Monday, February 25, 2008

Movie Reviews

Well it's the day after the Academy Awards, and I'm not ashamed to say I am one of the few men on this planet that actually watch the whole thing. I really am interested in seeing what movies and actors win the Oscars. This year I was pleasantly surprised as the show was actually tolerable thanks to Jon Stewart hosting the show yet again and the debut of the non-Edith Piaf-ed, Marion Cotillard, which was good.

Typically, it would make sense for me to have done some sort of Oscar predictions or something, but I haven't seen nearly enough movies to do anything other than regurgitate things I had heard from critics. As far as I was concerned the best movie of the year was down to There Will Be Blood or No Country for Old Men. Although I did think Zodiac was overlooked for Best Picture and especially Best Cinematography. Anyway, like I said, not much more I could add due to the lack of movies I saw this year. With that said, here are two movies I did get to see.

In Bruges

From Oscar award winner, Martin McDonagh, this movie sort of came out of nowhere for me. The flick stars Colin Farrell, Brendan Gleeson, and Ray Finnes based off of the play of the same name. Popularly described as "Waiting for Godot," only Godot shows up, I prefer to think of it more as Seinfeld with guns.

Set in the medieval town of Bruges, two hitmen are stuck awaiting their next assignment from their boss. During this time, the overly anxious Ray (Farrell) and touristy Ken (Gleeson) spend their time seeing the sights and meeting unique characters. What this all amounts to is a series of random events and sharp dialogue that makes every moment of this film funny, sad, entertaining, and dark in some way or another.

Filled with that dark humor I love, this movie did not disappoint. Every scene had some significance and meant something in the grand scope of the film. Then, in the Seinfeldian fashion, everything came together in the end to serve the film's moral and comedic scope beautifully.

What really was a surprise was the acting of Colin Farrell. You know what you're getting from Gleeson and Finnes, but in a rare moment of brilliance Farrell executes his job with near perfection and none of the annoyances that made you hate him in movies like Miami Vice and The Recruit. Granted the writing was about 98% better than those two projects, still it is a nice change of pace that could have crippled this movie.

Acting: 7/10
Plot: 7/10
Re-Watchability: 8/10
DVD Purchase: 7/10

Overall: 7/10

There Will Be Blood

Being a Paul Thomas Anderson fan, I previously mentioned how eager I was to see this film. The two main things you know about going in are Daniel Day-Lewis's performance and the "controversial" ending. First off, you're going to see a Paul Thomas Anderson film. Have you ever seen one? Every one has a controversial ending.

Boogie Nights (Penis)
Magnolia (Frogs)
Punch-Drunk Love (Car Crash)
There Will Be Blood (Bowling Pin)

Not too much to be shocked about. Also, another popular criticism was Daniel Day-Lewis supposedly over acting to a point that it was a sin and verged on ruining his whole performance. Without giving too much away, I feel like the way Daniel Plainview acted in the final scene is a perfect epitome of what he had become. All that he had he got from fury and hatred for others and it has now boiled over to the point of insanity and self-destruction. There is even a shot that pictures Plainview as an almost Godzilla type creature destroying fleeing Japanese.

Enough about the ending, but as for the actual film it was spectacular. Visually and thematically the movie takes you on a journey through the depths of this character of Daniel Plainview and at the same time critiques capitalism and what someone so motivated by personal gain can become.

Daniel Day-Lewis does dominate the film, and rightfully took every best acting award this year. He was fierce, and truly developed a character that was once in a lifetime. Sometimes he dipped a little bit into his Bill the Butcher from Gangs of New York (complete with moustache), but I felt that character was underused anyway.

The supporting cast sort of fails DDL, but he is definitely up for carrying the whole film. To be honest, along with PTA's vision of the film and his adaptation of the Upton Sinclair novel, "Oil!" that is really all you needed to have the 2+ hour movie fly by. You really had no choice but to take in this movie for all that it was worth. Hopefully this will spring PTA back into form and he'll get his next movie out a little quicker than this one.

Overall, this movie was the first true departure for PTA from his past flicks. It was not originally written from PTA, and also some of his famous tracking shots and memorable soundtracks take a back seat to a much more stripped down and cinematic movie that gives him a place of his own with movie directing elites. It wasn't better than No Country, but definitely lived up to my expectations.

Acting: 9/10
Plot: 9/10
Re-Watchability: 8.5/10
DVD Purchase: 8.5/10

Overall: 9/10


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