Quick Takes – 08.29.10

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, it’s complete lack of subtlety in its spiritual message was almost painful.

I’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 Ford’s My Darling Clementine was one of the first and remains one of the best. It’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 hadn’t quite nailed down his style yet, but My Darling Clementine is a solid addition to the legendary filmmaker’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 movie’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 didn’t seem like the stakes were high enough. I didn’t get the feeling that Scott had to fight these “evil exes” to achieve true happiness. However, one thing that I did notice was the seemingly out of place “Seinfeld” reference with the theme music from the iconic TV show. If there ever was a show that represented inconsequence, it has to be “Seinfeld” and I can’t help but think Edgar Wright deliberately put that moment in the film to make up for the minor stakes.

Read My Full Review

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 I’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 – 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. It’s such a bitterly funny moment that excellently sums up the movie’s theme and the Coens’ interpretation of Jewish fate.

Read My Full Review

What movies did you see last week?

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  • There was a LGBT film festival in Bogotá so I watched
    – Shank (2009): 3/10 Hideous film.
    – Las Douches Froides (Cold Showers) (2005): 7.3/10 Very nice film about the relationship of a young man and woman being interrupted by a newcomer. Great story about class difference and coming of age.

    And I also watched a documentary for a class:
    – The Corporation (2004): 8.8/10 I loved the people they invited to talk. Gave it a lot of credibility (Noam Chomsky, Vandana Shiva, Michael Moore).

  • Jose

    Scary Movie.

    I finally saw it in its entirety and in english because the first three times I’ve watched it were in Spanish and edited with the good stuff taken out (tehe). Wasn’t as fun in the 4th viewing though, maybe I outgrew it or something. C.

    Bright star. 1st Viewing.

    Abbie Cornish was OK, the movie itself was kind of boring. I’m not a big fan of romantic movies and I picked it up out of boredom. I’m going to give it another try later today. C.

  • Definitely give ‘Bright Star’ another look. Jane Campion is one of the finest directors we have. It’s one of those films about art that emerges to become art in and of itself.

  • Jose

    Like I said, I wasn’t paying attention to it but I’ll definitely try again.

  • Jose, if you check out my G Awards when I get to best actress, you’ll know how I feel about her performance: it’s flat-out brilliant. The movie is a bit tepid in places, I’ll admit, but I was still mesmerized. I also loved Paul Schneider as Keats’s fellow writer. He’ll be recognized, too.

    I did love “A Serious Man”. Not as much as Alex did (it’s still behind “The Hurt Locker” and “Up” in my book), but it’s awfully good.

  • Jose

    Alex quick question.
    I remember I while back that you wrote on your twitter page that you were attending a screening for the pilot episode of “The Event.” How was it?

  • I was invited, but I didn’t end up going. I would love to watch more TV, but I just don’t have time.

  • “Scott Pilgrim” is brilliant in its own way, and I hate that people haven’t had time to appreciate, or just don’t care to.

    I never quite got into “A Serious Man” like you did Alex. I felt it was good at portraying that story, but I felt that everything was kind of abrupt. I tried to dissect some meaning from the experience, but I think the film is just too smart for me. Or that I have to be Jewish to fully understand it.

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