Monthly Archives: March 2013

WYSHW Double-Feature: In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths

Like I said last time, I want to give Martin McDonagh some lovin’, so here it is, my (very) brief analysis/review of two very underrated dark action comedies, In Bruges and Seven Psychopaths.

"In fucking Bruges."

“In fucking Bruges.”

 

In Bruges

In Bruges is an assassin story unlike any other.  After a rookie (Colin Farrel) accidentally murders a child in his path, the big man sends him off to recuperate in kitschy Bruges, Belgium – only to have him killed off.  We are presented a classic game of cat and mouse but with some weird twists, involving film making, tourists, suicide, and dwarfs.

It’s easy to see how a film like this can be seen as a cult hit: it had a limited theatrical release in combination with a layered bait-and-switch plot which doesn’t fail to satisfy.  Admittedly, the ending is wide open, but never-the-less enjoyable.  Simply put, there isn’t another film out there like this one, at least, not that I can think of.

Featuring a bunny-loving Tom Waits.

Featuring a bunny-loving Tom Waits.

 

Seven Psychopaths

… That is, until Seven Psychopaths came along.  Granted, SP does have a bigger budget and greater star power, but it’s still inexplicably weird.  Most of you may recall the trailer focusing more on the dog-napping plot, but like In Bruges the actual story is much more layered.

The focus is actually on a struggling screen-writer (again, Colin Farrel) trying to put together a story that will blow people away, basing it on lives of those he considers to be “psychopaths.”  The result is an action-comedy-meta-explosion (metasplosion?).  The film itself was fairly successful, though it received mixed reviews.  Perhaps some people just thought it was too strange – I say it gives the movie flavor. Seven Psychopaths is a good time all around, but there is still heart – you just have to find it.

Both of these films are wonderful and gritty in their own right, and ultimately incredibly surprising.  If you were looking for a typical shoot em’ up, I’m afraid you’ll have to look elsewhere.  Now if you were after entertaining crime thrillers sprinkled with existentialist themes, you’ve come to the right place – and you’re among friends.

Next time on What You Should Have Watched, Bill Murray.

Oz the Great and Powerful

Goddammit.

Goddammit.

Ah yes!  I finally got some time to go out and see something new!  At first glimpse of Oz I’ll admit I was fascinated, but then when I witnessed Zach Braff’s voice coming out of an animated monkey, I sighed as heavy sigh of lost dreams – but really how did this fantasy epic fare?  Not that great.  Sorry, but I can’t properly dissect this one without a few spoilers.

We open up with Ye Olde Time Kansas, circa 1905 – even though I really don’t think we needed that date there, but whatever.  Also, a simple black and white filter does not due the concept justice – why not film with slightly lower quality equipment?  Why can’t you help us believe this is older without telling us?  Anyway, I’m nit-picking.

We meet Oscar, or “Oz,” your womanizing charlatan of a circus performer, on the run from a pissed-off muscle-man.  In his magic indestructible hot air balloon he is whisked off into the wonderful world of Oz, where his arrival had been foretold by the former king.  There he meets three magical witch sisters, Theadora (Rachel Weisz, who’s obviously the bad one), Evanora (Mila Kunis, neutral until scorned by Oz), and Glinda (Michelle Williams – gee, now what’s her alignment again?)

Seriously though.  How did she fool anyone?

Seriously though. How did she fool anyone?

Naturally Oz’s adventures follow what has now become the traditional Oz norm – healing a girl he couldn’t help in Kansas, realizing the importance of friends, all that good stuff.  So with this magic and whimsy we’re forgetting one important thing: Oz is a terrible human being.  Which is funny, because given the ending of the original we forget  that Toto was totally supposed to get put down, either that or it’s assumed that Elmira Gulch died in the twister – so we forget all the bad things if we’re given one really good thing.

Hail to the king, baby.

Hail to the king, baby.

Sure sure, in the end he does right by defending the good people of Oz against the wickeds, but he also lied to them, using his circus tricks.  And according to Glinda, that’s totally okay, as long as they have hope and something to believe in.  What kind of message are they trying to teach us here?  It’s okay to lie to people as long as your intentions are good?  There was so much room for character development, but I really can’t help to believe that Oz was still in it for the glory, not the good – and I guess that does come full circle with the original film, being that Dorothy calls him out on being a jerk, but there’s so much room for improvement.   (Also, where were the ruby slippers?  If you’re going to have tie-ins and references but not the slippers, why bother?)

Oz wasn’t that bad, though – aesthetically this film was fairly impressive, though I think a mix of some actual critters would have been appreciated, but perhaps that’s just me.  I know it’s supposed to be a dream world of magic, but if it only looked organic, then it would have been spot on.  Which reminds me, let’s talk about the makeup.

I guess it’s an unspoken rule that in a green-screen world there is little room for makeup application, which is to say there wasn’t much in this movie – not that it really needed it, but I think they should of focused more where it counted.  Specifically, I’m talking about our wicked witch, Theadora.

Sorry about the quality - it was hard to find one that showed most of her face.

Sorry about the quality – it was hard to find one that showed most of her face.

You see those eyebrows?  They never move.  In fact, the only thing that moves on her face freely is her mouth.  I know they were trying to make her look as malicious as possible, but those painted eyebrows just look like a bad face-lift.  She doesn’t look scary, she looks goofy.  Again, so much potential here and completely anticlimactic.

Oz the Great and Powerful should have been much better than it was.  There were some neat ideas here and there and a bit of originality, but in the end, this trick falls flat.  Ignore the man behind the curtain folks, he’s really not that interesting.

Final Grade: C+

WYSHW: Kiss Kiss Bang Bang

I told you I wasn't doing Brick.

I told you I wasn’t doing Brick.

Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (okay, let’s just go with KKBB) is such an odd little film that really not enough people have seen.  I don’t know why – it’s funny, there’s some action and deadgirl nudey bits… maybe it’s just too weird.

Alright…where to begin… It’s the story of Harry Lockhart (Robert Downey, Jr.), a criminal-turned-actor-on-the-fly who shadows real life private investigator “Gay” Perry van Shrike (pre-whale Val Kilmer) for a supposed role, eventually running into a real-life murder case with plenty of twists and turns – and I can’t emphasize “twists” enough.  Stuff gets pretty messed up, but I’m sure you’ve seen weirder.

As you can tell, this story is crazy-layered, just like the film noirs of old.  What’s great about this film is that they took the film noir motif and modernized it just enough to make this film fun and unique.

Oddly enough, Downey’s not the guy who steals the scenes – Kilmer takes his character and runs with it, producing some great one-liners on the way.

A Boondock Saints joke would be too easy.

A Boondock Saints joke would be too easy.

I know it’s lame of me not to disclose more detail, but KKBB is really a movie that you need to experience.  Watch for the dark and cheeky film noir lens, stay for the Downey/Kilmer bromance.

For my next What You Should Have Watched… hmm… I’m feeling saucy.  Let’s show Martin McDonagh some love.