Saturday, September 27, 2014


So I've been writing more, and reading more, and generally doing more and it is working out pretty well. Sadly I haven't been writing more in my actual blog which is silly so I am going to do that now. I was thinking of tackling the christian persecution complex but seriously that is a really big issue that is worthy of a book not a Saturday night blog post where I have a headache. So instead we are going to talk about movies because I LIKE movies and I wanna.

In the past week I've seen an unusually large number of movies mostly because an unusually large number of amazing movies came out and it is one of those things where if you don't see them you are going to miss them. Then to add to it I watched some more movies at home because I guess that is the thing to do this week. To start off with I want to talk about God's Pocket.

God's Pocket is one of those extremely rare pitch black comedies that flutters into my life like some glorious bird and takes roost in my heart. It is a simple movie about poor people living in a run down part of some nameless city. In all likelihood it is Boston but it really could be anywhere. Where it is isn't important. The movie is narrated by a columnist for the local paper who's life is quickly spiraling out of control due to alcoholism and a crushing loneliness. There is a line in the movie that goes something like, “The one thing no one from God's Pocket can forgive is no being from God's Pocket”. That is where we get our main character played by Hoffman, an outsider, small time mafia goon, who is in love with a wife he can't please.

It is a sad strange little movie. Centered around the murder of a boy who is by all accounts an asshole who was heading for disaster one way or another. The subsequent coverup of the murder and Hoffman's attempts to pay for a funeral he can't afford. I found it engaging and more than a little sweet but sad at the same time. It is a surprisingly slippery movie. It is less a sequential story told with pictures and more of a series of moods, emotions and memories. It transcends the, “and this happened then this happened plot” and instead it drifts about almost as a surreal slice of life. I understand why it isn't very well received. It is a strange movie on par with Only God Forgives or Cosmopolis but it doesn't look, sound or feel strange. It just creeps up on you and then there is this conflagration of events cascading to disaster and while you know how we got there you can't help but think, “jesus this is such a strange movie”. It ends on a sad not then a bittersweet one. It also ends in Florida. I liked it very much and months from now when I watch it again I feel like I will be continued to be mystified by its mix of banality and disaster. Good times.

I also watched Walk Among the Tombstones. This movie is brilliant. Absolutely brilliant. By the end of this movie my back cramped up and I had to wheeled out an a stretcher because I was in a perpetual cringe. The movie made me feel gross. Like honest to god gross. My soul needed a shower. Best movie I've seen of its kind since 8mm. I can hear the question now, “What about A Serbian Film” and it is actually a good question. What sets 8mm and Tombstone apart is the distinct lack of onscreen violence. Tombstones is a movie about two men who stalk, kidnap, then mutilate women for fun and profit. There is this moment where one guy plans on using a garrote to sever a woman's breast and yet they don't show it. The level on onscreen violence for Tombstones is about zero. The amount of blood spilled is miniscule. The deathtoll is low even when you consider the entire career of the two killers and yet the movie itself was absolutely chilling. It did this by letting the viewer's imagination do the heavy lifting. It cuts away just in time but you can hear the screams. The two actors who play the killers do so with absolute perfection and we watch with dread as the killers stalk a new victim while somewhere far to far away Liam Nieson does his best to unravel the mystery of the killer's identity and you know deep down inside that he is to far away to catch them in time.

The moive exudes a deep breathless air. One of details I love about the movie is that Nieson isn't this island of a man who talks to no one, has no friends, and does everything by himself. It isn't true. He is friends with the waitress at the diner. He goes to AA meetings which is how the plot of this particular movie gets started. He befriends a homeless black boy halfway through. People are his main source of information. He doesn't just blunder into information, or he doesn't just have that one friend in the fbi who owes him a favor and he grudgingly cashes it in to move the damn plot along. No. Instead we are treated to a competently written procedural as our hero tries to get information for people he doesn't like.

When the movie ends it doesn't feel like it is over so much as it feels like you are being released from its clutches so that you may go home and be thankful that you aren't any of the characters in this movie. It is a damn good and I am sad more people aren't going to go see it.

Lets contrast it with the Equalizer. Man was the Equalizer a terrible movie and what's worse is that I am predisposed to like the Equalizer. I love movies about people who try to escape from their previous lives but their lives catch up to them either because of circumstance or they just get drawn back in. History of Violence is my penultimate example of the genera but there are many others as well. Including the Equalizer. The problem is that the movie had no focus. The trailers made it look like he was going to save a young girl from a life of prostitution. That means PIMPS! I love Pimps as movie villains no matter what happens to them I don't feel bad at all. Instead it is the Russian mafia. That's cool I guess. Russian mafia is in. Still pimps I still hate them but when the whole situation resolved itself within the first half hour I was a little confused. Then he did this thing with some dirty cops. Then there was this bad ass Russian troubleshooter who spent an HOUR investigating to find out who our main character was. Predictably he was ex CIA. Not the CIA who spend most of their time reading files and using other people to get information for them. No this guy was the one man army CIA. The type of CIA man that makes you wonder why we even bother with an army when we can apparently just make one man killing machines. I don't know I do know I was relieved when the movie finally ended because I was so crushingly bored by the uninteresting action scenes that I couldn't care less.

Women have been speaking up about their portrayals in movies a lot lately because they are tired of being the people who are put into danger, or get mutilated, or raped, or killed, so that the main character can have a reason to go do the plot. Die Hard, John Mclain needs to go save his wife. Die Hard 2 he does it again. Die Hard 4 he is saving his daughter this time WHAT A TWIST. The examples go on and on. The idea is that a dead chick equals instant drama. This is a complex issue that is worthy of its own post so lets set that aside and refocus on the Equalizer because this is a bad example of what a movie looks like when the character has a no clear motivations for his actions. Plot wise the Equalizer is a combination of Die Hard 2 (because the movie isn't very good) and Die Hard 3. Yes he saves the girl from a life of prostration. She is then promptly and fucking improbably never heard from again until the end of the movie. The movie then shifts to Die Hard 3 as there is a man after Washington trying to kill him for the actions he committed in Die Hard 2. The problem is that this is all happening in the same movie and if you think this paragraph is a train wreck then it is nothing compared to the mishmash of things that happen in The Equalizer.

Going back to the girl thing movies seem to be moving away from the “girl in danger” plot point. Out of the Furnace has Patrick Bateman looking for his missing brother. John Wick goes forth on a murder spree because someone was dumb enough to kill his puppy. With the Equalizer it is a minor point and not the main thrust of the movie. Moreover it is becoming more noticeable when it is clumsy and lazily implemented like in Homefront or The Purge. It is a trend that I am more than okay with. And yeah I don't really have anything to add.

The general ineptness of The Equalizer was made all the more apparent due to the fact that I watched it in close proximity to superior movies. It isn't so much that it was bad but rather that it was lazy. All the parts that made Walk Among the Tombstones so enjoyable for me, the procedure of seeking and getting information is hand waved away in The Equlizer, and replaced with meaningless stuff. There was a vain attempt to make the villain seem like he might be an actual threat to Washington but the villain never got close. Not really. Our hero was always at least one step ahead. The hostages were freed long before we could be worried that they were in any real danger and the final conflict was just sad. Also I am done writing for tonight so TA!

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