Sunday, April 24, 2011

No Country for Old Men - 80

2008 Oscar winner. Joel & Ethan Cohen, Javier Bardem (Best Supporting Actor), Tommy Lee Jones, Josh Brolin, Woody Harrelson and that guy with the red stapler from Office Space.

I think the best way to start off explaining this movie is by describing it as delightfully creepy.  You don't really understand what is going on until about an hour into the movie, but the whole time you're riddled with curiosity while the movie generates a great amount of suspense.  Then the movie hits the 65 minute mark and ALL HELL breaks loose.  You understand more of what is going on and then an intense series of scenes happen back to back, and you're hooked.  The Cohen brothers don't leave much to the imagination, including some fairly graphic scenes with no lack of blood. Including a fairly remarkable scene where Javier Bardem has to clean a shotgun wound on his thigh. Graphic, and for the film it almost seemed necessary to show.
Javier Bardem - No Country for Old Men
Which leads me to my favorite scene in the entire movie. Javier Bardem blows up a car as a diversion so he can gather supplies from a drug store. At first you think he it going to siphon out gasoline from a car to somehow clean his wound, but instead he shoves a handkerchief down the gas cap and ignites it.  He then turns around without hesitation and walks into the store knowing exactly what was about to happen.  This is the first point in the entire movie you notice his character is harried.  He doesn't walk calmly into the store, he is visibly shaken and you can see a hint of concern on his face.  I mean, what else to expect when he's been shot in the leg and it losing more and more blood by the minute...

Our other main character, Josh Brolin, has also been shot.  He escapes to Mexico and wakes up in a daze to Woody Harrelson telling him he's in over his head.  Then of course, after Josh Brolin has committed all of these immoral acts, the one act that SPOILER ALERT gets him killed is when he flirts with the idea of adultery.  And it wasn't even Javier Bardem who caught up with him in the end.  More killing, more blood, more creeptastic events are preformed by Javier Bardem and somehow the Cohen brothers still have you on edge more than three quarters of the way through the movie.

The most suspenseful scene, in my opinion of course, happens near the end of the movie.  Tommy Lee Jones comes back to the crime scene at the hotel room and he sees that the locks have been "blown" in by the same device that has been breaking into other rooms (scariest friggin compressed air weapon ever...) and takes out his pistol before he walks into the room.  Meanwhile we see Javier lurking in the shadows of the dark in a room, staring at the same lock, well lack of lock I suppose.  And then Tommy Lee Jones throws the door open and stands in the doorway.  The shot of him illuminated by the light from the street lamps in the doorway, staring into imminent danger, unable to see his face but only the outline of his frame was so well done by the cinemetographers.  You want to hold your breath with Tommy as he enters the room, your body tenses as he takes that first step willing to put money down that Javier was going to attack him at any second....  I have started to realize how similar vantage points and camera angles are across Cohen Brother's movies.  Seriously check that out.  Think of comparing this with "True Grit".  I think it's a little uncanny actually.

Not to give away any spoilers for those of you who have not seen the movie, do we every really know what he does at the end?  The end I believe is left up to the viewers interpretation.  I spoke with two people and they both had different takes on the ending.  Which I believe, makes for great discussion and in turn is characteristic of an enthralling movie.

Picking between "There Will be Blood" and this movie is a no brainer.  It's this movie hands down.  Suspense that takes off like a rocket and then pair that with your curiosity throughout the entire film... a definite must see.  The ending is perfect for the story as well.  You get the idea that Javier Bardem's character is a ghost.  That he is still out there and still a psychotic killer on the loose, that will never be found or brought to judgement.

Just a thought; cowboy boots are very loud when you're trying to run away quietly from a psychopathic killer.  For future reference if any of my faithful readers are thinking about purchasing cowboy boots and trying to be sneaky like whilst wearing them....

Until next time, thank you Academy #80

Saturday, April 16, 2011

The Bridge on the River Kwai - 81

1957 Winner. 161 minutes, won 7 Oscars in total. Just like the title says, building a bridge over the river Kwai, during WWII.

Let me preface this post with a little known secret, I'm not a huge war movie fan. What I really mean is that I'm not a pre 1990's war movie genre film fan. To be quite honest I was not looking forward to watching this film since it is indeed titled as a war film produced pre 1990.

I was however pleasantly surprised.

One of the 7 Oscars (besides best picture obvs), was for best actor, Alec Guinness.  You might remember Alec Guinness from such movies as, oh I don't know, STAR WARS.  Correct, he was Obi-wan Kenobi in episodes IV and V.  So almost the entire time I was watching the movie all I could think about was him in a cloak whilst slinging a light saber.  Ok, so maybe not the entire time, but the thought would randomly creep up in my head throughout the movie.

The movie wasn't anything I expected.  I thought it was going to be fighting and scenes of war, inundated with random skirmishes and battles.  I couldn't have been more wrong.  In a nut shell it was about English soldiers, with a handful of Americans, in a Japanese PoW camp.  Instead of being interrogated ala Jack Bauer they were put to work to build a bridge on the River Kwai (WHO KNEW?!).  Colonel Nicholson (Alec Guinness) refuses he and his fellow officers do work because according to the Geneva Conventions, captured officers are exempt from manual labor. The Japanese camp commander, Saito, backhands him across the face and threatens to kill him and the officers.  After some punishment in what they call the "hot box" (a metal box in the direct sunlight), he comes out and says NO, I still refuse to do manual labor annnnd more punishment in said "hot box". Then, Nicholson and Saito come to an agreement that the officers do not have to do physical labor yadda yadda. Saito really caved because the bridge was so far behind schedule, not because he suddenly had a stroke of sympathy.

Moving past the really boring details that is the actual plot of the movie, because really the rest of the movie was building a bridge, on the river Kwai...  Col. Nicholson becomes so wrapped up in the thought that by building this bridge he is somehow demonstrating the honor and character of the British Soldier.  At the end he even makes a plaque to let everyone know that the bridge was built by British soldiers.  Of course on the other side of the coin the British Army is devising a plan to blow the bridge up to interrupt Saito's railway for supplies.  Nicholson sees lines rigged to explosives and figures out that something is wrong and that someone is trying to destroy his beloved structure, so he follows the wires and actually ends up killing one of his own men, and then ends up getting shot himself, but not before realizing what he had done.  Nicholson's body falls on the detonator and the bridge blows taking down the ceremonial first train that was passing over it.

Overall, thinking back on the movie I give it an upbeat "meh" rating.  Not one of my favorites, but not the worst Oscar movie that I've seen yet.  Alec Guinness did a supreme job acting as an arrogant Brit only concerned about what others think of his integrity and character.  But still, Star Wars. It's definitely a movie you have to see for yourself since it appears to be fairly difficult to explain.

Well, since I've probably confused more people and have completely talked myself in circles, I think that should wrap it up.

Until next time, thank you Academy #81

Friday, April 8, 2011

The Kings Speech - 82

2010 Winner, Colin Firth (Won Best Actor), Geoffrey Rush(Nominated), Helena Bonham Carter(Nominated).

The most recent Oscar winner that one of my friends deemed an "old people's movie".  Which I found rather amusing since it was one of my favorite movies of the year, which then in turn made me feel old.  Terrific movies don't have to have explosions, suspense and sex appeal, and though the majority of the movies this season had all of these characteristics "The Kings Speech" ventured away from the blockbuster norm and set an awe-inspiring scene on screen.

If you have seen the movie I would like to point out that Helena Bonham Carter was filming "The Kings Speech" on weekdays and then completely switching roles and filming Harry Potter on weekends.  Roles that are such complete opposites that I'm surprised she didn't develop multiple personality disorder by the end of it, and she executed it so perfectly.  Helena is not normally known for being mild mannered or demure, which is why I was shocked to hear she would be playing Queen Elizabeth.  Then I saw the movie in a theater that seats about 50 people on vacation in Sarasota, FL.  The theater plays host to a ton of film festivals and is the cutest postage stamp of a place you'll ever watch a movie.  It's obvious Colin Firth blew me away in his performance (more on that later), but it was Helena that I was most surprised with.  Sure she had a small role and many people were confused as to why she was nominated for Best Supporting Actress, but to me it was the way she delivered her lines.  I know that sounds a little strange but she did it so effortlessly, like she had to portray the Queen Mum on a regular basis, and as a Brit it had to be terrifying to do her justice.  Her lines were just so matter-of-fact and as a viewer I felt that the character in the movie meant the lines she was saying, not just saying what was scripted. It was a side to Helena Bonham Carter I have rarely seen.

Colin Firth.  I mean. Colin Firth. Just, wow.  I can only imagine how frustrating it had to be for him to speak with a stutter throughout the entire filming process.  I read somewhere, or saw an interview that he would get pretty intense headaches on long days of stuttering.  As i described with Helena Bonham Carter, Colin firth made the viewer feel what he was going through.  There were times I wanted to shout at the screen, grab him and shake him "it's going to be OK! Just say what you're thinking!"  Other times where my heart swelled with sympathy for what he was going through.  The movie as a whole was such a great story of courage, determination and camaraderie.  It wasn't about "getting the girl" or "fighting for a cause", it was the story of not just a King, but a man struggling with a disability and how he was able to work through it and because one of the stronger figures during WWII.  All with the assistance of.....

...Geoffrey Rush.  Once again, another phenomenal actor portrayer their character.  I immediately fell in love with Geoffrey Rush's character, Lionel Logue.  He was likable, witty and, well it's Geoffrey Rush... Some of the scenes between Lionel and the King were absolutely hilarious.  Something I didn't really expect from this movie, and it kept my interest and develop a stronger connection to the characters.

By the end of the film I wanted to cheer for King George, I wanted to applaud his final speech and I wanted to high five Lionel Logue.  That is the type of movie that should win Oscars (for all you doubters out there).  As a viewer I wanted Bertie (family nickname of King George, for Albert) to succeed, to prove his family and the world wrong.  All in all, a fabulous portrayal of King George's unusual rise to the throne during troubling times and defying all adversity.

It takes leadership to confront a nation's fear. It takes friendship to conquer your own.

Until next time, thank you Academy #82

Saturday, April 2, 2011

The Hours - Best Actress

2002 film that rewarded Nicole Kidman her only Oscar to date.

"The Hours" has been on my list of movies to watch for quite some time now.  Not only did I want to see what landed Nicole Kidman an Oscar, but the cast boasts some major names; Julianne Moore, Ed Harris, Meryl Streep, Claire Daines, John C. Reilly & Toni Collette. The cast did not disappoint.

From the very beginning I was hooked.  It grabbed my attention by playing with my curiosity.  Who is this woman, why is she putting rocks in her coat, isn't Nicole Kidman in this movie?  Wait, is that Nicole Kidman?! By the 7 minute mark I was already on my computer opening up IMDb, because I knew the interwebs wouldn't lie to me.  I had to verify that I was looking at Ms. Kidman, the same gorgeous actress who was in "Moulin Rouge!".  Srsly.

Nicole Kidman - Virginia Woolf

Carlize Theron - Aileen
That's right kids.  Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf on the left. Who woulda thought?!  The transformation was almost as shocking as Charlize Theron from "Monster". Almost. (Pictured right) I mean, it's damn near impossible to top Charlize's performance in that creeptastic role, which earned her a well deserved Oscar, for portraying a true serial killer. I understand that a lot of credit is given to the makeup crew, but the point I'm bringing up is how well they both did at completely transforming themselves into their characters emotionally.  Both playing real life people, both ridiculously unstable characters.  If you haven't seen "Monster" I recommend it, but I must warn you, very dark and twisted. Alas I  have digressed ...

I feel that the beginning was so gripping not only because of the curiosity factor, but the music was perfectly entwined into the scene.  The melody did not drown out the scene, it complimented it perfectly and flowed smoothly into the beginning credits(thank you Phillip Glass).  Then after the opening sequence you start to see the lives of three women; Julianne Moore playing a unhappy housewife in 1951, Meryl Streep as a 2001 publicist and Nicole Kidman as Virginia Woolf circa 1921 struggling with depression and the meaning of life while writing one of her most famous novels, Mrs. Dalloway.  The lives of these women are simply shown to you, with no dialogue, for about 10 minutes.   All living different lives but tied together by the same underlying dark motif of death.  

If your in the mood to watch a movie movie I highly recommend you watch this.  It's definitely a darker drama but the acting was tremendous and just how it's about life, death and how people deal with them was really intriguing for me.  Maybe it was the mood I was in, but I do believe this movie is in my top 30 movies, definitely top 50 movies. I ended the movie with a better appreciation of the friends that I have and my own personal happiness being a driving factor in major decisions.  You can't stick with something, either a job, relationship, etc; if it doesn't truly make you happy.  Because honestly, what is life without happiness? 

The movie also had some amazing lines.  When Kidman's husband asks her about her novel and "why does someone have to die?" she responds with "someone has to die so we value life".  And my favorite line was Kidman's response to her family's choice to move her to the country side for he "mental stability"; "You cannot find peace by avoiding life".

Definitely a movie worth your time. And yes, that IS Nicole Kidman.  Srsly. 

Until next time,  happy viewing!