Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Weekend Watch

I watched two movies this weekend. They were almost polar opposites in terms of genre and directorial approach.

A History of Violence (2005)

This was the first movie I saw. It seems like ages since I have seen a good action/thriller flick. And this didn't let me down. It was everything an action/thriller is meant to be. The narrative is a sprint. David Cronenberg just straps you in and takes you for a spin through the beautiful roads of a small town in Indiana. There are no pit stops or rest areas. This is not a marathon but a sprint.

One of the most beautiful aspects of this movie, is the characterization of the 'bad guys'. Ed Harris and William Hurt play these with an exquisite blend of coldness and creepiness, that has been very rarely been seen on film. Also the shorter length of the movie (96 min) was a refreshing change.

Tom Stall is your ideal family man. Great father, great husband and a diner owner who is loved by the people of this small town. The family portrait is disturbed one day when two criminals on a murder spree turn up at Tom Stall's diner. He reacts with alacrity to save his female worker and send these criminals to their fate. With that comes the swarm of TV cameras. And that brings some visitors from out of town. What follows is a peek into Tom Stall's past.

Is he the family man that his wife, kids, community and us believe him to be?

Warning: It has some serious graphic violence. Not over drawn out gore but authentic depictions of violence which may make you squirm.

I should also mention that this movie contains one of the most intense sex scenes seen on film in the recent past. As with all the best scenes of this nature, it is not about the nudity but about the two people involved in it.

My Rating - 4 out of 5

Broken Flowers (2005)

A movie of this nature demands certain characterstics of its viewers. A certain level of maturity and a contemplative nature is just a few of them. Without these, it maybe difficult to appreciate the elegance of its movie.

Jim Jarmusch's directorial style is very non-invasive. His camera is content to observe than to sneek in and peak within.

Don Johnston (Bill Murray) is at that stage in his life where he is passive about most things. Even when his current girlfriend (The oh-so-beautiful Julie Delpy) decides to leave him, his reaction is one of an inert nature. He just lies down on his couch and takes a nap. Literally.

Even when he gets an anonymous letter from one of his past lovers informing him of a son who maybe looking for him, he is not very roused. It is his neighbor (played by a delightful Jeffrey Wright) who gets excited at the prospect and gets him all planned for a trip around the country to meet all his past lovers in an attempt to figure out who the mother could be.

How does Don Johnston's journey end ? Well, that would be a spoiler. So I will refrain from it.

I can't think of any other living actor that could have played the character of Don Johnston any better. Bill Murray's performance is a study in subtlety. He conveys the inertness, the disappointments, regret and fascinations with minimal histrionics.

In the end you find yourself leaving Don Johnston with the hope that you don't have to live through the regrets that he has.

My Rating : 4 out of 5

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