Wednesday, February 20, 2008
Daniel Day-Lewis does deserve Oscar acknowledgement for being such an attention-grabbing force of arch, but he's pretty young, and I'd be surprised if he doesn't don a moustache again sometime over the next twenty years. Tommy Lee Jones can't play autumnal cowboys dealing with conflicted emotions brought on by a recent death forever, so I feel its only fair to give him the Oscar he should have received for The Three Burials of Meliquiades Estrada.
In The Valley Of Elah isn't nearly as good as that underrated film (probably my favorite modern western), even if it takes Paul Haggis a lot longer to smother it in gratuitous contrivance and "who's the real villian?" confusion than Crash. Jones' convincing performance helps tether the rural crime procedural, giving us something more rewarding to pay attention to than what's offered by Haggis, "one of those national dishes that is both beloved and reviled by natives, and sometimes horrifies people who hear it described for the first time" (gumbopages.com). A more straightforward plot that put Jason Patric and James Franco to larger use would have been great, but Jones is so engaging you might even forget that the film ends with a shot of a tattered, upside-down American flag. He's like Eastwood with a third dimension.
In The Valley Of Elah is one of at least three films critiquing the war on terror released on DVD this week, and one of two DVDs out this week to feature Josh Brolin as a dislikable cop. It is also one of two recent films starring Josh Brolin in which Tommy Lee Jones pays a visit to Barry Corbin, a genial old friend.