Sunday, September 23, 2007

on the radar, nine months later

Wow. Nine months since a blog post. Kind of ludicrous, right? I'll be lucky if this thing gets read anymore. Children have been conceived and born in that time. Just reading over my minor blog-resurrection back in January, it feels like it's been a long time.

I've been doing a lot of reading.

I've been doing a lot of writing.

And lately, I've been seeing a lot of movies....

--> The Brave One
Fully entertaining Jodie Foster vigilante fare. Another example of a movie whose target audience is me.... nouveau revenge film where wronged woman gets to make things right by taking out the bad guys (even with a crowbar through the head). Why reviewers keep wanting to to compare it to Taxi Driver I do not know (perhaps because the comparison is too juicy, too ripe to want to place Foster's role as teeny-bopper hooker in that movie to ass-kicking mama-san in this one). It seemed to have a lot of precursor steam, but generally negative reviews might punch away Foster's chance at an (fully deserved) Oscar nomination for Best Actress this year.

--> 3:10 to Yuma
Apparently it's a remake, apparently it's based on an Elmore Leonard short story. Still, this movie falls into a recent rut of crappy titles for films. That said, it took me by complete surprise.... I love westerns, especially the newer reincarnation of westerns (see also: Open Range), and this was a movie that held me from the start. Sometimes I think the western genre might try to plunger too many excuses for shoot-outs down our throats, but this movie seemed paced just right; a kind of "road picture" western that shows two men match wits and come to a truce in a satisfying, fulfilling way for us viewers. (Side note: Ben Foster seethes creepiness all over every scene he's in. Nice job.)

--> Across the Universe
Julie Taymor's directorial style is something unmatched in film today, and I wish the woman would make more movies. Frida (her previous foray into film) wasn't the best movie in the world but was shocking and gorgeous in its visual imagination. Taymor also wielded her wizardy as choreographer-cum-puppeteer on stage with the Broadway production of The Lion King (truly a breathtaking theatre experience). This film is, basically, a 60's coming of age musical woven together taking from the span of the complete repertoire of the Beatles, and it succeeds in leaps and bounds, and gives us a treat to the beautiful and the bizarre. I'd argue this is a movie whose experience wouldn't be the same if you just wait to rent it on DVD.

More movies to come.... I for one keep getting chills when I watch the trailer for Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Also, No Country for Old Men, which was an f-ing phenomenal book (one of my favorites, certainly one of the best I read this year), which looks like it will be one f-ing phenomenal bloodbath of a movie, directed by the Coen Brothers. Don't expect this to be some sprightly dark comedy, though.... the book was about evil to the core, and I hope the movie stays true.

In other news: check out stinkylulu's Supporting Actress Sundays post on one of the best acting performances I've ever seen on film.... that of Diane Ladd in David Lynch's Wild at Heart.


Writeprocrastinator said...

Welcome back!

I'm always amazed that the western genre has had such a hard time being revived. Most gangster films are just westerns, set in contemporary times and in terms of cause and effect, they are identical twins.

"3:10" is a short story, so there had to be a lot of filler in order to get a full screenplay in any of the versions. If you like Elmore Leonard, you should read his collection of western short stories that came out a couple of years ago.

is that so wrong? said...

WP: Hmmm.... I do rather like Elmore Leonard (and I know you do too). What's the title of this story collection?

J.J. said...

I thought The Brave One was ludicrous.

Writeprocrastinator said...

The Complete Western Stories of Elmore Leonard. It has "3:10 To Yuma" and just like with his crime novels, the villains in his westerns have a certain nobility and code of conduct. There are three other stories that were converted to film, in this volume.

This book also offers insight into his advertising days and his first western stories were published at the tail end of the pulps. Make sure that you get it in hardcover or a paperback version of decent size, so that you can reference the map.

Bubs said...

I had no idea Elmore Leonard wrote 3:10 to Yuma! Cool--he's a favorite of mine, even if my blessedly now-dead evil mother in law also liked him and referred to him as "Elmo" Leonard.

That Jodie Foster flick doesn't remind me at all of Taxi Driver. I think of either Death Wish, or more likely Abel Ferrera's Ms .45 from the early 80's.

Dale said...

I'm curious about Across the Universe. I loved Frida and Titus and was surprised at how much I enjoyed the "$100 Puppet Show". Julie Taymor has staged an opera at The Met as well for her resume, she's an amazing visual artist.

I like Jodie but I'm worried about the film and also worried about Cate doing another Elizabeth film. The 'first' was so damned excellent and the trailers for the new one scare me into thinking it's all set pieces and light. I'm sure she'll prove me wrong.

is that so wrong? said...

Dale: You know what, I'm starting to fear that The Golden Age is going to be one giant set piece as well.... but I too want Cate to rise above it all and be worth the price of admission.