Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Movie menu:Thanksgiving feast or a heap of turkeys?

Carla Jean Moss: And what are you going to do?
Llewelyn Moss: I'm fixin' to do something dumber than hell, but I'm going anyways.

If you only go to one movie during this holiday week, please make sure it is the Coens' "No Country for Old Men." That is, of course, if you live in a big enough city to get it in its second rollout wave, which I don't.

Luckily, I managed to squeeze it in during a busy D.C. weekend at the MLS Cup. Actually I had to watch much of it twice, but only pay for it once, because the first time we had to leave because a friend of mine who shall remain nameless had a bad reaction to the movie's considerable violence.

And it is indeed a rather violent film, so certainly don't go see it with a bellyful of turkey. But if you can get past that, what you'll get is a manhunt movie with all the intensity the Coens can muster (a hell of a lot) which turns in the last chapter to a morality tale about the choices we make and their inevitable consequences. It's also the best Western I've seen in many years.

There were two things, among many great ones, that stuck out to me. First of all is the cinematography, long a Coens' trademark but never better than it has been here as Roger Deakins gets more than you could imagine from the bleak Texas landscape where most of the movie takes place (and kudos to star Tommy Lee Jones, who apparently lobbied the Coens to shoot in Texas rather than take the tax credit to move to New Mexico.)

Second is that, though they were of course working from the novel by Cormac McCarthy, the dialogue throughout could only come from a Coen brothers movie. It's sharp and quick and will have you laughing in places that might make you feel very uncomfortable. Tommy Lee Jones. Josh Brolin (who is having one hell of a good year, by the way) and Javier Bardem get all the best lines, but special mention should go to Kelly Macdonald, who more than manages to hold her own in this macho world. It was driving me crazy to remember where I had seen her before, but have to admit I had to cheat with a peek at the IMDB to find out this Scottish actress played young Diane way back in "Trainspotting."

But of course there are a slew of other flicks opening this weekend, and depending on how early they start screening I may see two on turkey day itself (even though I later have to work.) Here's what's on the movie menu in wide-release world this week, in order of my preference. If you've seen any of these already and want to comment on them, please do.

1. "Stephen King's The Mist"
Please, please, please don't let this suck. Frank Darabont hasn't made a bad movie yet from a Stephen King work, so this one is first on my viewing list.

2. "Enchanted"
I'd watch Amy Adams do just about anything, but this had better be pretty darn charming if it's gonna be able to sustain my interest. Dr. McDreamy was on ESPN radio yesterday trying to plug it, but even he couldn't really seem to get too jazzed about it. If it indeed manages to spoof the Disney empire with wit, that will be good enough for me.

3. August Rush
Just about the only downside of having a DVR (besides the fact that I got it shortly before the writers walked out) is that I fast-forward through all the commercials. I therefore had never heard of this one when my co-worker Renee Martinez, a rather devoted fan of Jonathan Rhys Meyers, started asking about it a few weeks ago. Looks awfully sappy for my tastes, but I like Keri Russell and Freddie Highmore enough that I just might give this one a chance.

4. This Christmas
I want this one to do well, if only so they will keep making movies with all- or mostly black casts, but there's just no way I can pay to see it. Even with Delroy Lindo on board, any flick which gets its humor from women referring to their cleavage as "cookies" just clearly wasn't made for me.

5. Hitman
Titus Welliver, Silas Adams on "Deadwood," made a successful leap to the big screen this year with a pivotal role in "Gone Baby Gone," but it seems Sheriff Seth Bullock won't have the same luck. Timothy Oliphant gets the honor of starring in this flick, yet another based upon a video game I've never played.

And, if you happen to live in a more urban corner of the world than me, go see these three flicks, which I believe all open this week: Todd Haynes' trippy Dylan biopic "I'm Not There," Noah Baumbach's "Margot at the Wedding," which looks like just my kind of disfunction, and "Joe Strummer: The Future is Unwritten," Julien Temple's ode to the punk-rock warlord. If you do see these, please let me know if they're as good as I'm expecting them to be.

I'll leave you with two fairly cool posters that pretty much speak for themselves. Wall-E is Pixar's next big creation, and just in case you don't recognize the bottomless torso on the right, that is indeed Summer Glau from "Firefly" and "Serenity." Peace out.


jeremy said...

Caught 'No Country' this weekend--group of 6. Five guys, one girl. All the guys loved it. The girl punched each of us on the arm for making her come w/ us.
Still, its purt'near perfect. And how about that score? (All 4 bars of it)

Mercurie said...

No Country for Old Men not having come to my part of the country yet, I'll probably go see Beowulf this weekend. But I plan to catch No Country... ASAP.

Nell Minow said...

We both went with the same lede in our comments on "No Country for Old Men." I also thought it was superb. I'm glad you mentioned Kelly Macdonald. I hope you've seen her fine performances in "Gosford Park" and "The Girl in the Cafe." This was the first time I have seen her try another accent and I thought she nailed it.

I think you should give "This Christmas" a try. I admit I have a special fondness for those family holiday angst-fests, stuffed with secrets, accusations, forgiveness, food, and laughter, but the cast in this one is one of the best ensembles of the year.

The Joe Strummer movie is terrific, highly recommended. "Margot at the Wedding" was disappointing in ways I am still trying to understand.

When you have a moment, check out my new site. I am happy to be able to consolidate my reviews, blog, interviews, features, etc. in one place. I have upcoming interviews with Khalid Abdalla, the star of "The Kite Runner;" James Strouse, the writer/director of "Grace is Gone," and Diablo Cody and Ellen Page, the screenwriter and star of "Juno" (can't post them until the movies open) so check back to see those, too. Happy Thanksgiving!

Reel Fanatic said...

I definitely will stop by the new site now and often in the future ... With your recommendation, I may just give "This Christmas" a try, because as you mentioned the cast is terrific .. and I don't know how in the world I could have forgotten that Kelly Macdonald was in "The Girl in the Cafe," simply a perfectly charming little movie

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Bob said...

I'm so glad you loved "No Country." What an incredible movie! Impressive even by Coen standards. Apparently it is opening wide this weekend. It's even playing in Marysville today (the town I actually live in). If it's playing here then it must be in Macon too.

Reel Fanatic said...

I don't think we're getting it out here in Macon this week, Bob, which I found to be just thoroughly insulting ... Maybe when it does enough box office this week to move into the top five they will finally roll it out to play everywhere

Marina said...

It maybe a busy weekend of mediocrity but "Enchanted" seems to be at the top of the must see list.

Good thing too, outside of "Hitman" it's the only other thing opening this weekend that I care for!

Chris said...

Glad to see you loved No Country. This is my favorite film of the year so far; I've seen it twice and even though the ending is still a minor sticking point with me, you can't get much better. I think only There Will Be Blood will contend for the top spot the rest of the year.

By the way, go see Enchanted. As I'm sure you've read, Amy Adams is really good in it.

J. Marquis said...

I saw the Joe Strummer film last night. Very enjoyable. I never realized before how charismatic he was.

Reel Fanatic said...

There will be Blood is certainly one of the movies I'm dying to see before this year ends, Chris, cause I haven't seen anything from Daniel Day Lewis or Anderson for way too long ... I'm headed to New York for the end of the year, and that one will be on the top of my list while I'm there

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