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I watch movies. On DVD, at the theater, via cable TV. Sometimes I want people to know what I think about the movies I watch, regardless of whether or not they care. I promise I will make my reviews short, but I won't be ashamed to throw around cliches like "beautiful cinematography" and "post-modern irony," so be warned.

Friday, November 16, 2007 :::

No Country for Old Men

Why I saw it: I heart the Coens.

What I think about it: The Coen brothers have been faltering as of late, in my opinion. Their last couple of movies kind of sucked pretty hard. This movie is an obvious return to form and a throwback to their old post-modern-noir thriller days, which can only be considered a good thing, even if it seems to lose its way toward the end. The first two thirds of this movie involve a drug deal gone bad and the subsequent chase between the opportunist who finds the cash and the insane madman on his trail. And it's about as intense as anything you've ever seen in a theater for nearly one and a half solid hours. Then something strange happens: rather than capitalize on all the tension and suspense they have worked so hard to build up, the Coen brothers apparently decided to avoid any sort of tension release or climax and let the air out of the balloon with a whisper rather than a pop. Therefore, I can't decide if the final third of this movie was a disappointment or something a non-conformist like me should applaud. It may serve the story to end the movie without resolution, and it might adhere more properly to the point of Cormac McCarthy's book on which it was based to move into more cerebral territory, but I have to admit that I wanted more out of the climax of No Country for Old Men. I wanted a showdown. I wanted a resolution. I wanted a bang. What I didn't want was some pseudo-intellectual pointless pondering about fate and circumstance and the nature of evil. But I guess it doesn't matter what I want. Regardless, it was hardly a disappointment. Instead, it was a fascinating, brutal, and intense way to spend two hours in a theater.

On a more nerdy film-lover note: the production, direction, and acting in this movie were unarguably brilliant. We'll be hearing a lot more about it come award season.

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::: posted by dan at 5:44 PM :: #

Michael Clayton

Why I saw it: Good reviews.

What I think about it: I'm not sure what I was expecting, but this "corporate thriller" about a desperate man who finds himself in the middle of some pretty tame corporate warfare, is more a character study than a thriller. I suppose it builds up a fair amount of tension solely by moving at a glacial pace for the first half, but it never exactly thrills. They obviously tried to cheat a tad and add some much needed excitement to the first couple of reels by shifting time and moving up a dramatic explosion to the opening segment, but this doesn't really serve to add anything to the story that follows. Fortunately, the tale being told was intriguing enough to keep my interest, and the final confrontation felt good in a cathartic release kind of way. And it's always refreshing when a director eschews melodrama and cliche for some straight-forward character examination and a brooding mood. So I'd say this is a worthwhile film to view in the comfort of your own home, especially since it's got the same style and vibe as a really good Law & Order episode (original series, obviously, none of that SVU stuff).

Oh, and I heart Tilda Swinton in ANYTHING.

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::: posted by dan at 5:36 PM :: #


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