Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Blog Next Door Recap, or How while I'm away you should catch up

So A Blog Next Door goes on holiday this week - one has to take some time off and spend time with family, and yeah... get to those papers we've been leaving aside for a while now. And so, coming to the blog's fourth month anniversary (who knew?!) I thought I'd offer a menu of past posts that I really like, you should read, link to and more importantly enjoy.

If you're an awards geek, or just want to know what movies to look out this holiday season, you should take a look at my FYC campaign, which included highlighting movies such as , Juno, Hairspray, Ratatouille, Knocked Up, Superbad and the one movie you should catch on DVD right now (!) : Once.

Are you a fan of ABC's wildly colourful, style-obsessed and hilariously upbeat comedy Ugly Betty? Take a look at a tripartite study of Ugly Betty's 'queer' characters as we answer How Queer is MODE? Take a look at the posts on Alex/is Meade, Marc St James and Justin Suarez.

If you're looking at the year ahead just check out the newest collection of posts which highlight a number of upcoming films that A Blog Next Door is looking forward to.

If you want something a bit more meaty (academically speaking), you should check out a couple of posts which have covered events hosted by the English Department here at Rutgers: check out the coverage of the After Sex? On Writing Since Queer Theory event which featured Lee Edelman, Jeff Nunokawa and Michael Cobb among others, and the post on Marilee Lindeman's talk On the Internet Everyone Thinks I'm a Dog.

They gave me a chance to write stuff I love and both posts were warmly welcomed. Over at The Film Experience, Nat hosted a Montgomery Clift Blog-a-thon to which I added my own thoughts on Suddenly, Last Summer's queer leanings. And over at Queering the Apparatus, the blog-a-thon's topic was 'Queer Movies' to which I chimed in with a post on Disney's villains and their particularly queer nature.
Check the Monty post Suddenly, Last Summer, or How Queering is Fun and the QTA post Queering Disney, or How Walt's Villains Play For Our Team.

Seeing Double. What started as a fun addition to the blog, became an addiction. So much that I keep looking out for images that mirror, or echo, or speak to each other. My favourite? The 300/Beowulf (visual) comparison essay.

And then of course, you can revel in posts that are basically just love-letters to the things that have kept me smiling this past year: Pushing Daisies, 30 Rock and Buffy Season 8.

Enjoy! See you in 2008!

2008 Watch Out For List or How Star Wars, NYC and WallE are coming our way

Good Premises

Sure, star-power and franchise-frenzy will make me indulge in the capitalistic world we live in by blindly purchasing a ticket for certain movies, but sometimes I think of good stories, and follow good writers wherever they'll lead me. Here are a couple that have sparked my curiousity:

Release Date: (TBA)
After watching several clips at Comic Con and hearing the cast and crew talk for an entire panel I cannot wait enough for this movie. Not only does it look hilarious but it takes up one of the most fascinating aspects of Pop Culture and turns it on its head: Star Wars. Any movie that gets the blessing of George Lucas to a) make fun of him, and b) allow them to film at the Skywalker Ranch MUST be worth watching. Premise: Four friends try and hunt down a copy of Episode One before it hits screens. Hilarity ensues. (And yes, they all agree it sucked!)

Iron Man

Release Date: May 2, 2008
I am a big supporter of Robert D. So it is only fitting that here I am waiting for his latest foray into Hollywoodland with the newest Marvel hero to join the pantheon of comic-book-to-movie character translations. After seeing the trailer all I can say is: can't wait!

Speed Racer
Release Date: May 9, 2008
Wachowski Bros + a 1960s cartoon that I loved as a little kid + Matthew Fox in spandex? What could be better?


Release Date: June 27, 2008
As an obsessive Pixar fan, I cannot wait to see what Andrew Stanton & co have come up with for next summer. What if man left Earth and forgot to turn off the last robot? What if that robot was a Waste Allocation Load Lifter - Earth-class robot who is utterly adorable? Only Pixar knows and will let us in on the secret next summer.

The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
Release Date: November 26, 2008
After this year's Zodiac, I am even more excited for this movie whose premise still tickles my fancy (an expression I never have nor ever again will use): The movie tells the story of Benjamin Button, a man who starts aging backwards with bizarre consequences. (Based on Fitzgerald's story)

Synecdoche, New York
Release Date: TBA 2008
What has Charlie Kauffman written that I haven't enjoyed? Exactly. Nothing. Every movie leaves me so tantalized I am forced to watch it over and over to get the full effect. Don't know what movies I'm talking about? Wondering who Kauffman is? Please refer to Being John Malkovich, Adaptation, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind but in particular to the brilliant Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind. The deceivingly simple premise: A theater director (Phillip Seymour Hoffman) struggles with his work, and the women in his life, as he attempts to create a life-size replica of New York inside a warehouse as part of his new play. Kudos for using 'synecdoche' in the title, maybe now more people will know what it means and use it correctly.

Release Date: TBA 2008
What do you need to make a star-powered Australian film? Get Nicole on the line, sign up Hugh, have Baz write and direct, assemble a number of recognizable aussie faces (including 300's David Wenham, and 'acting legend' Bill Hunter - Nemo, Muriel and Priscilla on his record? awesome!) and shoot right in the heart of Hollywood's idea of Australia - Bowen, Sydney and Kununurra as far as I've read. I expect some yobbos, sheilas and some walkabouts to make an appearance.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

2008 Watch Out For List, or How Amy, Meryl and Kate are back

Stars I Love

A star can make or break a movie (can you imagine Devil Wears Prada without Meryl or Pretty Woman without Julia?) and on occasions I'll find myself flocking to certain movies just to see my favourite stars act their way into (or out of...) a movie. Here's a list of who I'll be chasing at the multiplexes next year:

Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day

Release Date: March 7, 2008 (limited)
Lee Pace (of Pushing Daisies fame) and Amy Adams (one of my new favourite people after Enchanted and Junebug viewings) in the same movie!? After watching the trailer I had to stop myself from smiling (why is it that Lee and Amy do this to me?) That said, it is refreshing to look forward to watch movies where women's promiscuity is embraced in a comedic fashion.

Mamma Mia!
Release Date: July 18, 2008

I will follow Meryl Streep anywhere she goes (and yes, that included watching Lions for Lambs... snooze). And really, what movie with ABBA songs will not make me happy? (Yes Priscilla and Muriel I'm looking at you!) I have yet to see the stage version but with the recent Broadway-Hollywood hits we've seen in the past two years I'm hopeful. (Bonus: Dominic Cooper hottie alert!)

onary Road
Release Dat
e: December 19, 2008
The World's favourite tragic-ridden boat lovers are back again under the directorial gaze of Kate's very own Academy Award Winning Director Husband Sam Mendes. The story? According to IMDB: 'A young couple living in a Connecticut suburb during the mid-1950s struggle to come to terms with their personal problems while trying to raise their two children. Based on a novel by Richard Yates.'

The List (Formerly The Tourist)
Release Date: April 25, 2008

Why do I feel as though a) I haven't heard of this movie outside my occasional IMDB stalking of its main stars (Ewan, Hugh and Michelle Williams), b) feel as though it's been in production/ post-production/ release hell for, well... forever and c) still think the idea of Ewan and Hugh involved in some sort of 'mysterious sex club' is endlessly alluring?

The Young Victoria

Release Date: TBA 2008

I'm not a big fan of costume dramas (I am one of the few who hasn't seen the allure of Blanchett's Elizabeth, or Rhys-Meyer's The Tudors for example) but I will watch Emily Blunt in anything. Especially if she's surrounded by an amazing supporting cast: Miranda Richardson, Rupert Everett, Paul Bettany, and Jim Broadbent.

Baby Mama

Release Date: April 18, 2008

If you are not yet in love with Tina Fey, there is something disturbingly wrong with you. Seriously: SNL, Mean Girls and 30 Rock should have wooed you by now. Catch her next year in this comedy about surrogate pregnancy.

SAG Awards, or How Nominations are out!

The Screen Actor Guild Nominations were announced earlier this morning and while the same names kept cropping up there were some interesting choices.

Category that threw a wrench into the awards derby: Outstanding Performance by a Cast in a Motion Picture, glad to see Hairspray getting some love and 3:10 to Yuma getting some recognition - but where is Juno? (Other nominees were American Gangster, No Country for Old Men and SAG fave Into the Wild)

Category that I wish would change once in a while: Best Lead Actress (Blanchett, Cotillard, Christie, Page and Jolie... snore) Where are Amy, Helena, Laura and/or Kiera... speaking of, where were Atonement and Sweeney in all of this?

Nominations that were overdue: Stunt Cast.

Nominations that make me giddy: 30 Rock and Ugly Betty with multiple noms.

Nomination that makes me go 'why oh why?' Grey's Anatomy for Best Ensemble.

Nomination(s) or lack thereof that make me think I'm alone in the world for loving this show: After a great showing at the Globes, freshman show Pushing Daisies got no love from the actors.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

2008 Watch Out For List or How Indy, Harry and others will be back

While everyone else is reveling in 'Best of 2007' I thought we could look ahead. Here at A Blog Next Door there are a couple of movies we are watching out for - and you should too! For sake of brevity I divided my list into three categories: Franchises I Love, Stars I Love and Good Premises. Here goes the first:

Franchises I Love (ie. Hyped Up Movies that I hope won't disappoint)
I know, I know... Star Wars and Lord of the Rings come only once in a blue moon. But sometimes you just have to see the 'next episode' if only to revisit characters you love, retread over premises you know by heart, and even see what the producers/writers/directors have come up with THIS time to make your money worthwhile. Here are my picks for 2008:

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Release Date: Ma
y 22, 2008
Though I don't know how Indy will make the transition to the 21st Century with newest It-kid Shia LeBouf, I will still buy my ticket to go see what Harrison, Steven and Cate have in store for us this coming summer. That said I am still mourning the fact that Mr Connery will not be reprising his role as Indy's daddy as he was arguably a high point of the 80s trilogy, and the fact that the movie has such a horrible title that makes me think it came out of a dungeons and dragons Saturday night basement charade.

Sex and the City: The Movie
Release Date: May 30, 2008
Like anyone who loved the series and loves watching the reruns (albeit censored on TBS) I am weary about the promising nature of the silver screen shenanigans of Ms Bradshaw and company. That said, watching (what I can only hope will still be R-rated, though I'm sure they'll more likely skew for PG-13) sex scenes on the big screen will be worth the movie ticket - oh and yeah, I'm also excited about the romantic storylines, sure.

Bond 22
Release Date: November 7, 2008
How do you top a movie that has given us one of the most widely reproduced man-candy scenes of all cinema? (Two if you count that torture scene... if you're into that of course) It'll be hard, that's true for Mr Haggis, Mr Foster and Mr Craig to top that and the rest of what was the most thrilling 007 venture in years, but I am confident that it will be one of the must-watch events of 2008 if only to watch Mr Craig owning the 007 title for a second time and seeing Ms Dench scorch the screen as she usually does with those great exasperated sighs and sardonic remarks she has so masterfully honed over the years.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Release Date: November 21, 2008
While I am still torn over the ending of Rowling's franchise (was that subpar last chapter even necessary? I know it's a 'children's lit series' but did it need that useless '20 years later Happy Ending' epilogue?) I am excited about the second to last movie installment - Phoenix delivered and Half-Blood should too. Sure, it won't be the artistic gem that Cuarón's third installment was but it is sure to offer what will be an even greater wizarding duel and a chance for Alan Rickman to scare (new) legions of HP fans.

The Dark Knight
Release Date: July 18, 2008
Chris Nolan - like Paul Greengrass with the Bourne movies - seems to be enjoying himself in this high-profile franchise. Batman Begins was a great entry into the Batman-centered universe with an electric performance by Christian Bale, a great acting ensemble, amazing action sequences and a great reimagining of the Bat-verse (who didn't love that Bat mobile?). With the Dark Knight creating endless online buzz and the ever-presence of Heath Ledger Joker taunts this is a Must Watch indeed.
[Also kudos for knowing that Maggie > Katie]

Monday, December 17, 2007

Georges Jeanty Part III, or How Willow is ready for her close up

Finishing up our tripartite look at Georges Jeanty's wonderful closeups of Joss's leading ladies, here I have the (albeit few) close up images of Willow - clearly this is a sign that we are lacking in the Willow department...

"Ms Willow Rosenberg is ready for her close-up Mr Jeanty"

Although I shouldn't complain. Joss and Dark Horse seem to be in this for the long haul. We can only hope that throughout Season 8's run we get more Willow, and (if my prayers are to be answered by some CG Angel) an Anya/Andrew standalone issue (I'm thinking a 'Storyteller' type episode where Andrew needs to update Anya - who has been resucitated by an unsuspecting Xander, on what's been going on while all the while inserting much welcome pop-cultural references that our dear Ms Jenkins will not get. Hilarity will, of course, ensue.)
[Seriously - why is Jane Espenson not writing this? It could even include a flashback that includes Jonathan, seeing as how that Danny Strong character was a favourite of Ms Espenson.]
But alas, as per custom this idea of mine will be relegated to the wonderful world that is my mind (and no - I will not succumb to that fanboy desire to write (gasp!) fanfic... Here at A Blog Next Door we draw the line at that. And cosplay of course. )

Check out:
Georges Jeanty Part I, or How Buffy is ready for her closeup and
Georges Jeanty Part II, or How Faith is ready for her closeup

Saturday, December 15, 2007

FYC, or How Juno's Jen should garner more love (get it?)

Now blogging from far-away land Colombia.
Posts may be few and far between.

For Your Consideration (A Blog Next Door Style) - Juno
It's my blog and I'll FYC if I want to, FYC if I want to...

It has been a good year for comedies (Hairspray, Superbad, Knocked Up, Waitress, Lars and the Real Girl, Enchanted, as well the as-yet-unseen-by-me ones: Charlie Wilson's War, and The Savages). In come Juno, Jason Reitman's latest movie.
The premise: Juno McGuff (Page), a quick-witted sixteen year old (think Rory Gilmore if she had been a badmouthed hipsterish girl) gets pregnant and decides to give her baby up for adoption to a suburban couple (Garner and Bateman).
The movie - due in part to Cody's dialogue, Reitman's direction and the cast's acting, bristles with great comedic moments that have you doubling over in laughter (anytime Cera walks onscreen in his maroon/gold uniform for example). And while much of the praise for the movie has centered on its two "leading ladies" (Cody and Page) I was not as smitten by either as it seems I should have been. Cody's dialogue is plagued with that 'I need to be cool' factor for too much of the first half of the movie (punctuated also by that 'indie' soundtrack which only worked for me at the end). No one talks like Juno, and that's okay. But Cody invests so much of Juno's character in her inventive one-liners ("If I could just have the thing and give it to you now, I totally would. But I'm guessing it looks, probably like a sea monkey right now, and I should let it get a little cuter") that one wonders whether the eponymous protagonist would have been just as lovable if her quick-wit had been a bit... less quick. I personally liked her quieter moments and more mundane lines ("It all started with a chair..." or "I don't know what kind of girl I am").
That said, Page and Cody create a wonderful character that's hard not to love and put her in a situation where we care for her and by the end of the movie we can't help but smile whenever we she comes onscreen.
But if there's one lady anyone should be trumpeting for, it should be Jennifer Garner who does some of her best work here as Vanessa, a woman so completely sold on the idea of motherhood she can't help but not notice her husband has different plans for the future. Playing up subtler, more nuanced emotions than what we're used to (see the ass-kicking femmes she's played in Alias, The Kingdom and Elektra) Garner is so vulnerable as the yuppie housewife (who wonders whether the baby's room should be custard or cheesecake colour) that she stole the movie for me. A particular deepfelt scene at a mall, where the camera can't help but fix itself on Garner's face as she feels the baby kick before fading to black is one of the movie's more dramatic and emotional moments - a highlight of the movie and one of the few moments where one feels Reitman, Garner and Cody have hit the perfect note.

Check out A Blog Next Door's other FYC campaigns:
Superbad & Knocked Up

Friday, December 14, 2007

Summers, Buffy Summers, or How I'm Seeing Double (Oh-Seven)

I love Joss Whedon. I truly do. Check out the rest of the preview for Buffy #10 featuring the newest (and hottest) double-oh-seven here

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Golden Globes, or How Nominations are out!

Okay, okay, a bit late but I was stuck traveling all day (when will I ever be able to fly without having to have flights delayed, problems in immigration and/or horrible people sitting beside me?!)

Check the full list of noms here.

Nomination that shocked me the most: Californication for Best Comedy Series?!

Nomination(s) or lack thereof that kept me thinking there must have been a mistake: Desperate Housewives nowhere to be found?

Nominations that make me giddy: 30 Rock and Pushing Daisies getting 3 nods in Best Comedy, and Best Lead Actor and Actress.

Snubs that I am still mourning: Once (in ANY category!) and Jen Garner for Best Supporting Actress

Nominations that prove Oprah owns the world: The Great Debaters

Category that could just as easily been 'hottest men on TV': Lead Actor in a Drama Series (TV)

Nomination that represents us Latinos: Shakira for Best Original Song.

And seriously - can the HFPA not narrow down their choices? What was up with 6/7 nominated actors/movies in one category? Crazy.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Pushing Daisies, or How I Love This Forensic Fairy-Tale

'Love at First Sight, Death at Second Touch'

Okay so I never said I was going to leave my day-job and become a tag-line writer, but I do think it nicely sums up the premise of my favourite new show this season: Pushing Daisies - you probably know this since I've written extensively about it already. Check out Cheno singing here, my love for pies here and my initial reaction here.

It recently occurred to me that I should show some (more) love for the Pie-Maker if only to convince more people to watch this appallingly under-watched gem of a show (during sweeps PD was garnering a 'measly' 8.83 million viewers compared to the 14 million who watched the pilot back in October). And with the last produced episode coming at us tonight, today's as good as any other day to do so.

Top 5 things I love about Pushing Daisies:

5. Guest Stars done Right.
Far from the Nielsen-driven guest-starring spots that drove the latter seasons of such hits as Will and Grace (which I looove) and Friends (which I thank for 10 wonderful years) Pushing Daisies has managed to recruit (among others) Molly Shannon, Paul Reubens, Raul Esparza, Christopher Sieber, and even E!'s own very Kristin Dos Santos (neé Veitch) to create a series of amazing characters that populate this pie-loving world.

4. A Colourful Pie-lette. Above all, Pushing Daisies is a treat to look at. It is actually one of the few shows that makes me wish I had an HDTV.

3. The Cast. Where else do you get to see Kristin Chenoweth singing 'Grease', Lee Pace wearing deliciously stylish vest/trench-coat outfits, Anna Friel dancing at a rooftop in a beekeeper outfit, and Chi McBride wearing lavishly tacky dress shirts while knitting? The core cast has made their characters lovable, complex and above all interesting.

2. The Dialogue. Their words are better suited to explain this one:
Ned: I asked you not to use the word "zombie". It's disrespectful. Stumbling around squawking for brains? That's not how they do. And "undead"? Nobody wants to be "un"-anything. Why begin a statement with a negative? It's like saying, "I don't disagree." Just say you agree.
Emerson: Are you comfortable with "living dead"?
Ned: You're either living or you're dead. When you're living, you're alive. When you're dead, that's what you are. But when you're dead and then you're not, you're alive again. Can't we say "alive again"? Doesn't that sound nice?

1. The story. The facts are these: the premise of a pie-maker that can bring people back from the dead with just one touch is as fascinating in episode 9 as it was in the pilot - and that says a lot about how much potential the initial premise had, but also the deft skill with which the writers have been mining the premise and advancing the fairy-tale like romance between Ned and 'recently deceased and brought back to life' Chuck.

Overall, it is a fresh, tightly-written show with beautiful people that looks like a 1950s postcard brought to life. What's not to love?

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Pretty McDreamy, or How I'm Seeing Double

If I remember correctly Amy Adams (currently seen in Enchanted, Oscar nominated for Junebug and coming soon to a theater near you in Charlie Wilson's War - which if nothing else will showcase three of my favourite working actresses right now (Julia and Emily Blunt complete the trio)) has been touted as the 'new' Julia Roberts. Now, clearly many red-heads (and non-red-heads) have been labeled the new Julia Roberts for years now... none of them come to mind, but maybe that's a good thing.
But now, the star of that medical dramedy that has single-handledly destroyed my faith in American audiences' taste (reality tv might also factor in, but Whine's Anatomy ranks much higher just cause it's scripted...) - and former costar of Ms Adams is out to get the title of the "new" Julia Roberts. Or so it seems, I mean, why else would he star in the male version of one of Julia's best movies (and an all time favourite here at A Blog Next Door).

Patrick Dempsey stars in the upcoming romantic comedy Made of Honor, which ABND's host will not be lining up for come May 08.
From imdb: "A guy in love with an engaged woman [his long-time best friend] tries to win her over after she asks him to be her maid of honor."

Kind of sounds like My Best Friend's Wedding no?
Isn't it the same set up?: Boy and girl are best friends. One decides to marry and gets the other to be the maid of honor. The latter realises he (or she) loves the other one and will try and ruin the wedding to get the other (back).

But then, it seems the entire Whine's Anatomy cast is out to fill in Ms Roberts' shoes (and coincidentally by mining the 'bridesmaid' storyline): check out Ms Heigl's upcoming movie with ABND's regular James Marsden here.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Ten Questions, or How I do my very first Meme

The Ten Question Meme

So here goes my first "Meme" sent via ModFab:

1. When you were born, how much did you weigh?
I was born 23 years ago on a sunny morning in October. As for weight I have absolutely no idea... It's not information I try and keep handy. My weight, that is...

2. What's you're sugar poison?
Everything and anything. Baked goods (I'm looking at you Tim Horton's!), candy (I'm craving Starburst and Skittles now), chocolate (anyone have Ferrero handy?) and pretty much anything else (cheesecake! pies! chocolate covered [insert anything here]...!)

3. If you had to choose between meat and cheese for the rest of your life, which would you choose? Then be specific.
Meat. I like cheese, but c'mon: bacon? sausages? chorizo? beef? white meat? pork? steaks? burgers? any combination of the above?

4. What, in your opinion, is the worst song ever?
I guess I'm such a positive person [insert snort here] that I have never given this any thought. But then, the boyfriend for example would say that I'm just not passionate enough to hate anything. Let's give it a try: James Blunt's 'You're Beautiful' seems to facile an answer. Anything by Manu Chau seems too self-hating. So maybe I'll just go with 'Call On Me' (novelty songs in general actually).

5. Who was your favorite teacher growing up and why?
Readers will probably have noticed I keep dodging the specificity of the questions and privilege instead multiple answers: Mr Lovett in high school (I wouldn't have made it to Vancouver if it wasn't for him) and Dr Guy-Bray during University (where else would I have gotten my acerbic sense of humour from?)

6. What personal activity, when performed in public, bothers you the most?
Breastfeeding? But then that at least has a purpose - to calm a child (which really should always be your priority) which segways nicely into my pet-peeve: screaming children. But then "children" isn't really a personal activity is it? Hrm.

7. Ok, there's a $50 bill lying on the ground. You pick it up. Dumbfounded by your incredible luck, what do you selfishly purchase?
Probably a TV DVD box-set (they're so damn expensive this sort of disposable cash would make for an ideal guilt-free purchase). Maybe a Broadway show? (I have not seen as many since my move East, really). Or y'know... a scandalous night full of debauchery with friends. Would depend on my mood (and the company of course).

8. Do you have a recurring nightmare? If so, explain.
I rarely dream at all. Some believe it makes me uninteresting (but what do other people know about interesting, really?) but I think it just means I have a very good unconscious cleansing team working 24/7 to keep it from getting cluttered and wanting it to appear in these so-called "dreams" people keep telling me about.

9. Name one place on Earth you've never been, but vow to visit at least once.
Prior to September it was New York (done!) but now... Probably Australia, if only to go and visit the boyfriend in his natural habitat.

10. You notice that question #9 wasn't really a question. You feel smart for catching such a small detail. What else can you do really well that reminds you how smart you are?
I can use words like 'heteronormativity,' 'deconstruction,' and 'hermeneutics' correctly (what kind of Grad Student would I be if I couldn't?) On the non-academic side, I can (albeit less skillfully than others) tap into a mental imdb: just this past week I made it through an entire dinner being able to mention Sarah Michelle Gellar Prinze's roles as they related to the conversation in 10-15 minute intervals (prompts? D-War, Jason Behr, Joan of Arcadia, Southland Tales...)

Tagging for Ten Questions: POP COLONY, Tapeworthy, and QTA

Friday, December 7, 2007

Dark Knight, or How the Bat has evolved

And because the image is not quite as ubiquitous as the Warner Bros marketing team wanted it to be... yet:

Thursday, December 6, 2007

No Country for Old Men, or How the NBR Winner delivers

The National Board of Review released its winners yesterday and named No Country for Old Men the Best Picture for 2007. After watching it, I can't really think of reasons why they wouldn't have.
The new Coens Bros movie, based on the Cormac McCarthy novel by the same name is a great movie (if only for that ending that has kept critics talking ever since it came out - who needs closure these days anyways, right? Okay maybe some of us do...)
The cat and mouse scenario that plays itself out between Javier Bardem's Anton Chigurh and Josh Brolin's Llewelyn Moss kept me at the edge of my seat the entire time. Never will I be able to look at a male bob the same way. But Bardem is scarier than his haircut. His psychopathic Chigurh is a deadly weapon who only knows, enjoys and breathes through killing and has seemingly only one purpose in life: getting the satchel of money Llewelyn finds at the beginning of the movie. It comes as no surprise that the movie loses some of its rhythm when we lose Bardem and instead move into an unfamiliar domesticity at the end of the film.
Laconic in style as well as in its dialogue (most of the film plunges the audience into great lapses of silence), the film succeeds (and its best moments exemplify this) because it works within, stretches and narrows down on moments of painful tension against a gritty and gory West Texan backrgound: an awkward conversation at a gas station where a coin toss could mean everything... or nothing; a 'negotiation' at a motel where a phone ringing feels like a thunder clap; an inconclusive domestic epilogue; the opening of a motel door...
Superbly acted and perfectly shot (Roger Deakins' cinematography is worth remarking on) No Country for Old Men is worth watching if only to see one of the greatest villains to ever scorch the screen: I mean, when your first appearance involves a crazed suffocating-a-cop-with-handcuffs scene, you know you're in for a ride you won't forget. And Bardem's icy gazes and methodical gestures (with what aplomb he gives us one of the most asexual nude scenes I've ever seen) stay with you for a while after the silent credits start rolling and have left you with a myriad of questions and a sense of awkward closure that more often than not results in nervous laughter.