March diary, better late than never, with thoughts on each movie viewed in March 2015 and links leading you to my review posts.
Blue Ruin (2013). Much hyped neo-noir which was indeed gripping and fascinating but ultimately too nihilistic and a downer for my taste. Macon Blair does fantastic work in his role as the devastated young man of very few words, who lives homeless, friendless and aimless until he hears his purpose in life, his opportunity for vengeance has arrived– the man who murdered his parents and ruined his life is being let out of prison. Blair very quickly cleans up, tracks down the man he’s after, and knifes him in a gas station restroom. He then goes back home and tells his sister what he’s done. But the violence and pain has only just begun. Blair has to live with the consequences, and now his victim’s family is coming after him. The killing predictably snowballs in the back and forth involving several family members, self-defense, preemption and an insatiable desire for vengeance on all sides. As one character says, it’s no longer right, just ugly. Blue Ruin is a very good movie, it’s smart, good looking, well acted, well made, and makes powerful points, but it just didn’t grab me emotionally. I wasn’t put off at all by the extremely graphic violence because that serves the realism and effectively conveys the message that killing is nowhere as easy to carry out or get over, as it looks in other movies. It was the unrelenting bleakness and hopelessness of it that was so sad and off putting. You get to like this decent but devastated man whose life is ruined, and then watch his life destroyed completely when he seeks justice his way. Evil wins.
Erased (2012). Meh, another twist on Taken’s “spy father with distant or endangered daughter” dynamic, this time with Aaron Eckhardt. There’s a conspiracy to, guess what: “erase” him, and there’s Olga Kurylenko as an agent with flexible loyalties.
In Bruges (2008). Rewatch. I’m a big Colin Farrell fan and I think this is his best role. He’s one of two hitmen, Brendan Gleeson being the other, who are sent by their boss Ralph Fiennes to go hide out in Bruges, Belgium, after Farrell accidentally kills a child in a hit gone wrong. Gleeson intends to make the best of the stay and delights in taking in the medieval sights, museums and culture. Farrell is like a bored kid who has zero interest in old buildings and whose idea of excitement is a good bar and a date with the girl he meets at a film shoot. As they wait for details on their next hit, we learn that Gleeson is a wise and kind older mentor figure while Farrell’s rude and flip exterior covers that he’s tortured by his mistake and sees no point in living. When Fiennes’ instructions finally come, the intended hit surprises everybody. The job can’t be done and the defiance brings an angry Fiennes to Bruges, which leads to a funny, chaotic chase through this beautiful setting on a winter’s night, and unpredictable, terribly sad yet somehow inevitable endings given what we’ve learned of Farrell and Gleeson. gif source
Tracks (2013). “Searching for/finding yourself” stories and movies are not my thing. Daily life gives you plenty of chances to find out who you are while you can make a difference in others’ lives, and “wherever you go, there you are.” Nice looking movie, Mia Wasikowska has impressed me every time I’ve seen her lately (The Double, Only Lovers Left Alive, Stoker) and she’s good here too, embarking on an impossible trek across the Australian Outback, mainly because she needs to keep moving in order to be happy. She takes some camels and her only friend in the world, her dog (bad decision, get your hankies ready), and she’s tracked by photog Adam Driver who documents her voyage. That’s all there is to it, but a lot happens as she crosses that forbidding landscape, those vast stretches of lonely and potentially deadly nothingness.
Words and Pictures (2013). Clive Owen is a washed up alcoholic teacher at a private school, on track to get booted for boozing and not living up to his promise as a great poet. He’s an easygoing, genial and fun and admired by his students, but not by his son, who’s ashamed of him (and he doesn’t even know Daddy plagiarized his work). Juliette Binoche is an acclaimed artist afflicted with rheumatoid arthritis who joins the school as the new aloof, tough-love art instructor. The two teachers’ prickly introduction becomes full-blown rivalry when Owen asserts that writing beats art and she tries to prove the opposite. Their war lights a fire under their students, might help Owen keep his job, and fuels a blossoming romance between these two difficult and stubborn personalities. Not bad, but very thin and not half as good as I was expecting given these leads. Some memorable moments, like Owen surprising one of his most devoted students when he confronts him for bullying, or Binoche’s explosive laughter when she sees the X-rated cartoons a teen drew of her.
(13 thru 26 were seen at TCM classic film fest) The Sound of Music (1965)