Victory by The Walkmen – I have tinkered during my now two week fascination with this song to create a new “bio-pic of my life X version” to accompany this recommendation. It began with sort of a high-school football paean (no doubt brought about by watching the entire first season of Friday Night Lights on DVD since I received it on Christmas Eve. (I’m not ready to recommend it, but I do highly recommend the watching of long story-arc television series in this manner. You get a lot more out of it and it bends to your schedule. Up next for me after FNL is Deadwood of which I have received some pretty astounding reviews.)) then it drifted into a weird Magnum P.I. thing (Prolly because of the luau sounding begining). Suffice it to say, I couldn’t get it to work. But the song is still phenomenal.
So what you do get (which is without a doubt the direct result of my being sicker twice in the last three weeks than I’ve been in the last five years) is a new segment called “WD weekend movie review.”
The Town – (ups to Tdunn here. He and I already had most of this conversation and,
as we always seem to do about movies, agreed.) OK, Affleck is not a great actor. I’d struggle to call him a good one. But he is a good (not great) director. As a good (not great) director, he was smart enough to (1) play to his strengths which are movies based in or on blue collar(townie) Boston. I don’t know anything about Boston as a city (other than their fans are a bunch of delusional assholes) but I feel Affleck does a great job of portraying it on screen (Good Will Hunting, Gone Baby Gone). He makes me believe it again here; (2) rip of just enough of Heat that people not overly familiar with Heat won’t recognize it. He does both of these perfectly. This is a good movie. Jeremy Renner is awesome, Blake Lively is naughty, Pete Posthlewait is ominous and it has Don “mother fucking” Draper in it. I definitely give this a WYT (=Worth Your Time)(N.B. still working on the rating system. Here’s what I’m kicking around: HAL (Home Alone Level) 5 stars, a timeless classic never to be duplicated; RDW (Run Don’t Walk) = 4 stars, really really good; WYT = 3 stars, pretty dang good; WPBSS (Watched PBS Simultaneously) = 2 stars barely enough to hold my interest over Nova and/or Antiques Roadshow; SIL (Shakespeare in Love) = 0-1 stars. Feel free to comment on it.)
Cyrus – The new (kind of) Sundance/indie film thing to do is to create a character that is particularly loathesome (not criminal, but just a real dick) then create a series of adventures or plot points that make it hard for you not to like him/her in the end. (e.g. Juno, Greenberg, Sideways). This movie does this and then sticks the landing, but not in a good way. The writers/directors are Jay and Mark Duplass (who I kind of think wish their names were Joel and Ethan) that got their start in a genre of films that is so indie they had to make up their own name for it, mumblecore (I’ve researched this a bit and can’t seem to find any coherent definition of this term. All I’ve found is just a list of movies. As such, it reminds me very much of the term “grunge.”) and I feel like they squander a really great opportunity with really great actors. The performances are good, especially Marissa Tomei, who is astounding and is soon due a real Oscar to make up for the fake one she won for My Cousin Vinny (which, don’t get me wrong, every lawyer (who I’d like to hang out with, anyway) loves MCV and I do also “where those magic grits?”) where she just played a stereotypical Jersey Guidette. As opposed to The Wrestler where she played the most accurate portrayal of a stripper I’ve ever seen. But in the end, they had all the right ingredients (because the premise was also sound in an indie-film kind of way) the results just tasted like shit. WPS.
Winter’s Bone – I rented this based solely on its place in Roger Ebert’s Top-10 for the year. Ebert, who I read alot and respect greatly, is normally correct on his recommendations. He hit this one out of the park. Brief plot summary: Girl, 17, lives in the Ozarks and raises her younger siblings off the land essentially (I’m talking chopping firewood and squirrel stew). Her mother is catatonic and her father his M.I.A. having put up their home and the little amount of property they have left to post bond after being again pinched for cooking crank. The remainder of the movie is what she does in response to protect her younger siblings. It’s unbelievable. You dive headfirst into the nouveau whiskey still culture of crank/meth cooking in the Ozark area and the organized crime that accompanies it. They both seem too real to be misrepresentations. Then it culminates with one of the most psychologically disturbing scenes I’ve ever seen. The girl, Ree played by Jennifer Lawrence, is captivating. The movie is must see. RDW
Minority Report – Not a new movie (2002) but I watched it last weekend for the first time since the theater. I always remember it leaving a bad taste in my mouth. I remember that bad taste coming from the ending. The ending hasn’t changed, but my interpretation of it has (aided by reading a few scholarly articles, I’ll admit)(and if you got this the first time, let me know and props to you). Stop reading now if you haven’t seen it. But when they lock down Maverick (via coma) for killing the guy he thought murdered his son, the jailer says as they’re putting him down “It’s actually kind of a rush. They say you have visions. That your life flashes before your eyes. That all your dreams come true.” After that point, the film descends into an almost impossibly happy ending. It cuts to a scene of his wife with his mentor (who is actually the antagonist) before a party (reasons for this interaction are never explained or even troubled with) where the antagonist inadvertently reveals that he killed the mother of one of the weirdos that see the future (precogs). From that point, his wife is able to have Maverick released from jail, Maverick rights himself enough to be able to show up at the same party the same night, calls the antagonist revealing what he’s done (including playing the “prevision” on the overhead at the party), then setting up the supposed paradox at the end of the film which is resolved by the antagonist killing himself, then the precogs get set free to go live on an island wistfully reading books while hopefully their minds right themselves and Maverick and his wife get back together to have another child to replace the one he lost at the swiming pool. After an intense two hour ride we are left at an unresolvable impasse at the precipice of a downer ending. This resolves itself in about 15 minutes. Clearly this was a dream. Then that made me look at the entire movie differently, good differently. I reflected more and realized it was by far the best movie of 2002 and probably the best movie Speilberg or Maverick has ever made. RDW.