Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A Clearing, A Garden, Some Flowers: Three Reviews

Well, as I'm still incapable of writing anything significant, or even significantly well, I'm going to continue to bore you with film reviews of films I've viewed recently.

Today, I'm going to talk about The Clearing, Garden State, and Broken Flowers.

First up is, let's work backwards through the title, Broken Flowers, Jim Jarmusch's more-normal-than-usual entry (watch his Dead Man and Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai and you'll see what I mean) into what I'm going to start calling the "human insight" genre. It stars Bill Murray and, like Lost in Translation, is a great peek into the human condition (that's why I named the genre... clever, aren't I?). Murray is fantastic as Don Johnston, and Jeffrey Wright, as his mystery-obsessed neighbor, gives what is quite possibly the funniest performance I've ever seen.

The plot is simple (the most effective plots usually are): Murray receives an anonymous letter from a former lover informing him that he has a son. Murray at first tries to ignore it, but his aforementioned mystery-obsessed neighbor plans him a trip to find out who the mother might be.

Broken Flowers
is a very, very good movie. I hesitate to call it great, because the ending, while appropriately Jarmusch, wasn't very appropriate for Murray's character. Then again, who am I to judge?

Garden State
, a film written by, directed by, and starring Zach Braff, is EXCELLENT. In fact, of the films I've seen this last year, it's my favorite. Rent it. Natalie Portman is in it. Go see it.

The Clearing
is another very, very good movie. It stars Robert Redford and Willem Dafoe, two of our greats, and the ever-sexy-even-though-she's-old Helen Mirren. Yes... I just said Helen Mirren is still sexy. And she is. So what? She's sexy.

Anyway, Willem Dafoe plays a down-on-his-luck man who decides to kidnap Redford, a wealthy entrepreneur. Great tension, great acting, and a fucked-up yet somehow almost-happy ending make this one a must-see. So why is it only very, very good and not great? Well, Redford and Mirren, who play a married couple, have two adult children in the film. One gets the idea that the children were added to the script to give the audience someone more readily identifiable with, but the characters don't really work. The daughter is underused and the son... well, not a very good performance... and I didn't really care about him anyway. I'd have preferred a film with just Redford, Dafoe, and Mirren. The tension could've been much more taut and much less cliché. But definitely go see it.


Anonymous said...

um, jeff...i'm just writing annoymously to let you know that if a little blonde asian shows up at your's your child...oh wait...we decided a blonde and an asian, not a blonde asian. oops...well, i guess if a blonde shows up at your door then you will be providing the asian, right?

Posted by you have no idea... on August 16, 2006 - Wednesday - 11:21 PM

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I'll have to cite you for not properly responding to the blog topic.

But yes, to answer your question.

Posted by JeffScape on August 16, 2006 - Wednesday - 11:57 PM

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