Saturday, December 1, 2012

Mo Vember, Mo Movies

I guess I have to apologize to everyone for becoming a Kevin James troll on CR5FC-FB for a couple of days. Everyone was being all serious about Lincoln and all I had seen in a week was Here Comes the Boom. I decided to embrace the online identity of a hardcore Kevin James fanatic. Sorry.

So, what about Here Comes the Boom?

It's about what you'd expect. If you liked Paul Blart: Mall Cop, then you're going to like this one. Every Kevin James movie I've seen, I've seen during work hours. It's hard to get too upset about the guy when I'm being paid to watch him. I could rant about all of the problems with Boom, but what's the point? It's a very easy target. I will say briefly that I almost, for a moment, really did fall in love with this picture. There's a moment in which the James character reveals his game plan: he's going to save the school music program by LOSING repeatedly. His plan is to win by losing. My heart soared for a moment at this piece of cruciform logic. Of course, the character ends up winning by winning. He's cooler than everyone else and can win any fight because he can and he gets the girls because he's shown that he cares and all the immigrants get their U.S. citizenship because, damn it, this is Kevin James's America.

Dark Shadows was a fun watch. I'm still not sure what you guys have against Alice. There's just as much CGI in the Shadows and the story is much worse, just campy soap. But, I guess if you're in the mood for campy soap, then this is about the best you could ask for.

Saraband, Bergman's last film, proved to be tiresome for me to watch. I guess I'm tired of Bergman's schtick. I'm a little bit disappointed that this is the best he had to offer at the end. There's a resigned fatalism that Bergman has developed that I completely reject and detest.

Killing Them Softly walks a thin line in nearly overwhelming its crime narrative with ham-handed cultural commentary. A television or radio is often playing a political speech or talking head commentary throughout the film, which is set in 2008. TARP almost becomes a character in the film. "Troubled assets" is the air these men breathe. All of this set-up is rewarded by the end, just barely hanging together for a wonderful payoff.

There are no "good guys" in Softly. Everyone (and everything) is corrupt. The film shifts between the two primary perspectives of Jackie (Pitt) and Frankie (McNairy). Both know that they are alone. Both know that there is going to be no bailout for them. Frankie is the common man caught up in a general economic collapse that he can't escape. When he takes a chance in a criminal act, it's obvious that he's reached further than he can grasp. Jackie, on the other hand, rides the collapse, profiting from the meltdown of morals and money. The final scene might be my favorite moment in any 2012 film I've seen so far.

There are so many great moments. The film is often surprisingly funny (funny in surprising ways) and the script is grand. The abundant use of pop music is immediately reminiscent of Scorsese. The editing also has that musical Scorsese rhythm. Throw in Ray Liotta and it's hard to shrug off the Scorsese vibe. There are other discernible influences and I'm not at all saying that Dominick's film is merely derivative (it's not). Softly can hold its own and deserves a place on the shelf next to Goodfellas and Mean Streets.

I liked Softly a lot. Now, I'm just waiting for Brandon to see it and agree with me. :)

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