FLIX PIX (1): “NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN and I’M NOT THERE”

cinema.

. The week of November 2007, I saw 2 much-hyped films and they were a mixed bag for me…

> Do not, I repeat DO NOT waste your money on NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN… unless you loved the way The Sopranos ended, and I don’t know anyone who did. It’s a gut-level fist fight of a movie cooled down by the listless ruminations of cowboy philosophers prattling on in a 10 MPH drawl.  NO COUNTRY is two-thirds of a great movie: exciting action, great characters brought to life by great actors, snappy dialogue from a literate source, palpable atmosphere via Cormac McCarthy, thorny conflict at a slow boil… then splat!  It broke open like a rotten watermelon.  I am fed up with the corporate, by-the-numbers formula-driven ‘product’ that so many films are soiled by these days, that I just love it when a filmmaker chooses the path less taken… as long as it’s a satisfying choice.  I really can’t imagine anyone being satisfied with the denouement of this mess.  The Cohen brothers with their great track record of unique, interesting flicks have the cache required to forgo that very common bane of the real artist- focus groups.  In this case, a focus group was exactly what they needed to tell them the truth: audiences want a satisfying third act.  The good guy does not need to win every time, but no matter who triumphs, there needs to be a payoff.   If you must see it, wait for the video unless you have nothing but time and all the money you need.  Considering the (non) ending, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN was not worth my time- or the admission price.

I’M NOT THERE, on the other hand, was a hoot and a half.  This wild, non-linear pseudo-Dylan biopic uses six actors to portray various personas of the enigmatic cultural icon, in a crazy kaleidoscope of a film that is consistently pleasing and surprising to both the ears and the eyes.  On this occasion the buzz tells it true: Cate Blanchett is simply amazing in her portrayal of the complicated Mr. Zimmerman in all his caustic glory.  It is a performance that inhabits the man rather than apes him- though she certainly has the quirky cadence of his nasal ramble down pat.  Other actors- the usually-stellar Heath Ledger for instance, don’t fare quite as well, though I loved the young African-American boy who played Bob in his ‘Woody Guthrie period’.  His front porch take on “Tombstone Blues”, featuring the mighty Richie Havens, is easily one of the highlights of the flick.  On the downside, director Todd Haynes does seem to carry it all on a bit longer than an average American audience might prefer.  Despite having thoroughly enjoyed I’M NOT THERE, I was glad when the curtain fell.  It was beginning to outlive its welcome.  I felt like I was witness to a really cool trick- repeated over and over again.  Yeah- it was a cool trick, but one began to wonder if this magician was a one-trick-pony.  Even the most startling illusion becomes tiresome if repeated often enough.

. But see it for yourself!  And let me know what you think. While not an unqualified success, I’M NOT THERE was more fun than the average cookie cutter fare.

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© Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast 2007. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Kevin Paul Keelan and lastcre8iveiconoclast with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

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About KPKeelan

Fool, Philosopher, Lover & Dreamer, Benign TROUBLEMAKER, King and Jester of KPKworld, an online portal to visual and linguistic mystery, befuddlement and delight.
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