Friday, May 29, 2009

The Brothers Bloom

MUST-SEE: (Rian Johnson) This movie is incredible. It has everything: hilarity,cunning, unpredictability, suspense, wit. Absolutely nothing in this film disappoints. Mark Ruffalo is stand-out as the older of the Bloom brothers--I would say his best performance ever. From hustling teeny-boppers, orphaned for their bad behavior, they grew to be the best con men in the world, millionaires riding on the earnings of those less savvy to keep up. The problem is with Adrien Brody's "Bloom," the younger brother with somewhat of a heart you might say, who wants out of the business... but not before one last con of course, one where they swindle an innocent heiress into a wild goose-jaunt across the globe. Rachel Weisz plays this Penelope Stamp, a girl locked in her own home at a young age, sheltered from the world but curious beyond sanity. She is the mark, per say, for the con, but the group (including a fiery performance by Babel's Rinko Kikuchi) finds themselves never knowing who actually is running the show. The story is a wild ride of self-discovery and imagination, but also about letting loose, trying on different hats, and overall, enjoying life as it happens. Bloom fights to escape a written life by his brother, but discovers that it's impossible to avoid love and kinship whether on purpose or not. I can't say rave more about this film. I was expertly entertained and left wanting everyone I know to see it. It's The Prestige meets Oceans Eleven and never lets you catch your breath to think what the magic ingredient is that makes it so good. Tackling every angle for any kind of audience, you'll leave with a dose of honest love, harsh life lessons, and a curiosity sparked for travel and adventure. Added to the spectacle is a muted color palette, resembling that of an old fable, Grimm's-like and fantastic. Enjoy what Johnson has created--letting yourself go on an adventure where truth is irrelevant in the face of success and good times.

Monday, May 11, 2009

Happy Go Lucky

MUST-SEE: (Mike Leigh) Golden Globe winner, Sally Hawkins stars as Poppy, a lively, optimistic Brit, enjoying every drop of life, good or bad, in Mike Leigh's latest vignette. An illustration of taking everything in stride, Happy Go Lucky is a glimpse into Poppy's day-to-day, exuding someone with everything the title promises. Often irritating to others, Poppy's uncanny ability to take light of any and everything inevitably leaves you (and those others) with a smile. Knowing full well that in real life, Poppy would 100% drive me nuts, I couldn't help but enjoy watching her on-screen, and secretly envying that positivity. Facing all of the same strife for women her age (will she ever marry, will she get to have kids, is she making an influence on her children's lives, etc., etc.), she manages to keep her focus on the good, truly living life in the moment, with no regrets and no need for second chances. Already 30 years old and still living single with her best friend, Poppy is absolutely satisfied with the present. A successful and dedicated schoolteacher and a member of a doting group of fantastic friends, she looks no farther for greater expectations. Even when her bike is stolen, her biggest woe is that she didn't get to give it a proper goodbye--she "tsks" for a moment, double-checking for it around the corner, but then merrily hops on the bus home, where she decides she'll just take driving lessons because she needed to learn that anyway. But not only does she lose her bicycle, but she is stalked and berated by a creepy driving instructor--a truly wonderful performance by Eddie Marsan and the absolute best scenes of the film (i.e. clashing stringent anger with bubbly cheer in high-heeled boots creates phenomenal suspense for these tiny scenes--erratic emotion and diverse humor pair Hawkins and Marsan's student-teacher relationship as uncanny opposites relating in the subtlest of ways). Poppy reminds us (no matter how unrealistic) that life is short and meant to be enjoyed. Laughing at hardship and taking light what is otherwise dreary makes for much more fun and much less worry. From my own intolerance for such a cheery creature at the beginning of the film was, in fact, the root of my ease by the end. Writer/Director Leigh truly captures through Poppy what we all envy, fluidly and effortlessly, using dialogue and laughter to create strong tonal quality. This film is an easy watch--a true feel-good flick. You're guaranteed to let her get to you by the end, inevitably smiling and laughing, with a renewed sense of positive flair. Enjoy!

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Burn After Reading

MUST-SEE: (Coen Brothers) Burn After Reading is a hilarious illustration of the truth behind never really knowing the truth. A stellar cast, who put it all on the line to play some of the saddest losers known to modern script, eliminates the need for a drama amidst a slew of steep film (meaning, this film came out during Oscar time). It's almost as if the big names of this film did it simply to recess from the expected; it's a quick homage to why they love the screen, for themselves, not their reputation. The Coen Brothers (arses they may be) bring to accord a mess of people, starting with middle-aged gym employees and crossing all the way over society to emotionally disturbed CIA employees, common adulterers and financial swindlers. At Hardbodies Gym, Francis McDormand's Linda just wants a boyfriend, and a little plastic surgery along the way. Her best friend Chad, Brad Pitt, questionably has no brain at all so we'll say he is there for comic relief and moral support. Richard Jenkins is the manager, secretly in love with McD, but highly unaccepting of her adolescent antics and constantl havign to choose between winning her heart or running his gym. Back across town, Clooney is sleeping with Swinton who is secretly securing finances of her soon to be ex-husband, Malcovich. Insert multiple sex toys and zero compassion for a knock down love-polygon that leaves human default as ultimate humor and absolutely no room for pity. You're seeing these actors as you never have before; they aren't afraid to play fools, and lucky for us, they play most things extremely well, so this is something truly unique. As much as it kills me to pat the Coens on the back, I loved this film. It was upbeat, absolutely funny and placed some of my favorite people into a new (more diverse) light. Don't expect to be wrought with any sort of emotion upon seeing the film. There is ultimately no point to this plot, except to add a little color to a bland world of nobodies, deciding to be somebodies, or at least thinking they deserve to be. Even a teaser role from J.K. Simmons makes this film one of rare disappointment and increased ridiculousness. All in all, a fantastic success.