movies: September 2005 Archives

It's not magic; it's just shiny

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Perhaps the fact that I didn't rush right to my computer this past weekend and throw up a gargantuan review of Terry Gilliam's The Brothers Grimm (IMDB) will give you some hint as to my thoughts about it. The thing about BG is that I really, really wanted to like it, much more than I did. Gilliam is one of my favorite directors--I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt, even for his so-called 'flops.' I have a lot of respect for any filmmaker who can break through the haze of mediocrity where most of Hollywood lives and breathes.

That being said, it's hard for me to be anything other than ambivalent about Brothers Grimm. The concept is a pretty good one--the brothers are, in fact, cynical guys who prey upon the gullibility of their contemporaries, recreating all sorts of witches, monsters, and villains so that they can take money from towns for "banishing" them. Much like "Shakespeare in Love" or even the Shrek franchise, the idea is that the movie is meant to be allusive, rewarding our ability to spot all the various references to well-worn fairy tales that pop up throughout. There are some really clever moments, and some dark moments as well, both of which are hallmarks to my mind of Gilliam's work.

At the same time, the movie felt pretty unsustained to me. I've seen reviews that claim that the plot is spotty, but I didn't find that to be the case at all. What I ended up with was that it felt like there were three or four different directions that the basic premise could have been taken in this movie, and all of them are attempted almost equally, to the overall detriment of the whole picture. Matt Damon is tolerable, and I'm appreciating more and more Peter Stormare's ability and comic timing. Jonathan Pryce and Heath Ledger, though, were both distracting at best (particularly the garble that was Ledger's "accent"), and Lena Headey's performance seemed to veer close to Keira Knightley's turn in Pirates of the Caribbean at times.

I don't know. I'd like to believe that the movie is a good one that's just suffered because of my high expectations, but I think that it's more the case that Gilliam felt those expectations and tried to meet all of them at once. The result is a movie that I have a hard time recommending beyond matinee prices, honestly.

That is all.

Broken Flowers

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It will be interesting, I'm sure, to see the various reviews for Broken Flowers (IMDB)--my guess is that they'll split pretty evenly among people who like Jarmusch's films and those who don't. Since I'm a member of the former group, here's why you should see this movie.

The rhythm of the movie is at times painfully slow, fighting against the same inertia that has overtaken Murray's life in the movie. There are places, many of them, that almost beg for a quicker cut to another scene or angle, and I have to think that Jarmusch is imposing this pace on us. In some ways, it reminds me of Paul Auster's work, the way that it reminds us of our own insistence on locating meaning where none may exist. There are a bunch of narrative connections that the movie allows us (and Murray and Wright) to draw, and the pace of the movie encourages us to "figure it out" in ways that are often misleading.

So yes, it is an unsatisfying movie on some levels. For me, this meant thinking about the very desire for satisfaction, a desire that Wright's character embodies and for which Murray's character almost serves as an antithesis. The movie is less about solving its central mystery and more about all the ways that we build our lives in order to avoid solving mysteries in general. The funny thing about this is that it's a movie that really prefigures its own critique. Someone will tell you, "It's slow. It's boring. Nothing really happens." And when they do, you'll know which of the characters that person identified with.

Me? I liked it quite a bit, and I flatter myself into thinking that it got me thinking about life in precisely the way it was meant to.

That's all.



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This page is a archive of entries in the movies category from September 2005.

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