February 5, 2009
I had rented three movies that I wanted to see. Haven't found Bottle Shock yet, but I'll tell you more about that one later.
I have an account at Blockbuster, which is about ten blocks from my apartment, to say nothing of the trip down four flights of stairs as I set out and four flights up upon return. Friends have urged me to switch to Netflix, but for years I've defended the concept of browsing in the stacks and looking at the covers of the DVD's in order to make my decision. I used to check the cover for "Two Thumbs Up!" but those days are over. Now I have to make my decision based upon the actors and a general feeling for the mood of the film as portrayed by the picture and title. I cannot bear to see much of the actual film--as in the eternal clips and previews on tv--or to know its plot line before watching.
There are tons of good movies out there that I need to see. This trip I selected three from my list, Recount, In Bruges, and Forgetting Sarah
Marshall. I have a friend who occasionally reads the blog and is even more of a fanatic about not knowing anything about a movie he's going to see before watching. This review is for him, with the promise of no plot-spoilers.
Recount, made for HBO audiences, is already spoiled for everyone on the planet who was even vaguely alert eight years ago during the first election of George W. Bush to the presidency. It gives behind-the-scenes details that we might never have known, and is a very good, compelling little film, except I kept saying to myself, "I know how this is going to come out. And it won't be good." So the film spoils itself just by being. But the performances are wonderful and some of the scenes are just delightful.
I have been watching the awards shows with detached interest. I never care a whit who wins what, but as an inveterate movie addict, I just gotta know who's in the running. And, although I seldom agree, I can usually dope out who will win in which category even if I haven't seen the film. The title In Bruges kept cropping up, but I had no idea what it was, except that the marvelous Colin Farrell was in it, and the film has been nominated in several categories in the Golden Globes. The only category it made for an Academy Award, I believe, was Best Screenplay. Odd how a Best Screenplay would not produce a Best Picture, but that's often the case.
I rented In Bruges and laughed from beginning to end. Not that it's a knee-slapper. The laughs are dark as the film is dark. The situations are ominous and the characters untrustworthy. You really don't know what is going to become of them. They are doing terrible things. But then they'll say something funny. And they become real, multi-dimensional. They are wise one minute, stupid the next, evil one minute, soft-hearted the next. It is a beautiful little movie, but serious and somber, at the same time you're laughing at it. I just said I laughed from beginning to end. That's not quite true. At the end, I wasn't laughing. I just hadn't forgotten how much fun I'd had on the trip.
The third film was the biggest surprise to me. I knew absolutely nothing about Forgetting Sarah Marshall except that I'd seen that it had been liked by a couple of critics. (Siskel and Ebert, where are your thumbs when I need them?) I knew it was made by one of the new breed in Hollywood, produced by Judd Apatow, who was responsible for Knocked Up and The 40-Year-Old Virgin, both of which I liked somewhat. You might call Forgetting Sarah Marshall a romantic comedy, or a comedy of romantic blunders. It stars Jason Segel, who wrote the script and comes over on film as the next Brendan Frasier, big and attractive and bumbling. It has an intricate plot and a lot of great comic turns, notably Russell Brand as the English rock'n'roll singer with a bizarre philosophical outlook. One really outrageous character, the blonde and brain-frozen surfing teacher, kept reminding me of Paul Rudd--until I discovered it was Paul Rudd. Let's just say I really enjoyed Forgetting Sarah Marshall, and am now a fan of both Judd Apatow and Jason Segel.
With the onset of winter, I'm going to subscribe to Netflix and I'll do fine figuring out what to order. They may even have Bottle Shock.