May 28th, 2012

newlogo

Edward Norton: Frida

I've been both dreading and looking forward to this one. I've only seen it once, when I bought it to add to the Edward Norton collection. I'd found it boring at the time. So I'm kinda excited to give it a second chance, but also not too optimistic. I do remember part of my disappointment was that Norton was in it for a few minutes, but there's a lot more to this film that I'm in a much better place to appreciate now. For one, I had no idea that this was directed by Julie Taymor. That explains how this is such a stylish movie. And we just had a scene with Diego Luna, whom I adore. My God, just watching it now, I really do see Ms Taymor's fingerprints all over the place.

But of course, this movie is all about the beautifully stunning Salma Hayek, which earned her a much deserved Oscar nomination. Alfred Molina is quite impressive too.

Yet this blog project is about Edward Norton. Even if he has little more than a glorified cameo, sprinkled into 15 minutes of run time, he still gives it his all. I for one would be interested to see him in a Rockefeller biopic. With just a few lines he does manage to convey such character and conviction. Maybe if he had more than 15 min I'd like this movie a lot more.
newlogo

Bernie

My bestest buddy texted me last week and said I should see Bernie. Two of his texts on the subject included the word "hilarious". I replied that I'd the trailer a couple times, but that it didnt impress me much. It looked kinda awkward and Christopher Guest-y. He assured me that it wasn't. A few days ago I tell him I've got in it my movie plans for the week, but if it sucks I'm blaming him. He backpeddles a bit, but still insists that the townspeople are what make the movie worthwhile. Yeah I guess I owe him a thank you for making me see this.

Actually I had been pretty intrigued by the premise. This all around nice guy befriends a cranky old lady, they become BFF's, he kills her in a spontaneous fit of rage, then then hides her body for 9 months and keeps people thinking she's alive. All based on a true story. Jack Black is the he and Shirley MacLaine is the she. There's also some Matthew McConaughey involved. And it's set in Texas.

The Texas aspect, I loved, to the point where its accuracy made me uncomfortable. This is actually east Texas, and I'm from south Texas (they had a really funny and 100% spot on description of each of the areas of the state), but it still felt like the home I ran away from as fast as I could. IMDB trivia tells me that had actual Carthage, TX residents doing the commentary, and I completely believe it. I also loved the little details. My favorite being McConaughey carrying around a bottle of Big Red. God only knows how much of that crap I drank as a kid. You found it at every fast food soda fountain too.

Yes, the local were hilarious. What made them funny was that they were oblivious to it. Some of their commentary was just so ridiculous, but they were completely deadpan. They did not know what they said was funny, and that's what made it perfect.

The cast was also great, also to the point of almost making me uncomfortable. Jack Black's Bernie reminded me a bit too much of the guy who ran my Daddy's funeral: incredibly soft spoken, sweet, and amazing at what he did. Bernie's motives in spending so much time with the elderly widow were purposely left ambiguous, but I felt that his portrayal and some of the minor details steered it in one particular direction (I'll leave it to you the potential viewer to draw your own conclusions). Shirley MacLaine certainly was a woman you'd love to hate. There was nothing about how she portrayed Mrs. Nugent that wouldnt lead me to believe that even the sweetest guy wouldn't want to put four bullets in her back. Matthew McConaughey was wonderful, of course. This wasn't a pretty boy role for him, which was kinda refreshing. I mean, I do love him being gorgeous, but this proved that there's more to him than looking good. And don't worry, I'm sure he'll more than make up for it in a few weeks with Magic Mike.

Do I ever start a final paragraph with anything other than "overall" or "anyways"? Whatever. Bernie really was an unexpectedly fun yet incredibly dark film. It dragged a bit, but I'm glad I was encouraged to go see it

Bernie - \m/ \m/ \m/
newlogo

Edward Norton: Red Dragon

I've said this before, but the one downside to cranking out multiple reviews in a short period of time is that I tend to run out of steam. I swear I'm trying to keep these full and comprehensive.

I actually saw Red Dragon before Silence of the Lambs (again, chasing down Edward Norton movies). I used to say I liked Dragon better (blasphemy, I know), but in retrospect I think it was mostly because I saw it first. This was my intro to Hannibal Lecter. Also, as far as how the stories are written, Dragon came first. So seeing Lambs second really felt like a sequel. I dont wanna say it felt recycled, but there is definitely a sameness to the structure. Now that I can better appreciate Lambs, I'd consider it a tie, but I wont volunteer that information.

While most of the attention for this movie (and really this franchise) is on Anthony Hopkins as Hannibal Lector (which is incredibly deserved attention), this is actually a good showcase for Norton as well. He really does carry much of the movie, and he's the anchor. He's our hero that we're sympathetic to, who is figuring out the story, who we're cheering for. He's so subdued and subtle, which is a perfect contrast to Hopkins' iconic Lector. I know I'm reaching blasphemous territory again, but I'd take his Will Graham over Jodie Foster's Clarice Starling. Maybe that's just because it's my boy Ed.

Also a truly standout performance from Ralph Fiennes. I'm pretty sure this is the first movie of his I ever saw. His bad guy is just as scary if not more so than Lector. But he's also got a sweet and vulnerable side when he's playing off of Emily Watson's Reba. The difference is insane. I actually find myself feeling jealous of her being with him, and then I'm freaked the \m/ out a few scenes later. I actually find their relationship and the way it plays out far scarier than the serial killer thing. Crazy guy running around killing people, been there. But crazy guy starting a relationship with a girl, and having to fight off his inner demons who want him to sacrifice her, and she's none the wiser? *shudder*

The list of fantastic supporting cast grows from there: Phillip Seymour Hoffman, Harvey Keitel, Mary-Louise Parker. Such a shame that this movie is so often overlooked. Yeah, its in the shadow of one of the greatest movies of its genre, but that doesnt mean that they shouldnt be able to coexist