Thursday, August 14, 2008

Picks on flicks

As my entertainment deficit continues to mount, and there's no end in sight to the surplus of time for me to kill, I give you some more reviews of my choices of cinematic intake.

Michael Moore Hates America (2004) It was one of those Tuesdays at the video store when none of the week's releases did anything for me, so I just walked around until I found this title, still in the 'new' section for some reason.
It's gotten awful cool and hip to talk shit about filmmaker Michael Moore, which he has coming due to his seriously flawed work and his demeanor. This title obviously plays into that sentiment, but it's a misnomer, because it's not really about hate or America, as much as it is about Moore's misuse of the documentary format. This one does it right, and getting to hear Penn Jillette and Albert Maysles go off on Moore almost stole this show. Three stars.

In Bruges (2008) Two Irish hit men cool it in a Belgian backwater town and turn out to make pretty awful tourists. Their fate is what you might expect for their type, with no shortage of graphic touches one would anticipate. But the story is about a whole lot more than just that...along the way we are shocked find out their human touches. Plus, it all gets told with plenty of what I didn't see coming: laughs. The authentic Irish accents (and whatever you call the way Belgians speak English) make the dialogue tough to follow at times, but it's very worth the effort of backing up the DVD and relistening. Four stars.

In the Valley of Elah (2007) A young soldier makes it home from Iraq only to come up missing on his home base soon after getting back in the U.S.A. His retired M.P. dad (Tommy Lee Jones) wants to know what happened, and finds out with the help of a young police detective (Charlize Theron). One of the best Iraq war movies I have seen, even though it doesn't really dwell on the combat angle. Just the slightest bit overdramatic here and there, and perhaps too much time is spent in plot dead-ends, but the story and ending have enough twists and surprises to more than make up for it. Hint: Don't miss the details early on. Three stars.