Friday, July 10, 2009

Public Enemies

Wonderful meat-and-potatoes Michael Mann, along the lines of his amazing and underrated Heat. Johnny Depp is great, as always, and I'm falling harder for Marion Cotillard every time I see her. But, while I found their courtship charming, I was even more impressed with them when they were on their own than when they shared the screen. Except for the love scene. It's been a while - I guess since Chocolat - since Depp has done a romantic scene like that, and I'd forgotten how ... excuse me, I just need a moment.

Okay. Everyone else in the film more than carries their weight. Christian Bale is wonderful as the law man obsessed with bringing Dillinger down, and Billy Crudup is incredible as a young J. Edgar Hoover (HOW did he make his neck disappear for this role???). Also of note is David Wenham as Pete Pierpoint and Branka Katic as Anna Sage (the famed "Woman in Red" - or in this film, the more historically accurate orange skirt and white top).

Away We Go

A little film by Sam Mendes (of American Beauty and Revolutionary Road fame), and one that's missing (to its credit) his trademark artistic stamp. The couple in this story are a far cry from the dysfunctional couples of his other films, and it's refreshing to see a story that puts obstacles in people's way without making it about their happiness with each other. I found this story very easy to relate to, as the characters are the exact age that I am and going on a journey similar to one I recently embarked on.

Fans of The Office will adore John Krasinski in this, as he is a bearded and slightly more outgoing Jim. And I was very pleasantly surprised by Maya Rudolph's quietly poignant performance. There's a scene on a trampoline where they exchange "marriage" vows that is probably my favorite moment in the film, along with Maya Rudolph singing a Bob Dylan song as a lullaby to the child of one of her friends.

The Hurt Locker

Truly an amazing film, and probably the best that I've seen about the Iraq war. It doesn't have a message or an agenda. It's just about a few guys and their experiences. The main character is played by Jeremy Renner, and he's an expert as dismantling bombs. In fact, he's so good at it that it's made him a bit reckless and danger-seeking. That works well for him through most of the film, but his thirst to Do Something ends up costing his team. This is a very well put together movie, and I'm surprised and elated to know that it was directed by Kathryn Bigelow, who also directed such other wait-a-WOMAN-directed-this?! movies as Point Break and the vampire western Near Dark.

A really incredible movie, and one that I think will survive the onslaught of award-bait fall pictures to be on a lot of top ten lists this year.


Hilarious a lot of the time, but not all of the time, it follows pretty much the exact same "weirdo on a journey" plot as Borat (rendering it disappointingly predictable), and after that film's notoriety, you can't help sitting there during every "real person" encounter wondering how real or scripted it really is. As I understand, the steel cage rumble scene at the end and the interviews in the "Middle Earth" were real, but I don't know about the rest. There was also an apparently real interview with LaToya Jackson with some quite innocuous references to Michael that were in the film when I saw it at an advance screening three weeks ago, but which were pulled from all prints after Jackson's death.

If you liked Borat, you would probably enjoy this as well. I did, for the most part. But a warning, before you go. This movie is designed to take the piss out of homophobes, and much of the character of Brüno is about confronting them with their own ridiculous stereotypes of gay people and the fears that acceptance of gays in our culture means that you might suddenly be confronted with two guys having anal sex right in your living room in front of you and your children. As such, there is a lot of penis in this film, as well as depictions of ... let's say unconventional sexual practices. In fact, I'm rather surprised that it got an R rating. That naked wrestling match in Borat is NOTHING to some of the shocks in this film.