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2010 “Epic” 5

1. The Social Network

2. Toy Story 3

3. True Grit

4.  The Fighter

5. The Runaways/Scott Pilgrim vs The World

 

Noteworthy:


Sylvian Chomet follows The Triplets of Belleville with The Illusionist – another marriage of traditional animation and music from the Frenchies reminding us Americans the standard format that 3D and CGI have become, thereby losing it’s poetic sensibilities and abstract qualities. But the Illusionist’s “epic fail” is in it’s focus on the least interesting characters as opposed to washed up vaudeville acts such as a suicidal clown, a lonely ventriloquist, midget concierges, acrobatic painters,  hybrid late 50’s band and a nippy bunny.

Toy Story 3‘s main characters’ relationship to the audience may already have been established but are still always developing as opposed to this Magician who still can’t draw a crowd or a dingy dimwitted materialistic ungrateful Bitch.

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Wicked Wit of the Grit

Usually I count the days in anticipation for the release of the latest Coen Bros’ film but since their first remake, Ladykillers, didn’t kill, this time around I was a bit dubious after seeing True Grit‘s too revealing trailer and cliche “wanted” font poster. But as it began I was immediately drawn in by the precocious 14yr old girl, Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) and her no nonsense determination to catch her Father’s killer to see him hang. But I felt like hanging myself when seeing how the Coen’s staged the typical western town without a speck of grime anywhere, (almost rivaling the Boardwalk Empire set) and DP Deakin’s clean, streaming pools of light.

(Fort Smith, Ark 1878)

The only redeeming aspect of the town scenes was Mattie’s bargaining with town businessman (the scene also read for their open auditions) and her witnessing a brutal yet comical hanging of three men – though local P.C. film critic, J. Hoberman, begs to differ.

“The Coens are still themselves. As one colleague remarked—unprompted—upon leaving the screening where True Grit was previewed for New York critics, “They always do something to make you hate them.” (In my case, the moment happened early on with a gag based on the hanging of a—dare one say—Native American.)”

Hey J, most of John Wayne’s movies portray Indians like shit and far worse, that’s one of the reasons why I’m not a fan of The Searchers. Though he does redeem himself in his review by citing the influence of Night Of The Hunter and it’s fable qualities he’s still more of a pompous douche than I am, I mean just look at his top ten list! From the likes of Alice in Wonderland to Little Red Riding these fables and fairy tales capture the innocence and fears of a young girl’s coming of age and so does Coen Bros. treatment and approach to their western. The Coen’s foray into this genre is not exactly groundbreaking (unlike No Country for Old Men) but they do infuse it with their usual eccentric brand of humor while being faithful more to the novel than Wayne’s version.

The casts’ delivery of dialogue are perfectly paced, Bridges as a drunk washed up sheriff, with insight from The Dude’s, and Matt Damon an overly confident Texas Ranger, like Space Ranger, Buzz Lightyear. The only fault in the film’s casting is the 40 year old Mattie Ross, who appears to look like a 60 year old Agnes Moorehead rather than the young Hailee. I know the western frontier and a snake bite will age you but talk about a country bumpkin!

But this tiny blemish is nothing compared to the sappy soundtrack. Nevertheless the Coens continue their prolific output and again leave me wanting more.

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Fiddler on the Roof

A Serious Man Poster

“How is it possible to find the meaning in a finite world, given my waist and shirt size?”  – Woody Allen

Scorsese had Mean Streets, Truffaut had The 400 Blows, Fellini – Amacord, and Woody Allen – Radio Days. Countless directors have paid homage to their childhoods as the Coen Brothers join the ranks keeping their quintessential absurdity and profundity but still resulting in probably their most sublime movie yet, A Serious Man. As it never presents itself as a personal nostalgic coming of age movie one can’t help that the world the Coen Brother’s create was not concocted out of their idiosyncratic imaginations but obviously from their own repressed childhood environment. Granted, Fargo was set in their beloved Minnesota and based on a “true story,” I doubt Joel or Ethan ever used a woodchipper or American Indian car mechanics like Shep Proudfoot and instead were more likely come across The Three Wise Rabbi’s.

A Serious Man Rabbi

After several decades of the Coens delving into every genre, what they have drawn from childhood they still retain enough fiction to keep it interesting. This too keeps that fiction by not having the protagonist as their alter egos. Instead we have Larry Gopnik (Michael Stuhlbarg) who is a physics professor struggling to raise his family in small town middle America, Minnesota within a Jewish insular community in 1967. But before we are introduced to this slice of Jewish-Americana the movie opens with a curious quote:

“Receive with simplicity everything that happens to you.” – Rashi.

After Googling Rashi I found out this dude was far from a simpleton but a medieval French Rabbi who had a thing or two to say about the Talmud.

This then is followed by what is seemingly an old yiddish cautionary folk tale that alludes to the possibility of evil reincarnation or just plain superstition shot in 4:3 aspect ratio for good measure until we go widescreen funneling out from 13 year old Danny Gopnik’s ear via a transistor radio. Soon to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, this pot smoking, Jefferson Airplane loving boy, who steals money from his Dad’s wallet to feed his habits, is unquestionably and ironically the only reasonable person in the movie – for TV and weed are a lot more appealing than parking lots and waddling yentas hacking up last night’s matzoh ball soup.

A Serious Man Danny(The Coens sure know how to dress a set to regress. Go F-Troop!)

As jewy as it may be ultimately it’s about most American dysfunctional families. I mean, every family has a a promiscuous Wife, a backstabbing best friend, a crazy freeloading Uncle that scribbles the meaning of the universe in a notebook or a Sister that is preoccupied with her face and hair.

Serious Man Mom and Daughter

But given the structure of the jewish community it is the Rabbi’s that hold the position of power and the ones that they flock to for guidance only to part ironically with more questions about teeth cavities and how to be a good boy and with the uncertainty that the only truth being that mortality and mother nature are inevitable.

A Serious Man Gopnik

(I should stick with Mentaculus.)

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His name’s Lebowski? That’s your name, Dude!

The Big Lebowski Ashes

“If you will it, Dude, it is no dream.” -Theodore Herzel State of Isreal

After a life long pursuit throwing rocks, Don-ny Doane finally rolled a perfect game before collapsing midst high five with teammates from a heart attack, dying with a smile on his face.

Donny who loved bowling.

Donny died, like so many young men of his generation, he died before his time and is probably turning over in his grave (though his ashes are scattered from La Jolla to Leo Carrillo) as the hordes of wannabes and bandwagoners congregate at these annual Big Lebowski Festivals throughout the land. 

The Big Lebowski Dude

“Has the whole world gone crazy!”Walter Sobchak

There’s nothing worse then when a cult classic becomes so mainstream whereby joining the ranks and reducing it to the level of the fans that jerk off to Will Farrell and Seth Rogen movies and their jerk off faces thereby ruining it and leaving you saying to yourself, “I would never want to belong to any club that would have someone like me for a member.” Not all of us are a Lebowski. Some of us are Nihilists which is more exhausting. Am I wrong? So come this month’s Lebowski Fest in NYC, for those of us who want our damn undies back, I hope to see a small faithfull band of outsiders protesting holding “nobody fucks with The Jesus” pickets. But till then, goodnight, sweet prince.

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Burn After Review

“Explanations come to an end somewhere.” – Ludwig Josef Johann Wittgenstein (Philosophical Investigation)

 

Despite negative buzz, The Coen Brothers’ 13th movie, Burn After Reading, when compared to their other works may not be considered groundbreaking and original but given the high expectations following No Country for Old Men and the repeat summer comedies of Farrell, Rogen, Stiller, and Jack Black it at least makes you appreciate that there are still real filmmakers out there. This time around they add DC to their list of cities to expose where we find new quirky characters plotting and scheming with reckless and random abandonment. From the opening overhead shot zooming thru the clouds (accompanied by the usual mission impossible type soundtrack) and into the secret insipid interior of CIA headquarters we are instantly thrown into this spy movie spoof black comedy. There we are introduced to agent Osborne Cox (John Malkovich) and his superiors in the act of firing him for his drinking problem. We then follow his plight into the paranoiac espionage nature of DC and it’s scandal ridden sexual infidelities only to clash with bimbo Hardbodies employees, Linda Litzke (Frances McDormand) and Chad Feldheimer (Brad Pitt) when they accidently obtain a disk of Cox that was “just lying on the floor” in the women’s locker room and their subsequent involvement in blackmailing him to pay for Linda’s numerous cosmetic surgeries and liposuction. To add to these blackmailing amateurs, Cox’s marriage is falling apart as his wife, Katie Cox (Tilda Swinton), unbeknownst to him is having divorce papers drawn up and an affair with a married man, Harry Pfarrer (George Clooney), who is a compulsive womanizer and sex toy inventor hobbyist and is also dating Linda. How the Russians get involved in this post Cold War circus is attributed by Osbornes’s disc which is what every spy thriller needs, the MacGuffin.

While the movie was marketed for it’s star studded cast, this cast proves to be more than just good looks. George Clooney caps off his Coen Brothers trilogy of playing an idiot with his boyish bravado of seducing women while Botox Brad and Frances, who literally lets it all hang out, pair up as a comic duo. But it is the meeting of the minds of Pitt and Malkovich that truly reveal the absurdity and comedy of this plot while Tilda Anteater Face continues to play the ultimate cold, stuck up bitch.

In the end, the Coen Brother’s have again succeeded in fighting the idiots we’ve been fighting our whole lives as they join the top of the box office along side these hollywood blockbusters that are consistently praised by retards.

 

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