Monday, March 03, 2008

Two movies you should see

You like that? Don't go seeing movies on your own, people. Just listen to your old pal Jeff, who learned to talk from Bob Dole.

But seriously, folks, I saw a couple of films recently that, to me, were below the radar yet turned out to be pretty decent. And away we go.

Does this involve me dressing up as Little Bo Peep?: "The Proposition"

It's nothing of a sexual nature, I assure you.

I vaguely recall this movie -- either Australian or British -- coming out a couple of years ago and getting generally favorable reviews. Alas, other than being some kind of Western, "The Proposition" was largely an unknown to your humble blogger. Good thing I corrected that.

The story is simple: An outlaw -- played by Mr. Memento, Guy Pearce -- is forced by a military officer (Ray "Sexy Beast" Winstone) to find and kill his own brother in the Australian Outback of the late 1800s. Why would Guy do that? Because (a) his brother is evil, and (b) his other, more beloved younger brother is being held by said military officer. Yep, kill one brother to save the other. Decisions, decisions ...

It turns out the brothers slaughtered a local family, and while Guy is off after his big brother, little brother is trying not to get lynched by the townsfolk. Plenty of tension there, at home with Winstone, and out in the bush with Pearce. This movie has atmosphere galore and can be unpleasant in places, but pretty much every actor delivers the goods.

Pearce and Winstone rarely share the screen yet are linked as conflicted men. Meanwhile, Danny Huston as Pearce's big brother channels Col. Kurtz and is truly scary. All in all, a very solid little movie that deserves a wider audience.

I'll be taking these AK-47s and whatever cash you got in the register ... : "Lord of War"

This came out in what I consider Nicolas Cage's stealth year, 2005. The few years before, he had done the kooky "Adaptation" and the popcorn "National Treasure." In 2006 we got "World Trade Center," followed by (cringe) "Ghost Rider" in 2007. But 2005 saw both "The Weather Man" and "Lord of War" -- two movies that seemed to breeze through theaters with no promotion or buzz. "The Weather Man" wasn't bad, and "Lord of War" is better.

Cage plays a Ukranian kid living in Brooklyn who eventually becomes a bigtime arms dealer, flying all over the world to buy guns cheap and sell them in war zones. This provides opportunity for all sorts of odd situations and settings, from vast stockpiles in the former Soviet Union after the Cold War ends to a cargo plane touching down in middle-of-nowhere Africa to avoid Interpol agents, led by Ethan Hawke.

There's some clever stuff here, starting with Cage's first lines and the opening credit montage that follows a bullet from the time it's made to when it's fired. In addition, Cage -- who's been guilty of multiple misfires in recent years -- is a nice fit for this role. True, we get his damn voiceover once again; the guy must have it in his contract to narrate every movie he does. But even that isn't a killer, not with our natural curiosity about how high Cage will rise and when he'll get busted.

Also carrying the day is some pretty good dialogue, courtesy of writer and director Andrew Niccol. That name sounded familiar, but he's only directed a few other movies, and I've seen only one of them: "Gattaca." That movie was kind of boring. This one isn't. And did I mention there were guns?


At 11:30 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One of the very few times I enjoyed NC's performance, the other being Fast Times and Arizona. Gattaca boring? It is like seeing into the future.

At 12:30 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sadly, when I think "Gattaca" -- and this may be the first time -- I think Norm McDonald.

At 5:09 PM, Blogger Jefferson said...

This isn't that installment, but it's funny all the same:

Hard to pick my favorites. Here are three:

1. I don't care what anyone says, in my book, Ted Kaczynski is not the Unabomber.
2. Is it just me, or is anyone else sick and tired of Nelson Mandela?
3. I have no tolerance, gang, for anyone who commits arson.


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