Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Burn After Reading: Laugh After Watching

The Coen Brothers.

They have been entertaining us for years with some of the oddest films ever made. Gems such as "Raising Arizona," "Fargo," "The Big Lebowski," "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" and of course, last year's Oscar Winner for Best Picture, "No Country For Old Men."

No Country For Old Men's problem was that it was a great film with a horrible ending. So for their follow-up presentation, they decided to reverse that problem. This time around, they give us a mediocre movie that gets increasingly funnier and funnier until the very last scene, which wraps it up nicely and leaves you laughing long after the credits roll.

The Coens do a great job at giving us odd characters creating bizarre situations for themselves, but this time around the characters fall flat. I felt like they wanted to give us something odd and quirky, but had run out of ways to present that to us. So you get George Clooney commenting repeatedly on peoples' flooring, and Brad Pitt dancing to his ipod on treadmills. Ha ha ha. Very friggin' funny.

But the story was tight. The characters, who were so uninteresting to watch at first, become more entertaining as they dig themselves deeper and deeper holes to climb out of. The final scene, which is really a wrap-up of the entire unfortunate affair, really made the whole film worth it to me.

So how do I rate this? It started out as a 4, and increased to about an 8 by the end, so I guess to be fair I ought to split the difference and give it a 6. Nicely done.

Friday, September 19, 2008

Righteous Kill: Unholy Device.

Pacino-DeNiro, DeNiro-Pacino.
The Ultimate Paring, you know what I mean-o?
But sadly their day in the sun has now passed.
And movies like this come across as half-assed.

Okay, enough poetry, let's get into it. This wasn't a bad story but it was a horrible presentation, thanks to a poorly-thought-out cinematic device that really shouldn't have been used.

DeNiro and Pacino are cops, and partners, in this film that finally-FINALLY!- has them sharing not just top billing, but substantial screen time. The movie starts out with DeNiro's character, on tape, confessing to a bunch of murders.


IMMEDIATELY, we know he didn't do it, right? Otherwise, why watch any further? This film is a cops-and-robbers drama. Cops-and-robbers dramas are essentially games: you, the movie-goer, have to figure out whodunnit before they tELL you whodunnit at the end! So when they start off with a confession, we KNOW that guy didn't do it!

You see the problem here?

If they had ommitted that device, or even if they had introduced it halfway into it instead of as the opening credits rolled, they'd have really had a winner here.

I mean, I'll be honest, seeing DeNiro and Pacino onscreen together at this stage in their careers is a little anti-climatic. It would have been so much more fun to see them co-starring in a Scorcese film ten years ago! (And hey, Scorcese, it'd still be fun... just in case you're reading this...) But this is what we get, too little too late.

But their performances are pretty good, to tell the truth. DeNiro is DeNiro, and Pacino didn't do that weird screaming thing he does in a lot of his films, so hey, I was happy. Don Wahlberg and John Leguizamo are also good in their roles. Carla Gugino plays an adequate dirty-girl love interest, 50 Cent plays 50 Cent with another name- nothing here to complain about in casting or acting.

The story is a solid story, nothing groundbreaking, but a decent gritty-city catch-the-serial-killer suspense story.

But that DEVICE- it took away all the suspense. You had two choices here for the "who" in "whodunnit" and right off the bat, we know who DIDN'T dunnit. Way to ruin it for me.

I give this a 6, for good acting, a decent cast, and a noble effort. They got a 6 and my $9. They ought to be happy.

Sunday, September 7, 2008

Bangkok Dangerous: Just like you, I didn't even bother to see it.

I have done a lot for you people.

I watched "Indiana Jones." TWICE. Just to make sure it was as god-awful as I thought it was.

I stayed awake through most of "The Golden Compass," fighting back violent urges to regurgitate my lunch throughout those painful waking moments.

I watched BEOWULF for you people! BEOWULF! All of it!

So never let it be said that I don't love you.

I thought that love was limitless.

I was wrong.

I'm not going to see Bangkok Dangerous for you.

Don't act all butt-hurt by it, ok? You weren't planning on seeing it either. Let's just pretend this weekend never happened, regroup, and try to pump ourselves up for Oscar Season. All is not lost. Iron Man and the Dark Knight are only a few months behind us; Hollywood isn't dead.