Thursday, March 06, 2008

Recent Viewings

We've seen a lot of movies lately. Each time my parents volunteer to have us stay, we like to swing over to a theater after Toby's gone to bed. Or sometimes Dad will go with us and Mom and Toby have play-time on the ranch. She's particular about movies, and we take all comers, so it works out nicely.

The Departed: C+.
Is it just me, or does Scorsese pull a wiggle of his enormous eyebrows and at the very end make fun of the audience for taking this movie seriously? There are good performances, of course (Leonardo, Marky despite his hideous hair), but generally I think if I was a writer for this film I'd be ticked. I don't mind shoot-em-ups, but Reservoir Dogs this ain't. It felt like an ad for the Scorcesian style, the movie itself be damned.

Be Kind, Rewind: B+. I really like wonky movies centered on characters rather than tidy plots. And it's well-known I have a thing for Jack Black's style. My personal jury is out on director Gondry (LOVED Eternal Sunshine, and all those Bjork videos, but not so sure about Science of Sleep) and there are certainly some cliches of his own style in this. He has this one habit of setting up little scenes and then walking the camera along them horizontally, like a child would move from room to room of a doll-house or diorama. He seems also to like things that wiggle: fingers, children, streamers. If you want your movie to make a moral statement and to have an easily discernible plot structure/form, you probably won't like this. His pacing is all his own here, so you won't have the constant gags of standard Jack Black vehicles. I think he got a bit lost in his exploration of the middle act, but otherwise I liked it just fine.

No Country for Old Men: A. I have a huge crush on the mind of Cormac McCarthy. My dad put me onto his writing way back when, before any of the books were movies. I remember All the Pretty Horses made me cry actual tears from my hard-hearted cold-blooded ducts. It's the kind of writing you feel older for having read. No Country is one I haven't read, but it felt like McCarthy. They didn't glam it up, they didn't make it about anything less than the foundations of the human condition. In his writing there seems always to be a few distilled conversations between austere characters that define the kernel of the work, and these were not absent in the movie. Again, there is no hollywood tidiness here but you won't mind for the richness of the tale. Also, Tommy Lee Jones is yet another lawman, but like none other he's played, and his lack of an Oscar should embarrass the little naked bronze man.

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