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Mr. Robot: 409 Conflict (2019)
Wonderful and totally satisfying closure to a great, inventive, and timely series
The last 5 minutes of this episode are the best and most gratifying of anything I have seen for a long, long time. Enjoy this, the best episode of a must-see series. And this is coming from someone who can't watch 98% of anything on TV or in the theater and is often disappointed with the remaining 2% I witness. I'm looking forward to the rest of the closure in episode 10 but I am most confident it will not disappoint. So sorry to see so many great characters, performances, and story lines finally end but the best things are always limited and this ending is what makes the total scope of this series really great. If only real life were this good, then the vast majority of the world would be happy. And that is a very rare and marvelous thing indeed.
Great Closure for Jesse and Brings a Needed Dose of Humanity-and Reality-to a Classic American Horror Story
One of the things that made Jesse Pinkman in the series "Breaking Bad" so appealing was his peripheral presence in a series that was almost exclusively about Walter White. The element that I found lacking in "Breaking Bad" was the real depth of pain for every character besides Walter. The series was always about this relatively average, mild mannered middle aged man who, through financial necessity due to an expensive battle with cancer, evolved into a drug kingpin, being changed at a fundamental level far more by that than the cancer that was likely killing him. It was a very fascinating and intriguing story about someone, very much like the vast majority of us, making us contemplate how we would react if we became a gangster. It was great theater, fun to watch, and had excellent production and acting to enhance some excellent and clever stories. Yet, it left me lacking. It was a great series but not perfect.
This movie is great in two ways. One, it does give some real closure to Jesse, a slacker kid from high school who happens to stumble upon every stoner's dream but finds it is filled with and leads to very tragic circumstances. We are confronted with all of his horrors in painful but needed detail. It also fills in many blank elements of his history and, in certain fashions, makes his life the most compelling and sympathetic of all the "Breaking Bad" characters.
The second great element is that it lathers on the agonies, fears, humanity, and hopes of Jesse in a very saturated yet not overdone way. Anyone who has ever experienced real tragedy (which will eventually include all of us) and those who have witnessed it up close (ditto) will know that these elements can never be overdone if you're trying to compare them to the real, agonizing ones. Aaron Paul's performance is as good as any that earned him his well deserved emmys. This film will give you lots of food for thought, even personal reflections, and is worthy of repeated viewings to appreciate many of its well done elements.
It Will Grow On You Because That's The Way It Should Be
No matter how this movie was made it would always leave you wanting more just like the series did, which ended far too early. There were so many great stories and characters in the series that playing them out would not be possible to do in a completely satisfactory manner in a 2 or even 6 hour time span. That all said, this movie remains true in heart and soul to the fabulous series. After the credits roll you will find yourself not just wanting more but more in love with the characters and their stories than you felt before. There is some closure here, excellent closure that makes you feel quite good yet melancholy and curious, which is very much like a good life that has been well lived. Though it is not without painful tragedy - much like every single life story in its entirety - there is beautiful hope and that great rarity of true justice. Without naming any names, the truly despicable, heartless character, whose type is almost always untouchable in real life, gets a bit of well deserved justice, even if it would obviously be only a temporary phenomenon. What makes a movie great are fascinating characters that you care about, living intriguing moments you can witness, and leaves you thinking not only about what will happen next for them next but also how it reflects upon your own life, feelings, and experiences. Every real life has its share of harsh cruelty, moments of great love and tenderness, and leaves you wanting more for both those alive and those who are not. If it has been a great life, in the end you feel love, hope, and the possibility of real justice. Deadwood delivers this very well, which you will realize as its stories grow on you the more you think about it and when you view it again. Whether you loved and saw the series or not, don't pass this movie by. It offers the same satisfaction of a life well lived.
Chernobyl: Please Remain Calm (2019)
Yes, Please Remain Calm, No Matter How Extreme the Terror to do Otherwise!
Take a very, very close look at this marvelous example of accurate filmmaking and storytelling and ask yourself: do you want to ever live it or have your descendants live it?
It's very easy to dismiss what happened at Chernobyl as a result of the old Soviet regime which strenuously protected the party line regardless of any truth that contradicted it as the "core problem" to the situation. But look carefully at the facts. Do the same situations exist? Yes, nuclear power plant corporations and governments (often working hand in hand as in 2019 America), still exist. Do those in power do anything and everything to maintain their power? Rhetorical question where the answer is clearly "yes". Will accidents and disasters happen again? Absolutely. Everyone is human with all associated faults that have all happened before and will all happen again.
Watch "Chernobyl" for the pure enjoyment of excellent cinema but let its story and message resonate. Great filmmaking should not only entertain but make the viewer reflect on his/her reality and how the messages they gleaned apply to them. "Chernobyl" will do this painfully, starkly. That is, if you have the courage to see the horrors sitting (at the moment) quietly in your own backyard.
Superb episode of an outstanding mini-series.
A True Horror Story that is at once Historic and Prophetic
To paraphrase Stalin "One death is a tragedy, a million merely a statistic". And if those deaths are horrifying enough, more terrifying than anything you could possibly imagine, then you'll use every effort to reason it could never happen to you. From the beginning, "Chernobyl" is a gut punch that will immediately paralyze and terrify you. What's worse, is as long as there remain nuclear power plants, all with the same or even worse potential despite the best efforts to prevent such tragedy from happening, it will inevitably happen again, perhaps at many times and places. Whether it is due to earthquake, operator error, structural shortcomings, terrorist bombs, tsunami (Fukushima), or hundreds of other scenarios you can't possibly imagine in advance let alone prevent, remember this: it will happen again. Watch "Chernobyl", great filmmaking and storytelling that will probably be the worst and truest horror film you will ever see.
Sicario: Day of the Soldado (2018)
Extra Heavy on the BS, Hysteria and Totally Unnecessary
While the first Sicario was fairly well done, a somewhat believable look into the murders and assassinations surrounding and between the Mexican cartels, this film becomes utter nonsense from the opening scene. Since the attacks of 9/11 there have been zero terrorist attacks on US soil nor are there international plots to destroy you personally, along with other ordinary Americans shopping at a mall in the Midwest or some other relatively remote and internationally inconsequential American location. There's already enough wild exaggeration and nonsensical hyperbole being spouted by racists, ignorant nationalists, and paranoid hysterics regarding immigrants (which has been virtually everyone living in the US or their ancestors short of the Native Americans) to the point that moronic bullies run around yelling at and even attacking people for speaking a language other than English, which is in itself an immigrant language to America. The last thing we need is to have Hollywood making contrived movies about abject nonsense of terrorism that just doesn't exist. What is not needed is more fuel to the fire that the unhinged, the raging, and the willfully ignorant like to use as a half-baked excuse to be racists and/or people of violence. There's enough ignorance and staggering stupidity in America presently. Too many people too often feed into hysteria and dream of scenarios that never will exist of them being a target of some international plot of evil doers because it gives them an exaggerated sense of importance rather than being the relatively inconsequential and insignificant members of the boring masses. The good news is they'll never be attacked by Jihadi John here on American soil but the bad news is to be exceptional they'll have to put in all the hard work themselves to be so and it is not magically given to them by being American. People who are honest with themselves don't buy into nonsense and mythical stories. Unfortunately, there are a great number of those who are not and will happily buy this awful ridiculously contrived movie.
You Were Never Really Here (2017)
A Knight in Bleeding Armor
Joe, brilliantly underplayed by Joaquin Phoenix, is a man who has a long, nightmarish history of extraordinarily savage trauma. From an appalling, abusive childhood, to his career choices as a battle-weary soldier fighting in Afghanistan, as an FBI agent witnessing the worst of human trafficking (all brought to the screen via adeptly placed flashbacks), to his present occupation as an effective and brutal retriever of runaway, lost, and abducted young girls. Joe's life is one series of horrific events after another, each one capable of breaking and shattering many people beyond hope. There are times Joe seems hopeless himself, as he toys, fantasizes, and dreams of suicide, yet always drawn back into the world of life by those who need help, trying to bring hope.
The most significant person in Joe's life is his mother, who was either always a child emotionally and mentally or thrown back into the state by the ghastly abuse and torture at the hands of her husband. Despite what many are tempted into concluding, Joe's relationship with his mother is neither incestuous nor of any Oedipus/Freudian nature but rather is taking devoted care of his beloved mother whom he couldn't rescue as a young, terrified, brutalized boy. Joe's vicious, prolific physical scars were mostly from his monstrous father during childhood, as we see in flashbacks. But we don't see the acts that caused them, which is one of the film's best strengths, to omit material that makes the viewer's imagination uncomfortably inquisitive.
This movie is not for the faint of heart: merciless, ugly, savage, and doesn't deliver any possibility of happy endings for just about everyone involved. Yet, despite it's somewhat fantastical feel, it raises many important though savagely brutal topics and questions. Perhaps the most brutal person is Joe, as he wields a ball peen hammer - interestingly, a weapon of torture that had been used by his father - in ways that are excruciating, deadly, and without any hesitation when he deems necessary. Joe is nevertheless sympathetic, a man whose life has been a long, extraordinary horror and is doing his best to do something that is good, sometimes by being kind and tender, other times by murder. This film will make you uncomfortable, even when you think about it later as it is important and well done in its depiction of awful yet mundane horrors, nightmares that people survive, witness, and experience, sometimes with sublime hope.
Not excellent, but FANTASTIC and way, WAY too short.
If you have not watched this series from the beginning and truly relish that phenomenon of RARE, great theater, STOP HERE and please start from episode # 1 season # 1.
Please, let me qualify myself. I am a part-time actor, film maker, and true aficionado of exceptionally rare, truly great film. I am also that common herd whom you never hear about but will occasionally see small glimpses of: the classically or well-trained actor who delves into theater and/or film but often surrenders their beloved pursuit of their foremost, heartfelt passion due to the constraints of financial support to a spouse, children, or even merely themselves in the financially unstable, unforgiving world of show business. Nevertheless, the vast bulk of us often retain our love of great acting, theater, and productions, whether they be from the stage theater, movie theater, and/or television. Which brings us to this offering of "Deadwood" season 3, episode 12.
Let me put this way, from me who turns off (or walks out of) EVERY single movie, show, and theater production which does not capture me (reasonably quickly) in a unique, superlative way: do not watch this until you have seen the entire series leading up to it. I have seen enough and done enough to know what is of RARE, great quality and, therefore, worth watching; as well as what is worth watching in its entirety and what SHOULD be watched in full. Deadwood falls into this rare, superlative quality.
POSSIBLE (but non-plot oriented) SPOILERS AHEAD: Deadwood is an extremely uncommon show for American television because it not only tells the truth in an accurate and honest fashion but it allows great, high-quality theater to happen at the same time. Once you see this, after you have seen the preceding episodes, you will know a few things about truly great television, stage, and film theater, which include: how to turn a despised antagonist into a beloved protagonist; how to take a strong antagonist and turn him/her into a multi-faceted character that delivers their great, humane depth including their weaknesses and strengths that will add qualities to your love and simultaneous dislike for them, just like it does for those you know in "real life". Deadwood is great "real life" theater. Enjoy it for what it is and realize this was one of the very few RARE series that should have gone on for much, MUCH longer.
Kids for Cash (2013)
The Evil That is Destroying What's Left of the American Justice System
Take a good look at this film and be prepared to be shocked and angry. Very shocked and very angry, that is, if you believe in decency and justice. It's an intimate look at two judges who took bribes to send children to jail, often for non-existent crimes or for petty, relatively insignificant things kids do because they're kids. Some of these children committed suicide, the rest all had their lives ruined. And the sick punchline? The crooked judges don't see what they did as wrong but rather just "administrative decisions". Sure, the judges went to jail but I'm sure they just see that as an "administrative decision" as well. Look at them closely. They're faces of the banality of evil. Much like the Nazis operating the death camps during WWII, they justify their actions as merely methods of the time. One of the criminals portrayed, the pompously righteous Judge Ciavarella pretended to be a "law and order" judge when in fact he was a greedy sociopath, not much different than the death camp dentists who ripped the gold teeth from Jews for joyful profit.
But whatever you do, don't see this as an isolated incident that has been taken care of. It still exists today. Most Americans are oblivious to the Prisons for Profit system, the same system that was giving huge kickbacks to these judges to incarcerate children for greed. The real sick thing about this documentary? The Prisons for Profit not only still exist, they're bigger than ever. And the terrible punchline to this story? You likely won't ever hear about judges being arrested for getting kickbacks for sentencing children to jail anymore. Now they can legally own stock and have other financial interests in this Prisons for Profit system that is flourishing. The same prisons they sentence "offenders" to serve long, profitable sentences. The fastest growth industry in the last 30 years in America. And most Americans are still oblivious to it. Your legal system has been sold, America and the blood, sweat, tears, and lives of your children and others who shouldn't be jailed will continue to line the pockets of evil people like these two judges who only saw children as a way to make money, caring not for their ruined - and ended - lives.
Watch this and get angry, very angry. And start talking about the evil that is destroying what used to be a somewhat fair legal system. That is, if you care at all about justice and decency. And your country. And your fellow men, women and children.
Ratchet up the tension to excruciating.
Prepare to get your heart broke, prepare to get really ticked off and prepare to look forward to the next episodes. If you haven't seen it yet: do so as soon as possible. This is tension creating at its best. If you have seen it: you know what I'm talking about, it's painful yet like a horrific car wreck you can't help but look and be terribly haunted and disturbed by what you see. This is the episode, filled with many shocking and decidedly unpleasant twists, that finally pushed this series into the "great" category (one I reserve for very few). I can now forgive its sometime contrived moments in the past. Enjoy, this is turning into a real barn burner.
The House I Live In (2012)
"Free" Enterprise at It's Finest
What's really fueling this law and order hysteria and the draconian prison sentences for relatively minor, innocuous and even non-existent "crimes" is the extraordinarily profitable Prison for Profit system. What's interesting and extremely frightening is most Americans are oblivious to it. Combine this with a large number of the public being largely uneducated and on a continual sadistic hunt for scapegoats, those who profiteer on the modern day slave trade have a willing public as unwitting accomplices.
It's interesting the director, Eugene Jarecki, also did "Why We Fight", one of the best documentaries to expose the crimes being committed by the blood money Military Industrial Complex. The public is also largely oblivious to that evil profiteering monster and also happily supports it to the point it thinks murdering and dying for it is a good thing. Jarecki makes some of the most important and enlightening documentaries of today. It's an alarming shame and tragedy that the predominately ignorant and not very mentally healthy general public aren't watching them, let alone able to comprehend how it hurts everyone except the bank accounts of sociopathic "business" men and women.
Perhaps the common denominator is the same fuel that's driving half of the present day voters in the Presidential election: hatred and the eternal search for scapegoats. It would make an excellent documentary to tie these core driving forces together, a task I think Mr. Jarecki is capable of doing well. It probably won't make much of an impact beyond preaching to the choir but then again none of his other fine offerings have fared much better and those are still greatly appreciated by thoughtful and humane audiences.
Warning: The Following Film Contains Dangerous Truths and Will Lead to Rational Thinking and Outrage.
There are a variety of excellent films available that expose the idiocy, lies, hysteria and underlying self-serving and enormously profitable financial motivations behind drug prohibition in America, specifically the current War on Drugs, of which marijuana is the prime target. This is one of the best as it is one of the most comprehensive as well as nicely edited and thoughtfully produced.
This is not a stoner film, a statement of "I have a right to get to stoned and no one should infringe on this in and of itself", even though this is a perfectly valid argument if you believe at all in real freedom and the US Constitution. Rather, this is a documentary that exposes the horrific, astronomical price the US pays to continue the current marijuana prohibition.
Sadly, this film will be, for the most part, preaching to the choir. Few who have opposing views will watch it and be swayed to examine the fallacies within their belief system. Not because of the presentation or production value of the statements within the film, but rather man and woman's ability to continue to believe the most ridiculous and destructive foolishness regardless of the amount of overwhelming logic and reality that contradicts their beliefs. The billions of those who feverishly practice religions of intolerance and other faith/magic based beliefs as well as many of the horrific conditions in America presently, such as the record setting Prisons for Profit system and other tragedies are ample proof as to the idiotic self and other destructive nature of so-called humanity.
Watch this film anyhow, whether it outrages you or just is another piece of evidence as further proof of man's and woman's squandered opportunity to have a great society. It is quite well done and will provide you food for thought, that is if you dare to think.
We Own the Night (2007)
They must drink quite heavily at Cannes
The audience gave a standing ovation at Cannes for THIS? But I can understand if the audience was three sheets to the wind after a gala luncheon where the bubbly flowed prodigiously. For those of us who have ever had way too many happy refreshments during an exciting, fun filled party with lots of laughs, we know it's rather easy to end up falling in love with some pretty sad characters. Then comes the morning after, the headaches, stomachaches, and the REGRETS, especially when you look at your bed partner and wonder how your judgment got so bad and you swear, you'll never drink so much or be so stupid again. Did any of those who clapped so enthusiastically feel a little like this later, after more thoughtful reflection?
And what about the leads? Were they tipping the spirits a little heavy as they read this script and agreed to do this cliché filled, overly melodramatic, contrived vehicle? I certainly can believe they may have found it necessary to be half tossed just to be able to say the lame, predictable lines they had to speak. I kind of hope they were all in the bag as they filmed this, otherwise I will be forced to look rather dimly at the quality of decision making that Joaquin Phoenix, Mark Wahlberg and Robert Duvall make regarding the roles they choose. Is there such an enormous lack of good material they have to choose things like this? Perhaps they went in somewhat blindly, thinking if the others are in, it must be decent. I hope they're all not so busy and/or greedy for the cash that they'll go in without reading the script or despite it. Quite frankly, even those who are a little cock-eyed from too much libation would probably be able to see right through this lame material, no matter how much their vision blurred.
Granted it's attractively filmed and these respectable actors give respectable performances, but it's clearly material that is quite sub-par for the quality of the cast and production. What a waste.
A suggestion for those who attend Cannes in the future, stick to ginger ale, you'll feel substantially better the next day and won't have to feel embarrassed the morning after regarding how foolish you were the night before. Besides, you might spare others from having to sit through your recommendations who won't be drunk and will see bad date films such as this for what they are. As for me, what little credit I attributed to your opinion I will withdraw in the future, so you know when I recommend you stay sober I'm really offering you the suggestion strictly as a friendly bit of advice for your own good.
Brad and Juliette were quite good, unfortunately the movie itself was quite bad
For a start the writers needed to look up the definition of serial killer before they started because the main character that is referred to in all the bi-lines and plot summaries may be a murderous psychopath but he is not a serial killer. Killing more than one person does not make one a serial killer. Serial killers are driven by an obsessive psychotic fixation and kill people that tend to share specific characteristics, which may be physical, social, etc. Since there were two writers you would think at least one should know what he's talking about but unfortunately usually the more the writers in Hollywood the greater chance it's going to be bad. They were efficient in this movie, they were able to make a bad script with only two. It's not really nitpicking when discussing definitions because the basic ignorance of the writers also shows through in way too many other poorly conceived clichés and weak character motivations. It's a real shame really, because both Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis are excellent in their roles and they were the only reasons I was able to watch it through. But this lazy script and contrived story insults the performances and badly wastes their talent.
I liked David Duchovny in the X Files and really wanted him to have the substance and material to succeed on the big screen but either he unfortunately just doesn't translate well and/or has not gotten the script that'll be his break through role. He's passable here but his performance appears particularly flat and meek when he shares the screen with Brad, who really captured the red neck/trailer trash creep.
On the other hand, the character Michele Forbes played was not passable, and rather irritating. You know you're watching a film made from a poorly contrived script and a not particularly substantive performance whenever the female lead expresses herself strongly she always resorts to bitching. Since when is complaining a character strength? A strong character, male or female, needs to use intelligence and some semblance of emotional control to not only be likable but believable as someone capable. The cliché Hollywood, reflected way too often in this screenplay, almost always draws strong female leads as two dimensional at best, usually cutesy girls who think their physical appearance and using emotional blackmail whenever they need to "really express themselves" is enough. Maybe it's not solely the script to blame here, Juliette Lewis is superb here and her role in the hands of a lesser actress might have been as annoying as Ms. Forbes.
No point in listing spoilers to demonstrate how silly and not very credible the story is, just suffice it to say that it would be nice if Brad Pitt and Juliette Lewis get opportunities to work their acting chops on the characters they created in a substantially better film, because they're sadly wasted in this dog.
6 stars and every one of them are for the excellent Mr. Pitt and Ms. Lewis.
A Real Must See Movie
Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.
For those of you who have thoroughly educated yourselves about history, there is not really much new here. You already know about atrocities, including the concentration camps like the one depicted here in Mauthausen, Austria, which were nothing more than slaughterhouses for humans. But this really is not a documentary about a horrible period, place and people of the past that we can neatly define and conveniently cubby-hole as a historical event long ago while we pat ourselves on the back because we're so relieved we've advanced beyond such barbaric monstrosities. This is a documentary about a human condition that is still with us and being practiced this very moment as you read this, perhaps much closer to you than you'd care to admit.
The people that were murdered in Mauthausen are long gone and for the most part long forgotten, other than a reference to some categories we file them under "Russians" "Poles" "Jews" "children". As we think of a vague, generic picture of them (not too much in detail or else it becomes too painfully real and horrifying) we are mostly amazed how man's inhumanity to man could be so systematically orchestrated in such a cold blooded massive effort. This documentary is about the tourists and tour guides of Mauthausen and therefore, if you have the courage, ourselves. Starting with the chattering lively young kids who are shocked solemn the moment their young tour guide starts off immediately by explaining in careful detail life, torture and murder in the camp. The guide does not soften the blow of what happened or use sterile euphemisms, instead he leaves all the life, death, suffering and reality in as he explicitly details the murder and torture that took place. No one was disposed of in Mauthausen nor did unspeakable acts take place, instead they were murdered and the acts are openly detailed. The guides speaks vividly, frankly about their agony and deaths, as he walks the tourists through the same places these acts took place, discussing clearly what happened as they are crammed together in the gas chamber or facing the wailing wall or elbow to elbow in the barracks just like the prisoners who once lived their last moments as they were tortured and murdered there. This film shows a diverse selection of tourists from young international students to shocked elderly Germans and Austrians who never saw or fully admitted what was committed by their relatives, husbands, perhaps even themselves. Surprisingly the filmed responses by the tourists are extremely on target, particularly the young students many of whom say mankind is failing to learn from history because these same atrocities, perhaps in slightly different moderations and form, are going on today, right now. But then again, their responses are not so surprising. These people did not come here to go on a fun ride or eat a double cheeseburger, they came, for the most part, to look at an ugly piece of history and perhaps learn something about the human condition, maybe even themselves. Mostly they're the better part of the general public. The lesser part of the public that commit such acts, or allow them to happen or vicariously enjoy it when they do, usually will never go to such a place. But as one of the guides pointed out at one of the memorial plaques, a picture had been removed and someone has etched in a swastika in the marble. Either a prank in extremely bad taste or, probably more accurately, proof that genocide, war and mass murder are not likely to vanish any time soon.
Perhaps if we showed this film in every school everywhere it would be a start to reducing the frequency and degree of man's barbarism. With such a monumental effort being put into such horrific acts just think of what could be accomplished if that energy and force could be channeled into positive, life affirming deeds. This is a real must see movie. Shelve the blond bimbo parade or boyish shoot em up or whatever "must see" crap and watch this for a change. Change is completely possible here and now all you need is to make some positive moves toward change. Education is the necessary start, we must know who, where and what we are in order to do something about it.
This film was riveting from the beginning. There are very few films I watch in a single sitting as most are either not exceptional or real enough to be truly interesting. I do however wish the film had been edited better, it did lack a seamless flow that such an exceptional effort on such an important subject deserves. Nevertheless there are images I know will stick with me for quite some time. Particularly the young tour guide who so effectively, chillingly led his tour group through the camp and later admitted his grandfather had been an SS officer. As well, the head tour guide, who by his own admission was burned out and alcoholic, being eaten away by the pressure of working at such a place with so many ghosts and terrible karma. He reminded me of a policeman I knew who was all but destroyed by his job yet was inexplicably drawn to it, much like a moth to flame. An exceptionally chilling moment is when he points out that despite the vast size of the camp there are no animals or birds living there, even today. It is as though they can sense it is a place of death, even now. Perhaps these silly little creatures we like to pretend we're so vastly superior to really have a little more sense, and humanity, than we do at times.
Two Hours of Begging for Oscar
Capote seemed bent on presentation for presentation's sake, not trying to construct a picture as a stand alone work. I'm usually a fairly accurate judge of what I will like and dislike and so I had put off watching Capote because way too many people were buzzing about how hip Capote was. Usually whenever the general public talks about how hip or artistic something is they're discussing something that is a cliché, so familiar that it is hip in the cartoon sense, palatable for the general masses. Hardly something that is cutting edge or unique. Very much like the new sirloin burger at MacDonald's, not what I'd call real gourmet cuisine.
The main reason I decided to finally watch Capote was because I had watched Infamous one night a month or so back and was so pleased I watched Capote the next night. The first night I was left surprised and thinking, the next I was left sleepy and disappointed. Capote was so busy with trying to create atmosphere and style it never developed the characters with anywhere near the depth that Infamous did so briefly and elegantly. The solid character development in Infamous was due to much better casting all around as well as a much more alive script with rich, layered dialog. I was impressed by all the performances in Infamous, even the usually commercially thin Sandra Bullock who, sans make-up, appears as real and convincing as I've ever seen her. By the way, who did the singing for Gwyneth Paltrow? If it was her, she may have missed her true calling. Capote on the other hand, most (almost all) of the characters were presented as thin, stock characters used to push the story along, as well as manipulate your emotions and mostly to support the starring role of Hoffman. As a side note, I'm usually a big fan of almost all instrumental soundtracks but the repetitive piano chords replayed over and over in Capote, an obvious and flaccid attempt to create a gloomy, heavy mood, became a distracting annoyance after the umpteenth time. By the end of Capote I was bored and distracted and felt that the obvious attempt to manipulate me as an audience member failed. I also felt detached and uninterested in all the characters, nothing had happened to give me a sense of their unique humanness or that most of them were real. Infamous on the other hand, I found to be one of the most intriguing and touching love stories I have seen in quite a long time. I happen to be a straight male who usually sees most theatrical (and public) displays of love as false, unconvincing and badly clichéd. Toby Jones and Daniel Craig were both very much alive and the love they created fascinating. And though they were of characters that I would not think I could find so interesting and feel so much for, a psychotic criminal and a gay society party boy, I was nevertheless quite touched by their love and seriously saddened by its tragedy. I was finally able to realize very clearly after Infamous why Truman Capote slowly self destructed after writing "In Cold Blood". It did the job of top notch cinema and art, it changed my perspective on many points. To paraphrase the Perry Smith character from Infamous, it had the most important element to writing and a great story and which Capote lacked: kindness.
Granted, Mr. Hoffman does give an admirable performance in Capote but it's just that: a performance. He appears to be acting. To me the essence of great casting is to find someone who so fits the character they really don't need to act. Great acting should never be obvious, it should be invisible. Toby Jones was a much more accurate fit and gave a much more natural (and therefore believable) performance as the real Truman Capote than Philip Seymour Hoffman working so hard to act like Truman Capote.
Capote was not bad but a bit of a moody disappointment, much like it's repetitive soundtrack, striking one chord over and over again in an overdone, calculating fashion. Infamous, on the other hand, was not only surprisingly more entertaining, richer and alive but I think a more accurate picture of the real Truman Capote than the rather one sided, coldly brooding version in Capote. If Mr. Capote were so cold blooded and ruthless I hardly think he would have been the darling of high society everywhere. Capote was adored by the party jet set everywhere when he was still happy and living life with such glee. And even though he could be a vicious gossip and somewhat of a backstabber he still had a tremendous charm and real affection for others, otherwise it's quite doubtful he would have had so many devoted friends. In Capote the charm and affection for others is just not there, certainly not as it is in Infamous, which paints a more human and humane picture of Mr. Capote.
It's true that "In Cold Blood" led to Truman's deterioration. If you want to see the underpinnings that were responsible for zapping his life away I think you'll find Infamous to be more accurate as well as a much more enjoyable motion picture experience.
Sweet and Lowdown (1999)
Wonderful Movie about Love, Genius and Great Jazz Guitar Playing
As Woody Allen said of Sean Penn after working with him on this film "(Sean's) a tremendous actor". And he displays his tremendous talent in playing the role of Emmett Ray, jazz guitarist, a genius at his craft, rather a disastrous dope in all other aspects of his life.
Then there's Samantha Morton who is brilliant in her portrayal of sweet, adorable Hattie, a cute mute young woman whose simple needs and wants, along with her lack of narcissism and inability to spew out mind numbing volumes of bulls+t banter obscure her deep strength and savvy intelligence. Those that value pure, sweet, unassuming kindness will find her irresistibly lovable.
Emmett only really knows one thing, how to play guitar like no one else in the world, with the exception of the one person he idolizes to the point of hysteria: Django Reinhardt. He's obliviously inept at just about everything else in his life, especially his feelings, to the point where he doesn't know real, rare, wonderful love when it's right next to him. Sean is able to make Emmett so very likable, even in his worst of behavior. He excels at what he does best, bringing real human depth and qualities to his craft that exceptionally few actors are or have been capable of doing.
This film is much like the character of Hattie, deceptive in its initial appearance and of a substantially better quality than you may first think. It seems like a light, cute little story largely due to its entertaining presentation and lack of dramatic pretense but there is significant texture and reality to this work of art. Emmett is perhaps the greatest guitar player in America and has so many of the essential ingredients for huge success: drive, ambition, presentation, wardrobe, personality, yet he tends to sabotage himself frequently and never gets the lucky break needed to put him at the top. True he could probably do rather well if he didn't p+ss away such volumes of cash but he never gets the type of success that the best supposedly deserve and is so wrought with money it won't disappear in the most extravagant lifestyles.
Emmett also makes the tragically universal mistake of believing bullsh+t, both his and society's. He thinks the money and possessions and trophy girlfriends are what happiness are all about. His one saving grace is his love and respect for his craft but can this alone keep him from making a disaster of his life? He discovers all too painfully that the beautiful woman with the sophisticated, witty repartee, whom all the other men drool over, has an extremely high price tag of impenetrable, cold blooded narcissism. And though Emmett acts for the most part like a shallow dope, trying to hide and deny that besides being a genius he is a painfully sensitive man in desperate need of sweet, nurturing love, he still makes way too many foolhardy decisions. He is blind to the fact that the women who use sweetness merely as a tool of manipulation are the last thing he, or anyone else with a shred of decency, need or deserve.
This is a great film and story and you can also enjoy a very pretty picture of life in the 1940's while you watch it.
Apparently there was an obscure jazz guitarist named Emmett Ray but even if there wasn't, this is not really a fictionalized account. Certainly not in the sense of capturing the essence of character, love and genius. As he has done so marvelously before and since, Woody Allen masterfully captures an immensely watchable slice of life that most of us will only have an opportunity to witness with this fine offering. For the film itself as well as the two stellar leads this is will go into my relatively short list of wonderful, favorite films.
Where the Truth Lies (2005)
HELP! Hollywood's in desperate need of good writers!
One of the most pleasant surprises in movie watching is to see a film you've heard nothing about and discover what a marvelous gem it is. I had that experience with "The Sweet Hereafter", an exceptionally well made movie that was wonderful in many aspects: spot-on acting, artistically beautiful cinematography, flawless directing, and a practically perfect screenplay adapted from an outstanding, important book written by a top shelf author. I liked "The Sweet Hereafter" so much that I've put on my eventually-must-watch-list any other work from the actors that were in it as well as the director, Atom Egoyan. Sadly, so far, no other work by any of them is even in the same ballpark. That's usually quite common when you discover a cinematic masterpiece, very few directors, actors, et al, are ever involved in a great film and if they are it's often just the one and they spend the rest of their careers trying to find another one to match but to no avail. I thought "Ararat" was good but no where near up to par with "The Sweet Hereafter". Okay, so the material's not quite the same quality, let's see what else Mr. Egoyan has done, surely a man who can direct a great, powerful film will eventually put out something that I will find a great cinematic experience. Coppola followed "The Godfather" with the best "sequel" of all time "The Godfather 2" and the mind blowing "Apocalypse Now". Atom Egoyan's got to make something else that's exceptional, right?
Which leads to one of the more unpleasant experiences in movie watching, after discovering a great film, you're never able to find anything remotely of the same merit from the directors, actors, etc. involved. Sometimes it's even a terribly foul piece presented for your cinematic palate, such as "Where the Truth Lies". Do you ever watch a movie and it starts to deteriorate until you end up angry for having wasted your time? Or worse, walked in with high expectations only to be slapped in the face with idiotic drivel? This is one of those films. No matter how great a chef is he can't make great cuisine from dog sh+t. It won't even be edible.
Who wrote this contrived, unrealistic crap? It didn't start off bad, there was even an element that was interesting, where the telethon was just a phony scam for the mob to cash in. But it was right about then that the movie rapidly descended into a very stupidly unrealistic place. What is necessary for really good writing is for the writer to do material he/she knows. What is usually an element of really bad writing is when it so obviously is a thinly contrived piece that is about a subject matter the author knows nothing about but naively thinks they can make it up as they go along and it won't be obviously obtuse. And it doesn't even have to the situation or subject matter itself that the writer needs to be an expert on but rather on character, how people act in a specific situation. When your credibility allowance gets strained as you see a character behave in a way you know is childishly unrealistic it's bad enough but when the other supposedly savvy, worldly characters are attracted to her infantile behavior you know you're watching a real turd transforming.
And this female lead, Alison Lohman, is just plain awful. If this is the extent of her acting ability she'd be wise to save every cent of every paycheck because she'll need it all when her fleeting youth and beauty fade. I know Hollywood and its satellites prefer to use pretty young girls as much as possible, even in place of women; but why does it insist on putting them in places where they would have no business in the real world? At least not behaving the way they do in awful films like this one, preening narcissists who haven't the vaguest clue about anything other than their self centered demands. Sure the world likes to look at pretty young women/girls but usually only sexually insecure boys of various ages will consistently tolerate their infantile emotional demands. That is up until they can finally get a taste of their guarded fruits and most will then realize it's hardly worth the price to continue to be the emotional whipping boy of a nasty narcissist.
There are enough really bad and mediocre films (the vast majority actually) out there that I usually try and forget them as quickly as possible, without wasting any time with a comment. The only reason I chose to mention this soon to be forgotten piece is that Mr. Egoyan is capable of vastly much, much better work. I know it's in him, I've seen the results when he excels. He just needs to be patient and use some decently written material. Maybe Russel Banks could offer up one of his fine novels that has yet to be tapped for film. They did a great, nay fantastic adaptation before together. If not, anyone know any way to sneak a decent piece of writing into Hollywood? I hear they have The Bad Writing Patrolmen who usually only allow the worst crap to get through. If you wonder about this just chose just about any film at random to prove my point.
Infamous and Capote: A Comparison
Perhaps I should say Yet Another Comparison. I just watched Infamous last night and was so pleased I watched Capote tonight. Last night I was left surprised and thinking, tonight I was left sleepy and disappointed. Capote was so busy with trying to create atmosphere and style it never developed the characters with anywhere near the depth that Infamous did so briefly and elegantly. The solid character development in Infamous was due to much better casting all around as well as a much more alive script with rich, layered dialog. I was impressed by all the performances in Infamous, even the usually commercially thin Sandra Bullock who, sans make-up, appears as real and convincing as I've ever seen her. By the way, who did the singing for Gwyneth Paltrow? If it was her, she may have missed her true calling. Capote on the other hand, most (almost all) of the characters were presented as thin, stock characters used to push the story along, as well as manipulate your emotions. As a side note, I'm usually a big fan of almost all instrumental soundtracks but the repetitive piano chords replayed over and over in Capote, an obvious and flaccid attempt to create a gloomy, heavy mood, became a distracting annoyance after the umpteenth time. By the end of Capote I was bored and distracted and felt that the obvious attempt to manipulate me as an audience member failed. I also felt detached and uninterested in all the characters, nothing had happened to give me a sense of their unique humanness or that most of them were real. Infamous on the other hand, I found to be one of the most intriguing and touching love stories I have seen in quite a long time. I happen to be a straight male who usually sees most theatrical (and public) displays of love as false, unconvincing and badly clichéd. Toby Jones and Daniel Craig were both very much alive and the love they created fascinating. And though they were of characters that I would not think I could find so interesting and feel so much for, a psychotic criminal and a gay society party boy, I was nevertheless quite touched by their love and seriously saddened by its tragedy. I was finally able to realize very clearly after Infamous why Truman Capote slowly self destructed after writing "In Cold Blood". It did the job of top notch cinema and art, it changed my perspective on many points. To paraphrase the Perry Smith character from Infamous, it had the most important element to writing and a great story: kindness.
There are some movies and documentaries that after someone watches them and you see their reaction you can get a good view of their humanity, or the tragic lack of it. "Sicko" is a documentary you should include on that list. I felt and experienced a lot of things when watching Sicko: anger, sadness, incredulous disbelief, sometimes even hopelessness. When you've lived enough substantive years to have seen a significant amount of social change and have been courageous enough to not only critically analyze society but yourself, your own weaknesses and failings, you are always a little shocked at the lack of enlightenment and humanity in others, even in your most cynical moments.
The U.S. health care system is driven by unconscionable greed, has been for quite some time, from the pharmaceutical industries, to the corporate hospitals, to the medical supply companies, to way too many greedy doctors who have forgotten or never really believed in the Hippocratic Oath, and too many others ad nausea. Quite frankly the world has been driven by greed throughout history and still is today but just because most are doing something does not make it right. If everyone believed that there truly would be no hope for homo sapiens, we'd only remain slightly advanced apes using narcissism and mythical beliefs to justify the most egregiously brutal behaviors. (All committed with your god's blessing naturally.) But there are those who want more than just a smash and grab world, who really want a kind and decent society not just a lot of excuses why we can't do it right now. There must be those who are courageous enough to rise above the cruel and ugly status quo. This courage is what allows people like Mahatma Gandhi, Oscar Schindler and other really beautiful persons to exist in the sea of hideous what's-in-it-for-me beasts. Without the Gandhis and Schindlers in this world (and those who have the courage and humanity to replace the unjust and cruel with the kind and considerate) we would not be making progress towards a better world. Albeit moving painfully slow at times, even with some tragic steps backwards, we still must press on for a kinder, better world. Live it, not just say the words while we rob our neighbors and bomb our supposed enemies, being ever so careful not to catch a glimpse of that hideous reflection we might see looking back at us in the mirror.
I can sort of understand the greedy rich that are driven by more greed for more money they don't really need or will ever use. Most of them sold their humanity for cheap so long ago they really have nothing else but cold, heartless cash to measure their worth. I certainly don't envy them and would much rather live in a cardboard box than the biggest mansion in the world if that meant being as dead inside as I think many of them are. But what I am always puzzled by is those of much more limited means who eat the meals of greed and fear fed to them by the avarice powers that be. So be it, it is hard to rid ourselves of our fears and admit we're all human and share the same weakness. The difference is just whether we chose to cave in to our weaknesses and fears as we see most around us do or to be courageous enough to buck the ugly norm and show more kindness to others than they show us.
It would be fantastic and a great moment of celebration to see America turn away from scapegoating, victim blaming and general mean spiritedness to a place that is more like what the politicians and others claim it to be, a leader of civilization. I am saddened to see my country fall to such low levels and be stuck in the old feudal system in so many ways including health care. If you said that the poor and struggling working class don't deserve police protection or a response from the fire department when their house in on fire or they're being beaten by some savage everyone other than the sadistic and sociopaths would laugh at you. But that's the way it used to be not so long ago for those social services we take for granted when we were living in feudal times. Shouldn't the most advanced health care be available for all in a truly civil society, not just a luxury for the wealthy? For a nation of so called Christians, it'd be nice to see Americans living like Christ rather than using his effigy to beat others over the head. Wasn't it Christ who said how you treat the lowest among you is how you treat him?
Sicko is not only a great documentary, by far Michael Moore's best, it's also an excellent health tool. You can use it to see if you have a healthy heart.
Blood Diamond (2006)
I didn't know this was the same director who did "Thirtysomething" until after I saw this film. Now it's obvious he's still doing the same material only with bigger budgets and pricier actors. I like DiCaprio very much, I think he has a lot of talent and is developing into quite a fine actor. I wished he hadn't done this one though. I don't know if the writing was just so badly clichéd, lifeless and tedious or if this was a character not within his range. Certainly the former is true: the writing sounds like a smugly self righteous thirty-something American who feels somewhat guilty for his good fortune in this mostly unfortunate world and tries to alleviate his guilt by preaching about some of the evils in Africa and how he has brilliantly realized the solution to these evils comes down to a simplistic little step we can all do here and now. Of course being a sheltered, usually very self absorbed thirty-something kid his insights and solutions are naively simplistic and unrealistic. The situation this film is based on is very complex and the problems are so entrenched due to so many differing factors that a cute, neat happily-ever-after Hollywood solution won't work no matter how much wishing and believing we want to do. As well, every time DiCaprio did the white African accent I had to wince a little because it sounded just slightly off key enough to not seem natural.
I suppose I should mention Jennifer Connelly but after a few seconds with her character I kept turning away from the film and thinking of other things. She was so badly unrealistic as the savvy, seasoned reporter with her sophomoric self righteous indignation that she seemed to have been an irate and grotesquely self indulgent customer who was plucked from Macy's as she was raging at some poor clerk because the right shade of drapes aren't available that she "absolutely needs" because they go with her new carpet and is now doing this tirade in the middle of Africa in the place of some reporter. Her character seems better fitted for a "Twilight Zone" twist than anything resembling a reporter who has ever slept in a place worse than a Holiday Inn. (Ugh! Heavens no!)
Djimon Hounsou gives the only credible performance of the three main characters but even he can't save this smugly false vehicle from crash burning into a pile of toxic clichés. Perhaps my sights were too high, I had really enjoyed "The Constant Gardner" and felt everything worked very well in that slice of the exploited life in one of the way too many unfortunate places in Africa. But this was no Gardner, not even a part time one. This wasn't even a decent "save the children" ad: at least the solution they offer may have some real merit, while this one was dreamed up by a detached arm chair observer who has come up with their solution by scanning page six of the Times and catching the tail end of a documentary or two. Like the solution for world peace given by a young beauty contest candidate, it has a lot of nice sounding words and phrases but it's nevertheless just a few cute platitudes that have no real practical value.
Edward Zwick is way over his head here. I'd appreciate it if he'd stick to another "thirty-something" venture. Those projects I can clearly see from far away are things I can avoid so as not to have my intelligence insulted by a smugly self righteous and self absorbed preacher who thinks he has all the brilliant solutions to all the problems and lives he hasn't the vaguest real knowledge of beyond what he's caught in a National Geographic article and thinks by looking carefully at the accompanying pretty pictures he can figure it all out.
A Typical Hollywood Serial Killing
Yup, they did it again. Between the sanitized ending: agent Starling became a cannibal in the book but is an unconvincing righteous crusader in this turkey (an essential and main theme the author uses throughout his books is what makes a truly great detective is their ability to think and be somewhat of the same cloth as those they hunt) and the miscast Julianne Moore who really stinks up the scenes with her phony flat floundering; Hollywood has killed another serial. Sir Anthony gives a fine performance with the flawed material he was given and Gary Oldman and Ray Liotta and some others are all excellent but they cannot keep this vessel from missing the mark completely. Once again the Hollywood execs involved with this have kept their jobs by hiring all the "right" people, so even if it had bombed at the box office they could claim they were not responsible because they hired all the "right" people. Unfortunately not enough of them were the right ones for this specific job. Besides one of the essential leads being a terrible and inappropriate choice, Ms. Moore, the integral story changes were idiotically formulaic, essentially burning all the bridges for thought the author had built and that had been kept intact in "The Silence of the Lambs" movie. Did Mamet REALLY write this? Or is he just the writer of record and it was destroyed by too many cooks (other writers) fooling around with the recipe? Why does Hollywood always do this? If a theme is "too dark" or "too depressing" do a different film for chrissake. Don't destroy the heart of something to make it more palatable for the bland masses. Hey I have an idea, instead of Dr. Lecter being a serial killer let him be a man who likes to eat lots of CEREAL. Yeah, that way you can make this into a cartoon for kids on Saturday morning too! Think of the marketing possibilities, tying it in with Cheerios or how about LIFE cereal? Wow, maybe the studio execs missed their chance to REALLY cash in. Shhhh, very quietly now, don't repeat this, otherwise the remake they do because they're all too cowardly to try a real new theme but instead rehash proved "box office" that they "rewrite" for the masses will be worse than what I just said.
Ted Bundy (2002)
Serial killers are a fascinating lot, often higher than average I.Q. yet nightmarishly demented and unreasonably, fatally psychotic. But even in this rare, exceptionally horrifying group Ted Bundy stood out as one of the most terrifying. He was exceptionally bright with a disarming charm and, at times, gentlemanly courtly manner. He had been such an actively bright rising star as a campaigner in the Republican party in Washington that there was quite a number of seasoned insiders who thought he might one day be governor or even something higher. Almost everyone that knew him personally thought him such a likable normal kind of guy they were completely shocked when he was accused of being a serial killer (the phrase serial killer initially gained international attention by being used to describe Ted Bundy). Most still disbelieved he was capable of such monstrosities until the evidence that was presented to the public just became too overwhelmingly condemning that underneath his seemingly sophisticated, suave veneer was a psychopathic monster capable of unimaginably gruesome torture, murder, necrophilia, and blood lust.
Granted this is an enormously difficult task to do well, present Ted Bundy as he really was, extreme dichotomies that are all fascinating and richly full of complex character. I would say that all those involved in making a top quality and realistic version of Ted Bundy's life would be performing one of the most difficult tasks in their life. It would require thoughtful, exemplary writing, superb direction, and, most importantly, the performance of a lifetime. Mark Harmon did a very reasonable job (and his best work) in a TV version of Ted's life but even in the extreme confines of television, with its running editorial censoring of anything remotely unseemly, Mark reported that the job took a great deal out of him and was even a little unraveling. To say the least, an unabashed version of Ted Bundy's life done exceptionally well would be a fantastic career highlight for any actor but could very easily also completely drain him spiritually and/or psychologically, perhaps to an appreciably career ending artistic degree.
However that's no excuse for this offering. It isn't bad or idiotic, like a recent "documentary" that claimed Mr. Bundy's pathology could be simply attributed to a fascination with pornography. That was merely disingenuous, simplistic nonsense with an obvious agenda not related to Mr. Bundy at all. (The pornography defense was also Ted's last, desperate grasp to avoid electrocution.) No, this film really does try to be honest and accurate but it frankly falls far short. Ted is drawn way too simplistically, as a cheap petty thief, who was a masturbating peeping tom who just got carried away into murder somehow. The real life Ted was much more extremely complex, sophisticated, and monstrously devious. Us normal folk vastly pale in comparison to his complexities, so it is an extremely difficult tale to tell effectively. Volumes have been written about Ted Bundy but he was so complex, charming, gruesome, etc. etc. that it all still does not fully tell his tale nor describes who he was. It is estimated he may have killed over 100 women; so much is still unknown and probably will never be known about his dark, horrifying secrets.
They try in this movie but Ted Bundy was much more interesting and deeply disturbed and complex than we see here. Perhaps it's really not possible to capture him as he was but I think there must be a team of writer, director and actor who with the right artistic brooding and accurate factual research could pull it off. I keep waiting for a great film about this intricately fascinating man, one that would make Anthony Hopkin's Lecter pale because this one is real and more complex and deceiving. It's easy to write Ted Bundy off as a nut case, it makes us feel better and safer that way, plus it's how most of us saw him, as he was unraveling at the end. But he was no simplistic nut case, and a great movie about him as he really was completely would be the stuff of great nightmares for us all. I keep waiting....
The Brown Bunny (2003)
Looking forward to seeing this one
At the very least this must have something to it if it offends and angers so many people. Usually you have to hit a few resonating chords to get the number of livid responses I've seen to this film. It may not be pretty or even particularly entertaining but it at least must have some truth to it. Another compelling reason to watching this movie is what I refer to as the Ebert Indicator: if Roger Ebert likes a film I tend to be skeptical of it; if he REALLY hates a film I know it must have something going for it. I had read that he gave this film a scathing review, so now I'm intrigued to see it. Ebert is the same reviewer who called "The Year of the Woman" a.k.a. "I Spit on Your Grave" the "worst film ever made". I saw that film recently and it was a joke, seemingly put together by amateur high school boys. The so-called "brutal" rape scene was absurdly silly, as were the "horrible" revenge scenes. It's a film you can't take even remotely seriously, a silly farce of a movie, more cartoon than movie, something you laugh at for its hackneyed attempts. Ebert said he hated the film because it made him feel "unclean, ashamed and depressed". Doesn't take much to rock his world, does it? I guess I should be more understanding, from his response I can only surmise as a child he must have been traumatized by the violence in the Road Runner cartoons, so he must be some sort of tragic victim or whatever label he would borrow from the latest (and deep) People magazine socially conscious raising trend. Ebert, along with others, also accuses Vincent Gallo of narcissism. What? In show business? How is that possible? Show me someone who ISN"T a narcissist in show business and I'll show you a liar, even Mr. Smugly Arrogant himself, Mr. Roger Ebert. Oh, I see, Vincent doesn't have the right bullsh+t veneer to his narcissism that these pot calling the kettle black hypocrites have, that socially acceptable phoniness that is so pandemic the People magazine worshiping masses believe their own oft repeated lies that claim their obvious narcissism doesn't exist. I guess the emperor isn't the only one running around naked, the vast majority of the pea brained masses are also running around sans attire but it's so unsightly for the most part that everyone is averting their eyes and telling themselves they and their friends are all wearing the most handsome suits.
I think people are attacking this film mostly because they dislike Mr. Gallo for the unconscionable crime in that he doesn't pull punches when he talks about his general disdain for others and this trait is always apparent in his work, as I heard it was supposedly in this. Again, the unpardonable crime he's committing is that he isn't disingenuous in the presentation of his motives and feelings: if he wants most people to accept him more he needs to be a liar like most of them are.
I saw "Buffalo 66" and have to admit the first viewing I was put off by the lack of supplication and apology his character had when it came to his constant anger and scorn he had for others, even his supposed best friends. But the movie really stuck with me and I found his character more and more intriguing enough to view it a couple more times. I grew to like the guy and I realized why I didn't at first: he was your average person in many ways except naked, seen in a way that only those who are uncomfortably close experience. That film had an honesty very few films have, even the so-called independent features out today. I liked his character not because he was a restless bastard but because he was real. Just like we like our friends in real life who are sometimes, or often, or even always restless bastards. That is, if you have some real, honest friends and not just a bunch of the terminally full of sh+t trendy lemming friends.
OK, so this isn't a real review of "The Brown Bunny", as I obviously have not seen it. But I'll bet you I'll like it when I do. I think, at the very least it will have something going for it: honesty. That really seems to be thing that makes most others rage so, it certainly isn't mediocre or even terrible garbage; otherwise there would be a whole lot more interesting films out there than the foul sea of repetitious phony formulaic crap that is presented constantly and packaged as entertainment or, god forbid, art.
"The Brown Bunny" has a lot going for it already and so I'm looking forward to when I do finally sit down to watch it.
Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
A Film for the Gourmet
You won't find any fluff in this production. No empty filler, meaningless beyond its superficial appeal for the shallow, short attention span crowd. What you will find is a marvelously constructed film that will be appreciated and admired by a mature and serious audience, particularly those who are hungry for a substantial gourmet meal in a sea of cheap, seemingly endless junk food. This is one of those rare moments in a production when every role, from actor to editor, was filled by just the right person. If anyone is a serious student of acting, film making, or play production you can't ask for a better study tool than this film. Every actor was perfect for his role, even Kevin Spacey, who I always find has a contrived "acting" undertone to his work but that quality is perfect for the tight a*sed character he plays. And what can you say about the other roles other than brilliant, certainly these performances all rank among the top of each actor's resume. This is also David Mamet's best play, the most tightly written, polished and textured. He is certainly the serious actor's writer, no one writes more textured and honest characters using real dialog that fits together like an intricate, well oiled machine. My only complaint with him, though, is when he directs. He has said that the actor is only there to "read the lines as written", claiming all the emphasis of any production should be based on the writing. Well as you can clearly see elsewhere, great writing can get butchered by a bad production and many a so-called great films have just been great executions of mediocre scripts. Overvaluing the writing (or any specific element) can be a big disservice to other aspects of a production, in this case the acting. James Foley did a marvelous job, rehearsing over and over again until the end result was the beautifully polished performances you see here. It's really a disappointment to not see him do any other film adaptations of Mamet's work to date, clearly this is his best work and the best adaptation of Mamet's as well. What a shame there has been no more further films with this paring. The editing and soundtrack are also brilliant, giving us a rare treat, a masterpiece that stands up under repeated viewings and clearly will over the years to come. This is one of the best constructed films you will ever watch.