My wife and daughter are in France for a month, so I’m all alone at home…unless you count my daughter’s dog, the hamster and the fish. I feel like a zoo keeper…my life has become BORN FREE in a tract home. But the solitude has given me the chance to catch up on some books and movies, when I’m not cleaning backyards, cages and fish tanks…
OSS 117: LE CAIRE NID D’ESPIONS
This French spy spoof is everything GET SMART wanted to be and AUSTIN POWERS should have been. It perfectly mimics the look, feel, sound, fashion and acting style of the 1960s spy films down to the smallest, lovingly crafted detail. And on top of that, it’s hilariously funny, too.
This a bloody, dark comedy about two hit men who are sent by their boss to chill out in Bruges, Belgium after an assignment goes bad. I loved everything about this film which, in terms of tone and violence, is sort of a cross between PULP FICTION, JACKIE BROWN and SEXY BEAST. I don’t understand why this movie didn’t generate some attention…it’s seemed to open and close in a weekend here in L.A.. It’s a shame, because this may be one of the best movies I’ve seen all year.
Sure, the stunts and effects are cool, but this movie left me cold. I just never got into the characters or the story. I found myself glancing at my watch, biding my time until the next stunt. It badly wants to be THE MATRIX or BOURNE IDENTITY, but to me it felt like I was watching a video game instead of an actual movie.
A post-Civil War western starring Pierce Brosnan and Liam Neeson, both of whom were totally miscast.
Not that it mattered. It’s a strange cross between OUTLAW JOSEY WALES, JEREMIAH JOHNSON, and RAMBO, and not a fraction as entertaining or fresh as those movies. Brosnan plays a former Union soldier (who apparently has Navy SEAL survival training) relentlessly pursued through snow-capped mountains and parched deserts by vengeance-seeking former Rebel soldier Neeson. Neither man is a villain or a hero which is, of course, the point of the movie, which is driven home with the subtlety of a wrecking ball. The movie seems tired, familiar, and pointless.
This isn’t a movie, but rather one of the hot galleys from BookExpo. It’s by first-time author Andrew Davidson and it’s a breath-taking, though problematic, debut. The story falls into what is becoming something of a genre unto itself: the “wounded man finds redemption and love with the woman who nurses him back to health” and who endures his agony by escaping into a
fantasy world of imagination and flashbacks. The story, as a result, shares some similarities to THE ENGLISH PATIENT, THE SINGING DETECTIVE and THE WATERDANCE, to name a few. Despite some familiar motifs, this is a brilliant, compelling, and darkly funny novel…at least for the first two-thirds. It’s about a coked-up porno actor who is in a terrible car accident that nearly burns him alive. It’s in the burn ward that he meets a woman who is either a schizophrenic or his lover from several past lives. To say more would ruin things. I was enthralled for the first two thirds of the book, as much by the story as the prose. Davidson is a master storyteller, and I don’t say that lightly. I can’t believe this is his first novel. The writing and structure evokes John Irving, Robertson Davies, and Susanna Clarke…with several “side trips” that could stand alone as mini-novellas (something Irving has done in several of his books by having his “author” characters share their stories or by using extended, anecdotal flashbacks). The book fumbles in the finale third, with an extended dream sequence and a limp, pointlessly drawn out conclusion that doesn’t satisfy on any level. It doesn’t matter. That small disappointment is more than outweighed by the brilliance of what precedes it. The characters, images and stories in this amazing book will stay with you long after you’ve finished reading. I strongly recommend it.
4 thoughts on “This and That”
I loved In Bruges, and I’m happy to see the movie finally getting the audience it deserves on video. Everyone seems to be watching this one lately. The playwright Martin McDonagh, who wrote and directed, won an Oscar for his short film “Six Shooter” which also stars Brendan Gleeson. It turns up on Sundance Channel regularly and is worth seeking out.
I’m with you on IN BRUGES. Mostly hilarious, occasionally tragic, with Ralph Fiennes’ best performance since SCHINDLER’S LIST.
re : IN BRUGES
A gem of a film, and one that both shocked as well as moved me, and good to see Colin Farrell in a decent role. The black humour is very black indeed and tinged in tragedy.
IN BRUGES is film that makes you think about loyalty, and the relationship between life and death. I’m glad it seems to have found sucess on DVD / Cable
Didn’t John Gavin play OSS at least once? I seem to recall that on late late late night TV many years back.