The claims that this movie was a lightweight Wes Anderson ripoff were unfounded. Does Anderson own claims to any movie ever made about a quirky teenage boy who has to wear a uniform to school?
The movie does a good job capturing the confusion and excitement of being a teenager. But it also adds other funny elements like the mom's ex paramour who possibly also might be her new suitor. Paddy Considine is hilarious in that role. Noah Taylor as the sad sack dad and Sally Hawkins as the mom are also well cast.
The story about the boy, Oliver is the glue though. And watching his courtship of his first girlfriend really made the movie for me. This isn't as good as what it is supposed to be a ripoff of but it's also much better than other movies of its ilk that I've seen. I liked it. Don't hold the Ben Stiller Presents label against it.
This police procedural was completely absurd for the first half. So absurd I wasn't quite sure what to make of most of it. It consists of a search for a dead body by a police team in the middle of nowhere. The confessed murderers can't remember where exactly the murder occurred. The search for the body isn't as important as the investigators just hanging out and shooting the shit about life.
The second half consists of a lot of discussion during an autopsy and some very serious goings-on thus shifting away from the tone of the first half.
A lot of this film reminded me of some of the Romanian films I've seen in the past few years especially the first half which reminded me of 12:08 East of Bucharest.
I liked this movie quite a bit but not as much as the filmmaker's last film, Climates.
I think that I originally saw this film back in the glory days of eating Peanut Butter Crunch and drinking sweet tea with Richard Judy in the early 90's. I remember being a bit disappointed in it because it wasn't what I expected and it seemed a bit cliche. What I didn't realize at the time was that this movie invented all the cliches while also subverting them.
I loved it on the second viewing. Pacino's histrionics were mostly held in check and I loved watching the realization of the shit he was in slowly creep onto his face. I loved John Cazale's creepiness. I loved the New York of the 70's. I loved that Skippy and Cortney lived in the building where the movie was filmed back when it was a bank.
This movie is great. I didn't know shit when I was 19!
Check out the amazing opening scene.
After seeing The Darjeeling Limited, I wrote, "Maybe he needs to adapt someone else's work. This is the third straight
movie about the same thing. How about a genre piece in the way that the
Coen Bros. do it. A Wes Anderson crime flick filtered through Godard's Breathless anyone?" I'm going to reiterate that statement after seeing Anderson's latest. Or how about a Wes Anderson Western?
And I'd like to add that he needs to either make sure he's adapting an existing piece of work like he did so brilliantly with Fantastic Mr. Fox or get back to writing with Owen Wilson again - or as Matt calls him - Anderson's secret weapon.
Don't get me wrong. I liked this movie. I liked it more than Darjeeling or The Life Aquatic but it was a bit of a letdown after Fantastic Mr. Fox. It looked great, the soundtrack was good as usual, and all the usual set intricate set pieces were stellar as always. But I was never really invested in what happened plot wise. Normally that isn't a problem for me - I long have been a tone/theme kind of guy rather than just needing a plot. But everything seemed so inconsequential. Anderson is so into the world he creates that it feels like he just doesn't know how to write a fully realized script.
But whatever. Anderson's movies are all good to one degree or another. If I was hoping for an A+ like I always am with his films, I'm definitely content getting a B+. And I wouldn't be surprised if I saw it again, I'd rank it even higher than a B+.
A couple of other thoughts:
- The kids were great. I loved all the little touches like the things they brought with them, the first two meetings, the dancing on the beach ... It reminded me of being 12-years-old and having crushes on girls. I would have killed to have the relationship this kid had in this movie. It reminded me of why I loved Bridge to Terabithia (the non sad parts) as a kid.
- I listened to a good interview with Anderson with Elvis Mitchell a few days ago. Anderson spoke about being heavily influenced by Truffaut's Small Change in the making of this. I can see that. I wish he had been willing to go more with that though. I haven't seen that film in years but I do remember that were very few adults in it. Yes, Ed Norton was fun, Bruce Willis looked funny, and Tilda Swinton was good. And yeah, McDormand and Murray were great too. But the adults in this film were much less interesting to me than a stop motion animation fox. Anderson also mentioned being influenced by Preston Sturges and Ernst Lubitsch. I'd like to see him go even further with that sort of influence. So never mind the Western idea - keep that for Tarantino and the Coen Bros. How about a Sullivan's Travels type Wes Anderson film?
I think this film is super important but I didn't find it nearly as enlightening as I was hoping after having read the New Yorker piece. I'm wondering if I would have liked this more if I hadn't read the article. The damn New Yorker ruined this movie for me.
It wasn't my original intent to see this movie. I was going to see Prometheus but the film wasn't working so the only movie that really worked timing wise was this one. And it's Soderbergh so why not?
And I'm glad that I saw it. Matthew McConaughey was f-ing hilarious. Everything he said, every facial expression he made, every outfit (or lack thereof) he wore was absolutely A-MAZING. Truly special.
Unfortunately, the rest of the movie wasn't nearly as special. It was interesting to see the inner workings of a male strip club but it didn't really go that deep with it. Yeah, there were some drugs, and some hints at seediness. But most of it was just a lot of shirtless dudes gyrating with a bunch of ladies gasping in shock horror.
Channing Tatum is really not charismatic enough to carry a film. I wanted more Kevin Nash though - he was almost as funny as McConaughey in a much more limited role.
This wasn't my favorite Dardenne Bros. film but I like everything they do so I'm always excited when they put out something new. Some of the key plot points in this film are a bit implausible but I suppose that doesn't matter in the end.
As far as this being a modern 400 Blows, I definitely see that but it is not even close so making those sorts of comparisons does this film a disservice.
I like to think about this film as what might happen to that poor kid from L'Enfant about 10 years later. There are so many heartbreaking moments in this film that are made bearable by being offset by the heartwarming ones.
All told, this is a good but not great movie and not the place to start if you've never seen a film by the Dardennes.
I definitely wouldn't put this higher than any of his other films from the past 12+ years but I still liked it. Kind of a Dead Ringers meets Eyes Without a Face Almodóvar style. And maybe a bit of Saw thrown in for good measure.
It is creepy, campy, and full of twists that aren't terribly surprising but still fun to watch unfold. And as always, all of his movies look unbelievable. All of his films stick with me for a long time after seeing them. The man is a storytelling genius. Just look at that poster!