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Alan J. Pakula.  Alan J. Pakula.  Alan J. Pakula.  I should stop here.  The Parallax View is the second movie in Pakula’s political paranoia trilogy, with Klute and my all time favorite All the Presiden’ts MenThe Parallax View is a straight-forward movie about a reporter, Warren Beatty, who gets in way over his head while investigating the assassination of a Senator and the mysterious deaths that follow.  His investigation leads him to the Parallax Corporation who is in the business of identifying potential assassins and hiring them out to clients.  Their motivations seem to be monetary and not political.  Trust no one and suspect everyone.

What I found to be refreshing is that the good guys don’t always win.  Political/conspiracy thrillers today, like The Interpreter, Vantage Point or The International, don’t do that any more.  Michael Clayton might be the best recent example and although the good guy wins the bad guys aren’t blown away after a brawl on top of the U.N.  The one fault with the Parallax View is that it is too straight forward and doesn’t argue or delve into conspiracy theories but this is hardly a criticism.  Pakula chooses not to dwell but to entertain.  Lone gunmen are hardly alone but to have it pinned on one keeps things tidy.

Night Catches Us did not catch me completely.  I was intrigued by this film because it takes place after the civil rights movement of the 1960’s and tensions although a memory at this point are still high.  This is the first film for me to cover this period and ask the question, ” We have just gone through all of this, demonstrations and violence so we can have the basic freedoms and rights like everyone else, so now what?”  I suppose the answer is, time.  Time happens.  History moves on.  For many that is enough and for others it only deepens their anger and resentment.   Night Catches Us is refreshing in that it avoids the street war cliche but did not delve into what the status of African-Americans is at this point.  The visuals support nothing has changed.  So the efforts of the Black Panther Party were fruitless?  This is the missing piece and I think this quote sums it up…”A refreshingly brainy, honorable attempt to address a complex chapter of African-American pride.”

-Joshua Rothkopf, Time Out New York

Rik’s Top 10 of the 2000’s
1.  Memento
2.  Children of Men
3.  Requiem for a Dream
4.  Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
5.  Fellowship of the Ring
6.  The Dark Knight
7.  Kill Bill Vol.1
8.  Amores Perros
9.  In the Bedroom
10.Royal Tenebaums

Honorable mentions:

  • The Bourne Identity/Casino Royale
  • Michael Clayton
  • Serenity
  • Let the Right One In
  • OSS 117

Evan’s Top 10 of the 2000’s
1.  There Will Be Blood
2.  Kill Bill
3.  Children of Men
4.  Wet Hot American Summer
5.  Wall-E
6.  The Dark Knight/Batman Begins
7.  The Incredibles
8.  Inglourios Basterds
9.  OSS 117
10. Friday Night Lights

Honorable mentions:

  • Tell No One
  • Almost Famous
  • 28 Days Later
  • Casino Royale
  • Crazy Heart
1. Winter’s Bone
2. Inception
3. Toy Story 3
4. Social Network / Tron: Legacy
5. Black Swan

1.  Winter’s Bone
2.  True Grit
3.  Tron: Legacy
4.  Toy Story 3
5.  A Prophet

1. Winter’s Bone
2. Tron: Legacy
3. Please Give
4. Social Network
5. The Kids Are Alright

1. Kick-Ass
2. The Social Network
3.  A Prophet
4. Greenberg
5. Exit Through the Gift Shop

What is this?  A vampire movie that doesn’t get bogged down with the rules of being a vampire or goes for cheap scares and minimally uses special effects to enhance the story.  What?  A movie that actually has a compelling story.  I like special effects.  I would like to see that blue man 3D movie, just to say I saw it.  But if all it has to offer is a new, cool way to do special effects and doesn’t offer an interesting story then I am bored.  I should not have to go to Sweden to see a good movie.

I think I am going to carve “Oskar & Eli forever” into the tree in my backyard.

full5First let me apologize to the two readers of Filmgrounds for taking way too long to review this movie.  I really hate myself because I put off watching a truly hilarious comedy.  Here’s my thing… not every comedy has to be bogged down with story or some moral blah blah.  I want a comedy that makes me laugh throughout, that’s the point right?  Wet Hot American Summer does that and doesn’t apologize for it.  Don’t get me wrong, I think Knocked Up, Role Models, Superbad are funny but they all rely on the story to get you through.  WHAS, as I will refer to it from here on, is about moving from gag to gag and by the end of the movie all the rules have been thrown out and it’s a comedy free for all.  Really the end is more of an homage to all the crazy crap that goes on in “real” movies.

Great comedies are defined by how quotable they are and WHAS has many quotable lines.  For example, “Before we start, I’d just like to say the campers you’re about to see suck dick! But nevertheless, please welcome them.”  “If you wanna smear mud on your ass, smear mud on your ass – just be honest about it. Look, Gene, I’ve never told anyone this before, but I can suck my own dick, and I do it a lot.”  And Finally… “Excuse me, ladies. You may remember me as the guy who came to dinner a few weeks ago with underwear on my head. My name is Keith Stat from Millburn, New Jersey. State bird, the mosquito. And as you may have heard, I am recently a crowned class B dungeon master. So if any of you would like to play D&D today, please speak now or forever hold your peace.”

It should be noted that the “smear mud on my ass” line was delivered by a can of vegetables.  Now that’s funny.

in-bruges-posterBruges, the armpit or better yet the asshole of Europe as it is considered by Ray played by Colin Farrell.  Bruges might be his hell but this movie was my heaven.  I absolutely enjoyed this movie.  This is not you typical hit man movie.  No one curved bullets while doing a cartwheel. And if that is what you are looking for then find another movie and perhaps another blog.  Yes there is a action but it is not the focal point.  Two hit man, Farrell and Gleeson, are sent to Bruges to hide out after a hit and instructed to lay low and do a little sightseeing.  During their stay details of the hit are uncovered as they discuss life, death, and do some blow with a dwarf.  Be prepared for some deliberately offensive dialogue and 126 uses of the word fuck.  For me it was great and worked within the framework of the characters

I know Colin Farrel is a good actor but recent roles have not supported that thought but ‘In Bruges’ gives you a reason to like him again with this colorful role.  See this movie.


Best Actor: Jimmy Stewart – “The Man Who Knew Too Much”

Best Supporting Actor:    Gilles Lellouche – “Tell No One”

Best Actress: Doris Day – “The Man Who Knew Too Much”

Best Scene: Jimmy Stewart gets a phone call. “The Man Who Knew Too Much”

Best Film:  “Tell No One”


Best Actor: François Cluzet – “Tell No One”

Best Supporting Actor: Gilles Lellouche – “Tell No One”

Best Actress – Emmanuelle Seigner – “Frantic”

Best Scene: Jimmy’s phone call “The Man Who Knew Too Much”

Best Film:  “Tell No One”

brick_ver7_xlgIf I had not just viewed “Tell No One” I would say that “Brick” is the best movie I have seen recently.  But I think I will call a tie for that honor.  Both movies are very similar in terms of a protagonist searching for a lost love in a ruthless world where nothing and no one is as it seems.  Once again you are placed in the main character’s shoes and go on a journey for truth.  Brick is extra special in that director Rian Johnson transposes the 1930’s gumshoe and the film noir genre onto a modern day high school.  These characters embody the attitudes and dialogue of that time period and genre of film and never wink at the camera.  The beauty is that it always feels natural, and is never over the top.

The story of Brendan tracing Emily’s, his missing girlfriend, movements through a high school drug ring is never clear as it unravels but does provide plush dialogue, actions and incidents.  This movie sucked me in.  Joseph Gordon-Levitt is perfect in this role and I look forward to seeing him in “500 Days of Summer.”  Some might find the lingo to be a burden to a an already elaborate story but for me it was in line with the presentation and it served a purpose.  There was terminology that Brendan was not familiar with that he had to learn in order to put the pieces together.  If I think about it this is probably how parents hear the way their kids talk.  A bunch of fast paced slang that seems ridiculous on the surface but can be deep.

Rian Johnson made this movie with no budget and edited it on his desktop.  Which is really not that unusual anymore.  He demonstrates that smart direction and determination can go a long way.  “Brick” works and I recommend seeing it immediately.

I am posting the trailer but I recommend watching it after the movie.  It is a good trailer and it helped me fill in some blanks.