Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Movies watched last week, from favorite to least.

A small community helps a harmless but troubled local work his way through a kooky delusion. It's refreshing that they avoid creating villains - no scrooge is determined to shatter his fantasy or taught to love - but once the happiest of endings is telegraphed, strong performances can't keep the film from getting tepid fast.

The one that won the Oscar does worse than the ones that were nominated for Oscars, who do worse than those that were ignored, namely the supporting cast. While I was prepared for the effusive (if blessedly frontloaded) stabs at wit, I was surprised that the descent into adolescent romantic fantasy would follow a relatively stark look at adult ugliness. Diablo Cody could be the new John Hughes if she keeps things PG-13 and continues to tell teenagers what they want to hear, and I've got enough sympathy for the precocious and under 18 not to resent it. Oscar voters, though, what the hell?

Two fuck-up brothers in New York City fuck up royally. Why and how they became NYC fuck-ups or why we should care is barely explored, but it's something to do with family. Still in love with loud, Sidney Lumet avoids the ambiguity usually inherent in a story that moves back and forth in time; not only are the jumps announced with cheesy visual stutters, he provides title screens like "Andy - Two Days Before The Robbery" in case you couldn't piece it together yourself. The chronological cross-cutting's only real purpose is to make the tragic story less predictable, not that the score ever lets you forget how sad this all is. Philip Seymour Hoffman does a good job yelling, Albert Finney doesn't. What a waste of a great title.

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