama Mia

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October 02, 2012 | 04:48 PM
You shouldn't see "End of Watch" just because it's co-produced by a 2001 Badger High School grad Alex Ott.

You should see it, because it's a darn good movie.

I first heard of "End of Watch" a few weeks ago when Alex's mother, Linda, came into the office.

"I don't know if this is news or not," she said. "My son was co-producer of a movie."

She showed me a review from "Variety," the bible of the entertainment industry.

Alex's name was noted by a yellow magic marker.

I looked up the reviews on Rottentomatoes, my favorite movie critique site — 85 percent of the reviewers like it.

Yes, I thought. This is a story. And Alex's mother obviously has a right to be proud.

Alex and I had a hard time connecting at first, so I thought the best way to write the story was review the movie.

We subsequently exchanged emails and you can see his Q&A in the accompanying story. I'll give the movie the good review it so justly deserves.

But first a moment to explain that Alex wasn't just window dressing.

I wondered what a co-producer did, but when the credits rolled and he was listed about three screens in, I knew it was something substantial.

"End of Watch" is a story about two uniformed policemen portrayed by Michael Pena, and Jake Gyllenhaal, who was nominated for a Best Actor award in 2010 for "Brokeback Mountain." It's a character study about men and women who spend more time in a squad car together than they do with their families. They talk about their families, their hurts, their wants, their fears.

The movie's writer and director, David Ayers wrote "Training Day" and both films have a similar grittiness.

Oh, sure, there's a lot of swearing and some "oh-my-god" violence as there was in "Training Day." But it's all in the context of the story, so don't let that dissuade you, unless you're especially squeamish.

Much of "End of Watch" was shot with a hand-held camera. It seems the Gyllenhaal character is taking a film class. At times the idea seems forced. But by in large it worked, making much of the movie so jaw-droppingly real that you had to make sure there was no blood on your shoes when you left the theater.

When I was explaining the movie to someone, they asked: "Was it a documentary?" It wasn't, but it had the same feel.

While you can enjoy it as an action film, "End of Watch" is much more.

There was a nice balance between their family lives and their jobs. And the constant banter between the two partners is both revealing and touching. It's about how family life and a cop's life meld together — or fight to survive — in an especially dangerous part of L.A.

And the bad guys are soooo bad they'd make the devil blush. It was like they'd taken some thugs off the street to act, and that they'd brought their own guns into the studio.

I had seen Paul Thomas Anderson's "The Master" a few days before I saw "End of Watch." I'm sure "Master" will be up for Oscars galore, especially for the amazing acting. But I found something lacking. It had no soul.

"End of Watch" is oozing with soul.

So why isn't it at the Showboat, Lake Geneva's local theater — even though it grossed more nationwide than any of the movies they're currently showing?

General Manager Tim Diederich explained that he was contracted for the six film he already has showing.

After talking to Linda, Diederich said he wanted it here too.

"But our film broker couldn't get it for us," he said.

Not to worry. It's a movie worth leaving town to see.

Halverson is editor and general manager of the Regional News.


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