Saturday, October 27, 2012

Seven Psycopaths (***)

Written and Directed by Martin McDonagh


There's a post-modern aspect to the screenplay of Seven Psychopaths that could be lost on a lot of viewers. A work of pretty extreme, complicated meta-fiction that seems to be a much more entertaining alternative to writer-director Martin McDonagh sitting in a room by himself and contemplating the direction of his career. But it seems like that was what McDonagh was doing here - well, at least that's what it seemed like his characters were doing for him. In the end, the complications compound atop each other until what we are left with is a highfalutin bloodbath, containing some fantastically oddball performances and the superb dialogue that we've come to expect from McDonagh.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Argo (****)

Directed by Ben Affleck


There is a very large (if somewhat transparent) part of Ben Affleck's latest movie Argo that is a love song to cinema. Or at least, to the power of cinema. The power that moving pictures draped across a seemingly giant silver screen can have on the mind of the common man - or perhaps an American hostage or an Iranian rebel. You tell a man you've worked in the Peace Corps, and he'll probably shake your hand and tell you he admires you. You tell a man you've worked in the movies, and he'll talk your ear off and remember your name for at least a week. This is what Affleck truly understands and what makes the movie work best. This is a movie about "the movies", even if it seems like anything but.

Friday, October 19, 2012

The Perks of Being a Wallflower (****)

Written for the Screen and Directed by Stephen Chbosky


When you see a film adaptation as good as The Perks of Being a Wallflower, it ponders the question: why aren't more authors trusted with the film adaptations of their work? Then you stand back and you realize that the answer is simple. Writing novels and making movies are two different animals. Novels are too pretentious and insulated; cinema is too vain and eager to please. And not to mention the abundance of evidence that occasionally, the original author may in fact be the worst person to translate their story to the silver screen. This is especially not the case when it comes to Stephen Chbosky and his adaptation of his 1999 novel.

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Looper (**)

Written and Directed by Rian Johnson

Looper certainly looks cool and flashy in all the ways a movie needs to be in order to be a hit in contemporary Hollywood fashion. I'm sure it fancies itself a sort of modern day Blade Runner, with it's future dystopian setting and moral ambiguity. Like Blade Runner and an earlier film by Looper director Rian Johnson, Brick, this film borrows a lot from film noir: cold cynical protagonist, over-complicated plot. And it's got some pretty good performances from two of Hollywood's finest young talents (Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Emily Blunt), as well as one of it's most consistently fantastic veterans (Bruce Willis). But there's still a lot about Looper that just didn't work for me, and most of that lies in its screenplay.