April 3, 2008

Spring Break DVD Recap

Filed under: Culture and Media — Bob Gifford @ 8:08 pm

Last week we had spring break, complete with lots of DVD watching. Herewith, a round-up:

Michael Clayton: An excellent movie, if a bit challenging. The movie starts about three-fourths of the way through the story with a series of scenes without context or exposition. It then backs up four days to start at the beginning, proceeding until the meaning of the already viewed snippets emerges. It forces the viewer to be comfortable with their ignorance, letting these early scenes sit off to the side completely uncomprehended for over an hour. A great exercise in living with ambiguity. Oh, and the plot is good too.

No Country for Old Men: Lousy. The plot goes something like this: a guy takes some money from a drug deal gone bad, a bad guy goes after him to recover the money, the bad guy kills everyone. The end. Oh, and then the sheriff retires. Now I get the point about “no country for old men”, i.e. the sheriff, but there’s a hell of a lot of gratuitous violence to make a smallish point.

The Kingdom: Just a fun action movie, but with an interesting bit of social commentary at the end. Most of it is kind of a CSI Saudi Arabia, with a big final battle at the end when the FBI catches (and kills) all the Saudi terrorists. So far, a typical good-guys vs. bad-guys movie. But at the end, one of the FBI agents is asked what he had said to a woman agent to comfort her in her grief over the death of her boyfriend at the hands of the terrorists. He says he told her “don’t worry, we’ll kill them all”. Cut to the survivors in the terrorists’ household after all the adult males have been killed by the FBI, and a mother asking her 10 year-old boy what the patriarch had told him as he died from his wounds. The boy replies “don’t worry, we’ll kill them all.” All of a sudden, a cold splash of moral ambiguity in the viewer’s face — we see that this cycle of revenge and hatred will never end.

Sweeney Todd: A dark, but fun and funny, musical. It’s gruesome, but in an outlandishly exaggerated way that makes it comic. Some pitch-perfect (literally) comic turns by Helena Bonham Carter, Johnny Depp, Alan Rickman and Sasha Cohen. And a great moral to the story — when we seek revenge, we end up destroying those we love. But I found myself gingerly rubbing my neck for the rest of the night.


  1. Re: No Country For Old Men

    Hmmm, you and I are friends, colleagues, debating partners and “of a certain age”. I ‘m surprised you didn’t like this. I’ll grant that the exposition phase of the film was too long and cumbersome, but the general tenor of an old lawman (even if he was Al Gore’s roommate in college) who can no longer keep up, kind of rang true with me.

    I really like this film, but I may be alone. Mrs. Heracletus hated it and she’s way smarter (and prettier) than me.

    Comment by Heracletus — April 4, 2008 @ 6:43 pm

  2. Yeah, I appreciate the point about the aging lawman, but the vast majority of the movie was just a psycho chasing and killing people. Only without the theatrics of, say, Kill Bill.

    Comment by Bob Gifford — April 5, 2008 @ 9:23 am

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