No Country for Old Men
is the Coen brothers latest opus based on the novel by Cormac McCarthy.
While many viewers will see the rather simple story (brilliantly told)
of a rancher who stumbles across dead bodies, a stash of heroin and $2
million dollars in the vast spaces of Texas, the beneath-the-surface
stories woven amid this main theme make No Country for Old Men one of
the greatest American films in some time. Violent, vastly strange,
funny and oh-so-subtle in its messaging about America in her current
state, the film is as close to an American masterpiece as you can get.
The film stars Javier Bardem (as Anton Chigurh, the creepiest serial
killer you’ll meet in sometime), Woody Harrelson, Josh Brolin and Tommy
Lee Jones, all perfectly cast; especially Bardem who received a deserved Oscar nomination for his role. The Coen’s editing and framing of each scene is, in
a word, magnificent. In particular I was mesmerized by the scene at the
motel in El Paso where Brolin chats to the sunbathing girl at the pool,
and the encounter our villain Chigurh has with the gas station
attendant near the beginning of the film. While many folks will see
these two scenes as simple, and perhaps boring, they are two of the
most perfect examples of perfect film-making in some time. My rating
10 out of 10.
Blades of Glory
Ferrell and Jon Heder star in this irreverent tale of two single men’s
figure skating champions who team up as a couple in a pairs
competition. Will Speck and Josh Gordon direct this madcap caper that
has plenty of laugh-out-loud scenes. As a satire of the figure skating
world in America is doesn’t quite hit the mark, partly because the
figure skating world in America is so befuddled and amusing in itself.
That aside, the sheer silliness and zaniness of the film and Ferrell’s
subtle knack of knowing just how far to go with his usual shtick make
this film an amusing ride for a Saturday night after one too many
glasses of chardonnay. My rating 7 out of 10.
fails miserably. And that is probably the best buzzline for this plodding, sorry film: miserable. My rating 2 out of 10.
While Chris Cooper gives a great performance in this movie based on the true story of the American FBI computer guru, Robert Hanssen, who sold secrets to the Russians for years, I found this movie (yawn) boring. It is capably directed by Billy Ray in a tight, mechanical sort of way and co-stars Ryan Phillippe who’s basically there to look pretty and provide some reason for a story. It’s proof spy thrillers do need a dead body or three to make things interesting. Hanssen, apparently, in real life was as flat and boring as you see him in the movie, and that, coupled with Ray’s decision to film everything in varying shades of greys, doesn’t make for much excitement. All that aside, Cooper does a fine job showing us the eccentricity of a supposedly ‘good’ guy gone bad, even though Ray never let’s us understand why he did it. My rating 5 out of 10.
Director Ridley Scott – he of Bladerunner, Alien and The Duelists – gives us a 2 and a half hour ‘epic’ starring Orlando Bloom as Balian, a poor blacksmith who after losing his family, signs onto to the Crusades to rid the Holy Land of Muslims way back when. So that’s the set up and you would think with Scott at the helm and his Gladiator success behind him that we’d be wowed. Sadly, this is not the case. Kingdom of Heaven is a Kingdom of Colossal Boredom, convoluted, disjointed, confusing, boring. And speaking of heaven, Bloom could have used some divine inspiration to bring life to his character. The worse thing about this film was not the fact I kept nodding off (which is never a good sign I know) but more the fact in 2 and a half hours nothing happens. Shame on you Scott; we expect more. For the couple of sweeping scenes in the film, my rating 1 out of 10.