Tuesday, September 18, 2007

I have a bone to pick with Jodie Foster ...

An alternative title for this post could be "threat level ludicrous."

Less a critique of the competely over-the-top new movie "The Brave One," this is instead an open letter to Jodie Foster (though, unlike John Hinckley, I'm relatively certain she will never read this.)

As for the movie itself, it has a few charms and far too many faults to make it more than slighty enjoyable. It's at its best at its quietest moments, when director Neil Jordan drops the rather awful music and just lets Terrence Howard and Foster act. Those moments, however, are completely overshadowed by a simply awful ending and many more pratfall along the way.

But, as I said, my main beef - relative to an interview she gave promoting this flick - is with Jodie Foster herself on this one.

The main question in my mind as I was leaving this flick was: What kind of New York does Foster's Erica Bain live in? As even people who haven't seen this yet probably know (and as you might be able to tell, I wouldn't really recommend rushing out to do so), her character is the victim of a very violent attack early on that kills her fiance and leaves her very badly injured. OK, fair enough.

From there, however, it just gets beyond silly. If you haven't seen the movie yet, please skip the rest of this paragraph so I don't ruin it for you. After buying a gun in a silly enough scene, Foster's Bain, in short order, encounters an enraged gunman in a bodega, gets accosted by two rather unpleasant black toughs on the subway and then encounters a wannabe pimp in Central Park.

Now, before I go any further, let me qualify this by saying I have never lived in New York, but I have probably visited there more than 50 times, and will do so again at the end of this year (and in my mind, I'm already there.) I did live in D.C. for a total of about five years, but the closest I ever came to being a victim of violent crime was when some dude walked up to my friend Jim Waddick during his first week in the city and, after asking him what time it was, then asked him for his watch. Jim, being a fairly rational guy from Edina Minn., promptly handed it over rather than pursue the matter any further.

But I digress. My point is this: Though I concede that New York is of course a very large city pulsing with all kinds of life, I've never had the displeasure of experiencing (or seeing, for that matter) any thing close to what happens in this movie. I've probably been to at least 100 bodegas and ridden the subways hundreds more times, and I've never felt terribly unsafe.

Now, this being a revenge movie and, of course, a fictional one, I'd be able to excuse this level of unreality if it were a better movie or if Jodie Foster hadn't raised the stakes in promoting it.

For anyone who may have missed it, here's what Ms. Foster had to say to the Associated Press about her view of the world we live in: "Post 9/11 is such a different beast. It's the safest big city in the world. There's a cop on every corner. And why is it that we're on Orange Alert? Why is it that we're a quarter-inch away from this rage and fear that has no basis in reality?"

Now, I don't like to dive into politics here too often, but I'm afraid this is nothing more than the worst kind of hypocrisy. If I can try and take the middle ground here, it's obvious that, yes, we have threats in this world that we were unaware of before 9/11. It's also clear, to me at least, that those color-coded threat levels do little more than foment fear, which is used by our government to many different ends.

But my point here is that Neil Jordan and Jodie Foster are also doing at least their fair share to try and make sure we live in a world where our fear level is higher than the reality around us with movies like this one. I concede that I'm taking this far too seriously, but it really got under my skin, so I had to let it out. Rant officially over.

"Juno" trailer is comic bliss

OK, anyone who stuck around through all that deserves a reward. Along with Ridley Scott's "American Gangster," the other movie I'm most looking forward to for the rest of this year is Jason Reitman's "Juno" (as anyone who's been here before probably already knew.)

Though David Cronenberg's "Eastern Promises" edged it out to take the prestigious audience award at the Toronto International Film Festival, Roger Ebert at least walked away thoroughly smitten with "Juno" and young Ellen Page. You can read all of his review, which my brother first directed me to, here, but here's an excerpt:

"It’s the kind of movie you almost insult by describing the plot, because the plot sounds standard and this is a fresh, quirky, unusually intelligent comedy about a 16-year-old girl who wins our hearts in the first scene. Page plays Juno, who gets pregnant, and — no, that’s not it at all. Every element in the movie including her getting pregnant, and her non-boyfriend, and her parents, and the couple that wants to take the baby for adoption, is completely unlike any version of those characters I have ever seen before."

And here is the, as far as I can tell, new trailer for the flick, set to open hopefully everywhere Dec. 14. Everything in the trailer, from Rainn Wilson's use of the word "homeskillet" to the great J.K. Simmons and Allison Janney as Ellen Page's endearingly clueless parents, is extremely funny. You can tell that first-time screenwriter Diablo Cody, whose Pussy Ranch blog you can read here, is bound for many great things after this one. Enjoy the trailer, and have an entirely bearable Tuesday. Peace out.


Ashok said...

Hey ! Very nicely written for "The Brave One" :-). I watched it last weekend and as a movie it takes it properly in acting but as you said lot of unexplained actions of Erica Bain :-). Of course ending made it even more worse :-). You can read my review


And regarding "Juno", yep I am eagerly waiting for all the movies of Toronto Film Festival to release sooner. I some how missed the plan of going for the festival but I am going to plan for the next, atleast for couple of days. Have you ever been to Toronto Film Festival or Sundance or any other?

Reel Fanatic said...

I haven't had that pleasure, Ashok, but my brother and I are tentatively planning to go to the Toronto International Film Festival and also take advantage of the opportunity to watch some Canadian MLS matches

Chris said...

Yeah, The Brave One is a different kind of New York. There was a study recently about the chances of experiencing violent crime on the subway would be as likely as being struck by a bolt of lightning. That's the main problem I had with the movie was the ridiculously easy way she found danger around every corner.

Thanks for the Juno trailer. This fall is going to be crowded with must-sees.

Bob said...

Thanks for your review of "The Brave One." I hadn't really planned on seeing it anyway and now I know there's no need to bother.
That "Juno" trailer is incredible. I hope Bateman and Cera get at least one scene together.

Linda said...

Thanks for this review. You addressed all of my reservations about this film. I usually agree with your views, so I trust I can pass on this film. On to Juno, this one looks great. The cast alone makes it worthwhile for me. Thanks!

Marina said...

I didn't have much interest in "The Brave One" other than the fact that I like Neil Jordan and would watch it because of him but I completely agree with your comments. I didn't realize she'd done such a fine job of putting her foot in her mouth.

As for the "Juno" trailer...looks like it'll be good fun and Ellen Page is an actress to watch. She's been fantastic in everything I've seen her in so her great performance here doesn't surprise me much!

Mercurie said...

My thought on seeing the trailer for The Brave One was simply that I couldn't believe Jodie Foster was appearing in a movie that was so derivative, let alone expecting all of us to take it seriously!

Neel Mehta said...

Reviewed it here.

Anyone else wonder if the movie might have been more interesting if Naveen Andrews' character had lived? Erica's motivation for revenge may not have been so cut and dried. He's a doctor and unlikely to go the same route; would her vigilantism sour their relationship? I don't know if this development would ultimately improve the movie, but it might have been a lot less derivative and more interesting.

Reel Fanatic said...

I think that may have indeed made this flick more interesting, Neel, but it's got so many faults that I don't think it could have saved it ... I still like Neil Jordan quite a bit as a director, but I just have to call this one an entire miss

Vasta said...

Juno was, by far, one of the best films of the festival. In fact, I'd say it tied with No Country for Old Men as my favorite film of TIFF.

The marketing campaign was amazing as well, and Ellen Page was absolutely fantastic. She's also a wonderful young woman (Canadian!) to hang out with as well.

Reel Fanatic said...

I'm insanely jealous that you get to go to the great TIFF, Vasta ... I'm also very excited for "No Country for Old Men"

James said...

Ugh, Jodie Foster. I've always thought she was over-rated. And is it just me or does she seem to talk without moving her lips?

Reel Fanatic said...

I've always thought she was a bit overrated, James, especially since she so often seems to play the same character (a victim of some sort) .. I hadn't noticed that thing about her lips, but now I'll have to pay closer attention

Homeland Colors said...

What is your opinion of 30 days of Night, way of subject but curious about what you think of it.