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Battylands


To The Wonder The only thing left for me to ponder in Terence Malick’s latest meditation on preponderance, To The Wonder (a contemporary love story of an Okie and a Eurotrashy ditz with happy feet from Paris), is where exactly in France is that fairytale castle surrounded by mushy sandy waters? And why the fuck would they settle down in the badlands of Oklahoma instead?

To The Wonder

Well, turns out that castle is Mont Saint-Michel, in the lower region of Normandy that dates back to the 10th century. But as far as to why they (or anyone for that matter) would want to live in a newly built two story house in Oklahoma without a fucking washer and dryer? Golly, I still couldn’t tell you. And that’s probably the most enduring mystery of the film. If I had to guess, it had something to do with Ben Affleck’s job there – walking around with a picnic cooler surveying the land for god knows what when he’s not busy chasing his wife (Olga Kurylenko) through wheat fields and smelling buffalo chips. Which is probably why everyone is so loopy and dizzy and suffers from lymes disease. That being said – as if we didn’t already know Olga is not the greatest actress, we now know she sure shit can’t fucking dance either. And while Ben may not be the greatest dancer he sure shit can’t fucking act without his beard – besides the scene where he wears a lampshade on his head.  To be fair, Malick finds more poetry in the visual silence of sheer curtains blowing in the wind and adults jumping up and down on beds then good old fashion dialogue.

To The Wonder

After watching those boring ass lovebirds, Rachel McAdams is definitely a breath of fresh air as she radiates like she were in a Carhartt/Sundance catalogue, unconvincingly playing a ranch handler with not a speck of dirt or grime on her. Still, not a bad rebound for Ben.

To The Wonder

As for priest Javier Bardem – he is either mumbling to himself or to Jesus. I’m not really sure. But the scene when Olga goes to him for confession is truly a revelation, in that it’s so private that there’s no way I could tell you what was revealed and neither could Malick. You just have to go see the movie yourself to come up with your own conclusions but I’m telling y’all right now your time will be better spent at the local laundromat instead of watching them do theirs.

To The Wonder

Considering Roger Ebert gave this a thumbs up you have to wonder if he knew this was likely his last review and therefore took comfort in the Javier’s sermon of “God to the left, God to the right…” – whereas I’d have to give it a thumbs down because all I see are clowns to the left of me and jokers to the right and here I am stuck in the middle. But till then Roger, please save me an aisle seat…

To The Wonder

To The Wonder

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Bardem Mayhem

A few weeks before Skyfall was released I bought the complete James Bond series on Blu Ray, which is by far one of the coolest packaged box sets yet – sleek and slim, with handsome slipcases for each individual disc laid in chronological order corresponding with a picture of each movie’s associated Bond Girl. With a space cleverly left empty for this upcoming movie, I noticed that there was no accompanying picture alongside the slot which made me wonder…only to soon realize after seeing Skyfall that the Bond Girl this time around is not the usual sexy, no name actress, but the frumpy lame dame Judi Dench! Of course Bond didn’t shag her, but who would’ve guessed he had a mommy complex?

Then again, there was a lot of Bond’s character and childhood revealed, along with introductions to Miss. Moneypenny and Q, that set this movie apart from the majority of others – and in turn makes it uniquely better. Of course it helps to have top-notch director Sam Mendes, and an artist like Roger Deakins as the DP to shoot stunning silhouettes in Shanghai and combat scenes through ice, water, and fire – unlike the usual hacks that they hire.

While Daniel Craig stunts are impressive the most outlandish feat is how he runs so fast in those flat shoes – jumping atop from one train car to the next.

But it’s the cat and mouse game between Bond and the villainous and flirtatious Javier Bardem that is really impressive – combining his charm from Vicky Christina Barcelona with a hair cut that rivals his No Country for Old Men, with the worst bite since Jaws.

Though with the technology and foresight to hack, relocate, and destroy British Secret Service I was hoping to see a subterranean lair made up in Lex Luthor fashion too.

Other than the minor foible of a weak opening credit montage and a 143-minute running time that put 2nd place Nobel Peace Blogging Award winner James Franco to sleep, I was wide awake in this long days journey into night that fits the puzzle of the innocence lost like what Rosebud was for Kane as Skyfall is for Bond.

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Woody’s Friendos in Barcelona

After the debacle of Scoop and Cassandra’s Dream, Woody Allen redeems himself with his fourth consecutive movie shot outside his beloved Manhattan. With a stellar cast, Vicky Cristina Barcelona erases the memory of Colin Farrell and Hugh Jackman. Unlike those posers, Javier Bardem tosses aside flipping coins and his captive bolt pistol from No Country for Old Men for a painters brush and an eye for beautiful American tourists (Scarlett Johansson and Rebecca Hall) vacationing in Spain for the summer, trying to coax them into a menage a trois by seducing them with their artistic notions of spanish guitar, architecture and wine. But just when you think this trio is wrought with erotic lesbian tension Scarlett finds she can’t hold her liquor, even with the additional weight of her huge ass melons, and Javier and newly engaged Rebecca end up in the dark unwittingly shagging in the bushes.

Yet this episode is just the setup for the introduction to Javier’s ex-suicidal wife, Penelope Cruz, who reveals what a true tortured romantic artist really is through her genuine latin passion, her flights of fancy and raw emotion juxtaposed to those self absorbed Americans. Rounding off this ensemble, Rebecca’s husband (Chris Messina) takes time off from his high powered, social climbing, Wall St. job with the intention of getting married in Barcelona where we see what a dweeb he is compared to Javier who makes out like a bandit by screwing all three girls before he even arrives.

However, with the standard love triangle scenario, Woody shows a different angle of clashing cultures through a brief summer love affair (shot in Spain’s gorgeous light) and how New Yorkers may be too preoccupied with their own neurotic issues of stability and identity and are out of touch with the kind of unadulterated passion and love like the Spaniards. On a sour note, what boggles me is not the use of a narration but that it’s narrated by some dude who reminded me of Bill Scott’s George of the Jungle and Super Chicken and not Woody himself, along with the repetitive one song latin soundtrack from it’s opening to closing credits by Giulia y los Tellarini to help remind you where the movie is set called, “Barcelona”.

Menage a Trois?

 

 

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