The Book of Eli (2010)
Grade: C | 1st Viewing
It was difficult to determine if the excessive violence in a film with an obvious spiritual message was meant to be ironic or just aiming to please its young adult target audience. Denzel Washington and the once again re-invented Gary Oldman made this film watchable and it features one of the best tracking shots that I have seen this year in a shootout from a house. However, itâ€™s complete lack of subtlety in its spiritual message was almost painful.
Iâ€™m also rather surprised that the relatively unknown filmmaking duo the Hughes brothers were able to score such big names as Michael Gambon, Malcom McDowell and Tom Waits especially since they were all wasted in their limited roles.
My Darling Clementine (1946)
Grade: A- | 1st Viewing
The story of Wyatt Earp and the lawless town of Tombstone has been told many times, but John Fordâ€™s My Darling Clementine was one of the first and remains one of the best. Itâ€™s completely Fordian in its portrayal of Earp as motivated by revenge and an irresistibly likable character. It helps that the leading man is the great Henry Fonda who could play a serial killer and still be empathetic.
Of all of the actors that John Ford has worked with I think his collaborations with Henry Fonda are his strongest. Ford re-uses the theme of the necessity to do what is right and Fonda is completely believable as someone who fate has chosen as a savior. His line readings are perfect and he works well with all of the other actors on screen making for a perfect collaboration. Ford hadnâ€™t quite nailed down his style yet, but My Darling Clementine is a solid addition to the legendary filmmakerâ€™s canon.
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)
Grade: B+ | 2nd Viewing
The second time that I saw Scott Pilgrim vs. The World I showed up to the theatre late assuming that I would have no trouble finding a seat with the movieâ€™s failing Box Office numbers. I was dismayed to find that the theatre had moved Scott Pilgrim to their smallest screen and the theatre was completely packed so my group of three was banished to the front row. Why anybody would put seats that close to a screen is beyond me and during the opening credits I was afraid I would suffer a seizure. I think that Sex Bob Omb literally rocked my face off.
One of the problems I have had with Scott Pilgrim was that it didnâ€™t seem like the stakes were high enough. I didnâ€™t get the feeling that Scott had to fight these â€œevil exesâ€ to achieve true happiness. However, one thing that I did notice was the seemingly out of place â€œSeinfeldâ€ reference with the theme music from the iconic TV show. If there ever was a show that represented inconsequence, it has to be â€œSeinfeldâ€ and I canâ€™t help but think Edgar Wright deliberately put that moment in the film to make up for the minor stakes.
A Serious Man (2009)
Grade: A | 2nd Viewing
It took me a long time to do a second viewing of my favorite movie from last year, but Iâ€™m glad that I finally did. The moment that really stuck out to me this time was when Larry Gopnik was about to receive his only bit of incredibly minor good news in the entire film â€“ that he was correct about where his property line is located. The property assessor sits down to reveal his findings and then instantly has a heart attack and dies. Itâ€™s such a bitterly funny moment that excellently sums up the movieâ€™s theme and the Coensâ€™ interpretation of Jewish fate.
What movies did you see last week?