Yesterday was a movie day. I somehow ended up going to see both Broken Flowers, directed by Jim Jarmusch, starring Bill Murray and an array of good actresses, and then A History of Violence, directed by David Cronenberg, starring Viggo Mortensen and Maria Bello. Both were decently ok, but I wouldn't pay movie theatre prices to go see either again. I have much better uses for twenty bucks.
Broken Flowers was actually quite viewable, featuring Bill Murray's new signature deadpan reaction to anything out of the ordinary. His girlfriend leaves him-- he falls asleep on the couch. His ex girlfriend's daughter Lolita prances into a room clad in nothing better than the cell phone pressed to her ear, he looks on and then calmly exits the house. I've somehow managed to forget the days when he actually had facial expressions. Not that I mind at all. He does manage to pull this thing off-- I simply start to worry what will happen when young actors decide to adopt this as their Brand New Inspired Acting Style because they are DEEP, dammit, and Hollywood becomes besieged by this trend.
But yes, it was an interesting story, though there was little to back it up. What there was was quite well executed. The lighting was magnificent and the soundtrack is vaguely stuck in my head. Unfortunately though, I can't remember very much of it other than a few shots, and I don't really think it's because of my crappy memory. Do go see it, but don't expect overmuch.
I was really excited to see A History of Violence, because of all the amazing press and the breaking news-- Viggo Mortensen can act? The movie itself is a critic's wet dream-- Beautiful beautiful beautiful camera-work, shots that make me want to read the comic book to see how all this was inspired, an overall average of pretty good acting, and enough unnecessary sex and violence to make it evident that this film is Cutting Edge and Taking Risks. Cunnilingus, coming to you, on movie screens nationwide! Viggo Mortensen's butt hanging out of his pants as he fucks Maria Bello on the stairs! What a man looks like with part of his face blown off! (In a shot that was a little too long.) I'm all for taking risks and Showing It Like It Is, but this was a little too much. Maybe my inner genetic Puritan is finally coming out of the deep dark little hiding place in which it has been dwelling, but there were a fair amount of times when you just didn't need to see that for the movie. The shots verge on masturbatory. Unfortunately, I haven't seen any of Cronenberg's other movies, so I may just be missing out on an essential part of his cinematic style, but I still didn't think there was any need for this. Leave the nastiness to John Waters. At least he'll camp it up and make Divine eat dog poo.
Camerawork aside, there were some other noticeable parts to the movie. Viggo Mortensen has more lines than in any of his other films combined (not that it was really necessary in his earliest works, where he invariably played Hunky Guy with the Cleft Chin and Long Hair) and it is discovered that he can actually speak! More than monosyllablically! And he even switches accents as he Switches Personas, proving that he Truly Does Understand the Value of Switching It Up. I mock, but it did work. What did not work, however, were his crazy ninja moves-- a little too jarring to be found outside of a Schwartzenegger movie. Maria Bello played a good horny housewife, and Ashton Hutcher was pretty good, though he may want to rethink some of his showing emotion faces.
So I'm digging for something to actively critique, obviously. The movie was overall pretty good, but somehow it didn't jibe together. I don't know what it was. Something lacking, and I could cast about vaguely trying to fit words to the deflated feeling that I and the other three people I went to see this with had, but... I don't know. It's definitely worth watching. It will probably get nominated for some awards or other. But whether it's actually a truly good movie, I'm not sure.