Sergeant Gerry Boyle: The FBI lad, probably hadn’t had this much fun since they burned all those kids up in Waco.
A comedy as dark as black coffee and very much in the same vein as In Bruges (also starring Brenden Gleason and helmed by the director’s brother). Funny, though the humor is perhaps too reliant on inappropriate shock jokes and the lead being an ass, and interesting to watch even when the plot seems a bit predictable.
Annie: This is the first time I’ve seen you look ugly, and that makes me happy!
As a comedy it works pretty well, and it’s very much in the vein of the Apatow films, with the added juxtaposition of fart jokes coming from women in fancy dresses. As a coherent story, it takes a ton of narrative shortcuts and doesn’t really end up being all that compelling.
The Odd Couple
Oscar Madison: Look at this. You’re the only man in the world with clenched hair.
There are very few duos out there with the kind of comedic rapport and chemistry that Jack Lemmon and Walter Matthau have in this film. The humor is fairly outdated if that kind of thing bothers you, but its still a really enjoyable buddy comedy with all around great performances.
It’s October, and that means horror movie reviews!
Shaun of the Dead
Dianne: Just look at the face: it’s vacant, with a hint of sadness. Like a drunk who’s lost a bet.
A great subversion of the Romero zombie films, and everyone in the cast pretty much nails their roles. I did find the Ed character to be unlikeable and obnoxious, and I wish they had written in jokes with a greater density, but it’s a solid film.
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World
Scott Pilgrim: We are Sex Bob-Omb and we are here to make you think about death and get sad and stuff.
A film that puts forth a very colorful and slick, fast-paced product, but is ultimately hamstrung by trying to do too much too fast. The quirky hipsters are more entertaining than some of their counterparts in other films, but ultimately the story feels rushed and the payoffs don’t seem earned.
Bob McKenzie: This movie was shot in 3B – three beers – and it looks good, eh?
One of the many movies that illustrate why successful comedy sketches shouldn’t be expanded into 90 minute movies. A very odd beer-based Hamlet adaptation filled with a painful lack of jokes and far more goofy childishness than I could palate.
In the Loop
Malcolm Tucker: Just fucking do it! Otherwise you’ll find yourself in some medieval war zone in the Caucasus with your arse in the air, trying to persuade a group of men in balaclavas that sustained sexual violence is not the fucking way forward!
One of the most impressive and hilarious satirical films I’ve seen in ages. The movie manages to fit in scathing political commentary while turning profanity into an art form.
The Quiet American is Graham Greene’s look at Vietnam during the French war’s waning years.
As I may have mentioned before, Graham Greene is a phenomenal author, and this book may have been the most immediately engaging of his works that I’ve encountered. After a few months of wading through masses of history texts for graduate school, it was incredibly refreshing to read a tightly paced bit of fiction. What is especially great with Greene, that you rarely see in modern literature, is his economy and control of language. He is able to show you everything you need to know about the characters and setting in the fewest words possible, and leaves it up to the readers to fill in the rest. The only other author that I feel really has the same kind of control with is works is Hemingway, which is pretty great company to be in.
The story itself is in his usual tragi-comedy vein: a series of events so frustratingly sad that you’re forced to laugh to avoid the pain of it all. The book is a complex examination of the nature of love, duty, loyalty and belief. Similar to Nick in the Great Gatsby, the protagonist clings to a false notion of neutrality that he constantly violates, while finding fault with the deluded or naive notions of those around him. He’s an old broken down journalist slowly wasting away in Southeast Asia slinging jaded jabs at everyone around here and constantly struggling between his selfish nature and his sense of what’s right. There is the added back drop of a strangely non-confrontational love triangle (though love is barely the appropriate word), and a war so horribly misunderstood by everyone involved that it has devolved into a bloody farce. My favorite turn in the Quiet American is neither Greene’s development of a phenomenally complicated dynamic between the characters, or his harsh indictment of the Western powers and their staggeringly poor approach to Vietnam. What I really appreciate is the subtle, and never fully elucidated sense that Vietnam and the Vietnamese people are so culturally different from anyone in the book that everyone simply projects what they like onto them. Rather than come to turns with the social and emotional divide between them, the western characters simply imagine them to be inscrutable or simple, thereby setting themselves up to lose before they even begin.
The Quiet American is a great book, and I was sorely disappointed when I finished reading because I had grown so quickly attached to the setting and story. While it is nearly endlessly bleak, it is far more in line with the oddly satisfying bleakness of the Third Man, rather than the soul crushing depression of the Power and the Glory. It is in every way a masterfully written piece of fiction, and I don’t know that I could possibly recommend it enough.
A bizarre mix of heist film, old school World War 2 adventure, and cynical hippie Vietnam movie. If they hadn’t put together such a fantastic cast (Donald Sutherland, Clint Eastwood, Don Rickles etc.) it would have been a mess, but there’s so much talent that it works.