For once I have pretty recent films in my roundup. This is mostly due to the mysterious mr. S who keeps calling me Fridays prior to Troll i eske (en. Jack-in-the-box), a feature of The Oslo Cinemateque, asking me whether I’m up for it this Sunday. And I usually am. Going to a full cinema theater where nobody knows what’s showing is really cool. Some times you get to see great movies way ahead of the rest of the world, like we did this time around, and other times you wonder what the heck you did showing up in the first place.. Which also happened this time around.. But anyway, here we go!
No Country for Old Men (2007)
I’m gonna start up with this award-winning gem from the Cohen brothers. Speaking of them (the Cohen bros.), is it true that one of them had a sex-change recently, and so that we should go for the Cohen siblings? Totally irrelevant of course, ’cause they obviously know how to make good film regardless of their organs. A gift granted few. Well done with the Oscars, and well-deserved too.
This is definitely one of the better films you’re going to see this year and the next.
In a wide-open-sky Texas scene, hunter Llewelyn Moss discovers what appears to be a drug-deal gone bad, including a briefcase containing $2 million in cash. And he picks it up. That’s more or less the story here. I mean, you can’t get expect to get away with two million dollars and have no one come looking for you, can you? Moss is a great guy, a good shoot, but can he muster the balls to face up to ice-cold Tarantino-style serial-killer Chigurh (Javier Bardem)? See the flick to find out!
The Cohen brothers are known for their art d’atmosphere, and No country for old men is no exception. Sheriff Ed Tom Bell (Tommy Lee Jones) fits into that atmosphere like a lizard in the desert, while Llewelyn Moss (Josh Brolin) seems more rootless and on-the-go, creating two extremes of location-dependent personalities. Fit into the mix Llewelyn’s absolutely adorable Carla Jean (played by Kelly MacDonald), a whimsical deputy Wendell (Garret Dillahunt known from Dead Wood) and a stone-faced Bardem as the fatalistic Chigurh, and you have a pentagon-shaped persona-dynamic that the Cohen brothers exploit to the fullest. Absolutely brilliant performances, script and imagery! Not to mention the quality action and dialogs.
Running Scared (2006)
I saw this one hung-over Sunday afternoon with my brother, and I must admit it was a big surprise to me given that I hadn’t heard anything about it anywhere. And I was pleasantly surprised too. Because this is a great action/thriller that, for some reason, has escaped the attention of the movie-world. At least I don’t think it ran in European cinemas.
It is a wonderful mix of mobster-action with a touch of dark underworld, and even a Clockwork Orange type segment, always keeping the viewer on his/her toes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a Kubrick or a Herzog, it is just plain action but with a darker side. And it is good action. Thumbs up!
Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead (2007)
This movie has a spectacular opening given its American origin… hot, steaming sex starring Philip Seymour Hoffman and Marisa Tomei. Yum. I think it is for the same reason that it did not play in USA before it had had its premiere in several other countries. We caught it at a pre-premiere (the Norwegian premiere is tomorrow – 29th of February) and it caught us totally unawares.
At the outlet the movie’s about a robbery gone wrong, and *yawn* we’ve seen it so many times ever since Al Pacino effed up in Dog Day Afternoon. But no. This movie is an instant classic to my eyes. It is a deep, psychological thriller of Freudian nature, and I’ve recieved recognition for my comparison to classical Greek Tragedy. Hoffman and Ethan Hawke particularly deliver some class A acting in this movie, and the overall production (scenes, colors, sound, pace and music) really draws you into it until you’re not sure where you’re standing. Fact or fantasy? And that’s exactly what a good movie’s supposed to do. I have yet to see Capote (2005) but now I understand why I have to. And Albert Finney, member of the Royal Shakespeare Company, really lives up to his reputation. This movie has content and quality in abundance, but be warned: you might catch yourself taking sides in a battle with no winners. And no one was supposed to get hurt…
4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days a.k.a 4 luni, 3 saptamani si 2 zile (2007)
This is one of the worst movies I have ever seen. Period. And I’m not having my period right now because 1) I’m a guy and 2) I’m pregnant. How far along am I? Well I’d say 4 months, 3 weeks and 2 days give or take. But I’m gonna have an abortion… Trouble is, this is Romania in the 80s and fuck me, I’M NOT ALLOWED TO!!!!
And that is the outline of this film.. I’m not kidding you!
Now you might probably be thinking that I’m just another male chauvinist doing my best to discredit the very real consequences of anti-abortion legislation that exist in some countries even today. That I’m anti-feminist, anti-abortion and anti-quality acting. And I don’t blame you for thinking so, because apparently, you have still not seen this movie! I am not talking politics, legislation or women’s rights here. If we put the very real issues aside for a minute, then maybe we can talk about the movie, okay?
On the suck-o-meter this movie would get 7 out of 6! It is that awful.
The story drags along like a shit-eating fruit fly drowning in a pile of really runny feminist droppings. In slow-motion. It is that awful. I don’t know whether the director just fell asleep during the making – really can’t blame him – because the pace is like a very long menstrual cycle. Don’t get me wrong, in many films this is the right choice (take the pace in Dead Man for instance), it just isn’t right for this one. The acting on the other hand is really– oh wait! It’s awful too! The only thing that does not suck about the actors is the way they look. And their resumes. Maybe because they’re Cannes Palme d’Or-winning amateur go-go girls? Who knows?
I’m not going to say more than this: I have seen a great deal of film. And when I got up from the seat I pondered the possibility that there was something that I did not get about it. I looked over to Koew sitting next to the mysterious mr. S, and he was wiping a tear from his eye. I kept quiet. It was only later that he told me he had tears in his eyes for almost falling asleep during the movie! Mr. S. just wouldn’t talk about it, and three weeks later I had nightmares about revengeful aborted babies. Guess what graphics the dream was borrowing on? This flick.. Fuck it.
When we were going to the jack-in-the-box Cinemateque feature (see above) me and my brother were repeatedly betting that maybe this time they would play Cloverfield. It never happened, so the second week it played we had to get in line at the regular movies. I had read some interesting teasers and seen different discussions regarding the creature(s) in this flick, and my brother was all worked up about the viral marketing, viz. mysterious websites popping up with "top secret information and insight" leaked from secret government operations and researchers. This is a new way of marketing that really blur out the lines between fact and fiction (I know about paranormal websites where they take these videos to be the real deal). Suffice to say, we were eager to see what all the fuzz was about.
And it is no exaggeration when I say that this is the best monster movie I have seen in a very long time. This is not your standard make-a-billion-dollars Godzilla reproduction. Keeping in line with the quote unquote New Golden Age of Hollywood that movie critics are talking about these days, I think the current wave of alternative film has smitten onto commercial cinema too. Proving, yet again, that a movie doesn’t have to suck to be a blockbuster.
This particular monster flick addresses other issues than visual effects. The monster doesn’t play a fifth of the part the human actors do, and the storyline itself revolves around humanity, loyalty, loss and panic. And of course avoid getting eaten. The cleverly named character Hud (Head-up display anyone?) is the carrier of the camera that exclusively tells us the story of Some Thing wrecking havoc in New York one weekend. Is it just an earthquake? Is it alien? Is it ancient? Is it diabolical? Nobody knows anything, except that it’s winning. But before all this happens you get a really good introduction to the characters. And since I’ve been ranting so much about acting in this post, let me assure you that this time they nailed it. They were really convincing in their responses to this, mildly put, extraordinary situation.
There are a lot of technicalities in this movie that makes it so appealing. It addresses alot of the issues that you’d normally point out as major flaws. Given that it takes up the handheld-cam tradition after Blair Witch Project, this movie lasts exactly as long as a DV tape. Whenever the recording for some reason should drop out, or be paused, we’re shown whatever’s previously recorded, giving us additional insight into the peoples’ everyday lives. Then there’s the monster. We’re only shown it insofar Hud is pointing the camera at it. I’m not going to go on about its characteristics, to me it seemed like it changed throughout the movie, but it really hit that fear of the unknown button.
It’s a really scary movie too. If I had been completely alone in the theater, I would probably have gone insane. Even watching it again gave me the creeps. The bacon chips simply didn’t help. If you want to read more about the viral-marketing, the monster and the clues about its origin I suggest you head over to Cloverfield Clues. Don’t do it before you’ve seen the movie! I wouldn’t like to take the responsibility for ruining such a great experience for any of my readers. See ya!