Tuesday, October 30, 2007

A GOOCHER OF GREAT MOVIES

Hey all,

OK OK Im sorry I haven't said too much about the premiere of the movie here or any new WT2 updates (here's one...its kicking ass in sales and rentals, thanks guys!) and you'd think all Id want to talk about is the movie and blah blah blah...but honestly, this past week, I saw 3 of my favorite movies, and its hard for me to process all that cinematic splendor. Now, as of this writing none of these films have been released so Im not gonna say too much about them to avoid over-hyping, but when movies like these burrow into my brain and stick there, I can't contain it.

(NOTE: Im not a critic, so please dont go saying "Ooh here's an advanced review!" cause these are just the lowly opinion of a geek, so please dont repost thanks)



NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Right now my #1 movie of the year. I love the Coen's...they represent for me one of the first filmmakers that had a clear and defined "movie voice" when I got to see RAISING ARIZONA on HBO again and again when I was trying to do homework. It was such an amazing visual feat, and was a fan ever since. To me, from BLOOD SIMPLE to O BROTHER was a golden time in a movie lover's life, when you could ALWAYS count on Joel & Ethan to come up with something provocative, engaging, sometimes funny, sometimes emotional and always visually stunning. From MAN WHO WASNT THERE (which felt like it was just Creative Over-control) to LADYKILLERS, I started to get worried...what happened guys?

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN will challenge every viewer who sees it, especially it's climax (which I heard was faithful to the book) which had me both scooping my brains back into my head enough to scratch it, trying to figure it all out and see it it worked for me, and the more i thought about it, the more I thought it works perfectly. Some people will not agree with me, but then again, that's good cinema; not the type to cater to the broadest audience, but to make a visual statement and see where the audience takes it. Never should be the other way around, even though that's considered "risky business" to the money people.

But that aside, the story, the cinematography, the direction, the music and ESPECIALLY the acting is top notch here, a total return to BLOOD SIMPLE/FARGO form for the Brother's C. Josh Brolin is on a roll with his 'stache (he also sports one in PLANET TERROR & AMERICAN GANGSTER) and his performance is heroic, shady, sad, funny, macho and the kind of protagonist you WANT to follow, a la Kowalski in VANISHING POINT, no matter what his decisions may be. However....you will NEVER forget Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, playing what could be the most quietly sadistic villain in cinema history, or at least since Hannibal Lector in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS. The movie is fully ALIVE and bursting with tension every time he steps on screen with his Dutch Boy haircut, lopsided smile, warbling voice and a tank of compressed air, which could be the most deceptively creative murder weapon of the new Century.

The more I think about this movie (and my brain has been clocking quite a few hours on it), the more I think it might be their best film yet. Welcome back guys. We missed you.



THE MIST: OK, now this has, to me, been a LONG time coming; almost 21 years I've been waiting to see this movie on the big screen, and I got a call at the last second to attend a secret screening and I had to jump at the chance. The simple fact that Frank Darabont, one of my heroes, was making the film only made me more excited, and when i got to talk to him about it in length over the last few months, I felt like the story was in VERY good hands. Add Tom Jane, Marsha Gay Harden, Berni Wrightson designs, the DP from THE SHIELD and KNB? I was sold...

I had seen some footage at Comic-con and from that and the trailers, however, I was getting fearful that the film might not live up to my already skyrocketing expectations. The creatures looked half-finished, the lack of music was making scenes fall flat, and the trailers themselves seemed to be pushing more horror on us, which isn't what the book was. Sure it was frightening, but it was more about the people, not the monsters in the mist.

Well, quell your nerves, because Darabont's interpretation of STEPHEN KING'S THE MIST is a genre masterpiece, yet its not a horror film. It's a terrifying, disturbing and affecting drama. Because Darabont focuses on the inhabitants in The Food House as shit goes down, he allows us to connect with the characters more, and with the amazingly seductive verite look of the film (with its doc-like zooms and sloppy focus) that makes you feel like you are IN the store, mixed with some ingenious use of creature effects, this film floored me. Sure it was still not a final print, with some effects not looking too hot in this version (which I was told would be fixed) and the music seemed to be temp. Yet, up until the ending, it was totally fulfilling my 10 year old geek that was praying it would be at least SOMEWHAT like the book or even like the amazing audio performance that came out in 94 (where MIST cast member Bill Sadler played the lead! Small world in Castle Rock it seems), this film visualized the book in the only way it could, and I was hooked from frame ONE (with a clever nod to King and John Carpenter fans, which happens a few more times too, much to my smiling)....and then we come to the ending.

All I will say is that Darabont closes the open-ended climax that happens in the book (supposedly in he press notes King is quoted as saying that he approved the new ending and said if he thought of it, that would be the ending) but it is an ending that will sharply divide the audience. Personally, I fucking loved it, because in a way, deep down, it's what HAD to happen...or what we feared would, It was a ballsy decision, and one Im shocked made it past the Weinsteins, but then again, there was a time when Bob & Harvey actually had a pair, so maybe they're letting their new company's nuts drop. Where the film was satiating my inner geek and fulfilling expectation, the climax of the film EXCEEDED my hopes. This is a hard way to close the book on THE MIST, but I fucking loved it and it's now my #2 film of the year, which...who knows? When i see it again opening night (which I will be doing) it might just surpass NO COUNTRY. To me, its just that good, and the film has been disturbing me for days.

The monster movie genre, kicked off with THE HOST and now THE MIST, will hopefully be "back"...let's just hope people go out and see it.

Thank you Frank Darabont. I wanna kiss ya.



AMERICAN GANGSTER: I didn't have high hopes for this one, even though I love Ridley Scott, Steve Zallian and both Denzel and Russel as actors. This project just felt like "easy Oscar contender" for me since everyone involved had the pedigree (including producer Brian Grazer) but also just felt a little lazy..."Hey, who wants to go to the Oscars next year? I do! I do!"

Yet, the film worked. God damn did it ever. From the shocking opening scene, you'll know this aint yo' momma's Denzel Washington, yet he's not in full testosterone mode like he was in TRAINING DAY, chewing up every scene he could. Washington gives a great, if understated role as Frank Lucas, the "people's gangster", who in the 70's mounted a complex and, for a time, wildly successful drug trafficking binge that overwhelmed his streets or Harlem and beyond, and Crowe's character, a hardened cop who is not the department's best friend, tried to follow his trail of bread-crumbs. The most amazing thing in the film is how it FEELS like it was actually shot right after THE FRENCH CONNECTION (which, miraculously enough, it has actual ties to!) and Scott didn't overwhelm the story with lots of his usual bag of tricks, even though it's his brother who is usually the more flash of the lot. But also, how Zallian and Scott dwell not just on the primary players, but how the decisions, deals and drugs they make affect the neighborhood and the people living in there as well. This is a really well-rounded epic, giving all sides and perspectives to let the audience make its decision by the end, which also climaxes in an unconventional way (seems to be the motif of this blog...Joe likes odd endings! I mean, I like Happy Endings too...no, that's not what I mean-oh forget it) yet felt appropriate to the story. This will likely be a major contender for all the creative people involved, and all in all its a surprisingly solid crime thriller with some stunning performances and moments of shocking violence. Kudos, Sir Scott.

So, there you go...last week for me was a really inspiring one for me. Nothing like a great film to get you pumped for the next one!!!

Like the great Lloyd Kaufman says..."Lets make some art!"

Staying Scary,
Joe

8 Comments:

Blogger Daniel Hennessy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hennessy said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

1:31 PM  
Blogger Daniel Hennessy said...

hey joe

i saw your movie in nyc,
the crowd went loved it


i even bought it the next day, and showed it in this movie club at my school. Some kids actually left, because of the gore, but the people who stayed loved it. I got called into the office the next day though, and was told not to show anymore movies that involved such "graphic depictions of violence".


- Daniel Hennessy

1:31 PM  
Blogger sean said...

On THE MIST:
"the DP from THE SHIELD"
"with the amazingly seductive verite look of the film (with its doc-like zooms and sloppy focus)"

Oh no.
That was all SO distracting to me in THE SHIELD and one of the main reasons I couldn't get into the show.
I think the above technique is overstylized, as well as over used these days.

5:10 AM  
Blogger Joe Lynch said...

Daniel-
Sorry you got in trouble...believe me I spent many a time in the principal's office for my FANGORIA collection at school, but thanks for showing it and keeping the horror love alive! Screw School! (No, School is good, but your teachers suck)

Sean- Yeah I just saw THE CONDEMNED and feel the same way about employing "Shakes The Cameraman" on certain projects. I love Verite, but only if its used effectively....and THE MIST uses it so well, misex with the amazing sound design, actually makes you believe YOU ARE IN THE STORE. Its pretty accomplished stuff, and the more I think about it, the more I respect EVERY decision Frank made on this film. The more I let it sink inside my mind, the more I think its practically a perfect film. Hope you like it.

Staying Scary,
Joe

6:39 AM  
Blogger sean said...

Joe - Yeah that's actually very true man. Sound design used effectively with that style of shooting can seriously "work".
I mean hell, it's a Darabont film. It's pretty much a given it's going to be good good good if not great.

Now, to point out a Freudian slip...
Joe wrote "misex with the amazing sound design"

Um. You had sex with the sound design? IS THAT HUMANLY POSSIBLE!?! But I'm glad you found it amazing. A great sexual experience can really get the creative juices flowing...or the juices flowing creatively...er...or...uh...

5:44 PM  
Blogger giles edwards said...

HA! That's fantastic. I remember having the same experience at school (staid, UK public school mind you) with WAde Williams' "Midnight Movie Massacre" (of all things). tit's and brains do not a classical education make (it's quotes from Alexander the Great that does that, as every fan of Hans Gruber will know).

Congrats on "Wrong Turn 2"'s deserved success again, Joe. I told you it was fucking disgusting at Frightfest. It remains gloriously so.

And screw you Americans for getting that trio of greatness -- the UK has to wait a couple months for "The Mist" and "No Country...". "...Gangster"'s next week. Cannot wait. But then, I'm a "Hannibal" fan.

8:53 AM  
Blogger BC said...

Finally saw No Country... it's definitely their strongest film since Fargo by far (possibly even better), but I still love Blood Simple and Miller's Crossing the most. Not bad company to be in, however. The ending clearly divided the audience... there was a noticeable silence, as people were unsure to begin clapping, because their mind couldn't yet comprehend that that was IT. Love it.

Also I discovered I can't tell the difference between Javier Bardem and Ciarin Hinds.

8:35 PM  

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