Posts Tagged ‘Ethan Coen’

Two Blondes Countdown to the Oscars: Best Director

February 26, 2011

The Nominees:

Darren Aronofsky Black Swan

David O. Russell The Fighter

Tom Hooper The King’s Speech

David Fincher The Social Network

Joel Coen and Ethan Coen True Grit


WHO WE THINK WILL WIN

Jessica:  Tom Hooper

Alison: Tom Hooper

WHO WE WANT TO WIN

Jessica:  I want Darren Aronofsky to win for Black Swan.  The movie takes so many turns and you’re never quite sure what is and isn’t reality in a delightful way.  Even after the movie ended I spent a while in my head trying to sort out what was real and I like movies that leave you still dissecting what went down hours after they have ended.  In Black Swan, those plot pirouettes (Get it?  Because it’s a ballet movie!) are due to Aronofsky.

Alison: I’d be happy with either Tom Hooper or Darren Aronofsky. I’ve always been an Aronofsky fan, and Black Swan is like no movie I’ve seen before. And The King’s Speech is pure filmmaking excellence.

Two Blondes Go to a Movie: Burn After Reading

September 22, 2008

Two Blondes review a movie and ramble about themselves.

Alison says:

I am a Coen Brothers fan for one reason… “The Big Lebowski.” It is my favorite movie ever. I have been to Lebowski Fest three times. I even won “Best Maude.” And yes, I am very proud of that. And yes, I would call myself a Coen Brothers fan and not just because of my love for the Dude. But I didn’t love “Burn After Reading.” I liked it, but no, I will not be attending any festivals dedicated to this film, though I would attend a fan club for Richard Jenkins or J.K. Simmons after their performances in the film.

I was also really impressed with Brad Pitt’s performance There’s no question about Brad’s movie star quotient. It’s big, the biggest. But my favorite BP performances don’t involve him being a super star. It’s his “smaller” side performances that are truly awesome. Let’s rewind to 1993. Brad plays a small role as an LA stoner named Floyd in “True Romance.” He’s hilarious and perfect in this role. Another favorite “small” performance is his role of a crazy guy in “Twelve Monkeys.” He commits to that role fully. Then, there’s his portrayal of Mickey in “Snatch.” And of course we can’t forget “Thelma and Louise,” where the world first learned about Brad’s charm and abs. Maybe I’m just nostalgic for movies from the early 90’s, but I love seeing Brad playing more than just a hot guy. And he does that in “Burn After Reading,” In a scene with John Malkovich, he’s trying to act tough and mysterious. He does these little eye movements that cracked me up. There’s an earnestness and blind optimism that shines through in this character and shows Brad’s got comic chops. I also want to give a shout out to whomever did hair on “Burn After Reading.” Brad’s horribly tacky blond tips were stupendous.

With a lot of movies and TV shows, I usually find myself predicting what’s gonna happen. But I was happily surprised with some of the narrative and the violence in this movie. It felt really good to not know what was coming. But overall the film felt a bit disjointed to me. The whole didn’t always seem to match its parts and I also just didn’t care enough the characters to get super into the movie. I found myself wondering more about who Tilda Swinton’s dermatologist is, rather than being invested in what was happening to the characters.

LA Viewers: This movie is worth paying matinee price at the Grove.
Translation for non-LA viewers: If you can catch a matinee and go half price, go see this movie.

Jessica says:

How do the Coen brothers manage to get such attractive people to agree to look like such…dorks, for lack of a better word, in their films?  It’s impressive.  Brad Pitt actually seems to revel in his character’s dorkiness.  Well, let me back up.  I should probably explain that I am not a huge Coen Brothers fan.  I don’t dislike their work; I’m just not a fan.  I’ve seen Fargo and The Big Lebowski (but only once—I’ve been told I need to see it about three more times to really ‘get it’)*.

So, back to Burn After Reading, for the most part, I thought it was pretty funny.  John Malkovich was as creepy as always, but the performances I enjoyed the most were J.K. Simmons and Richard Jenkins.  I love J.K. Simmons in everything I’ve ever seen him in really.  They are both character actors, so let me help you out with where you might have seen them before:  J.K. Simmons was the dad in Juno and Dr. Skoda on Law & Order and Richard Jenkins was Nathaniel Fisher on Six Feet Under.

Now, I knew I was watching a Coen brothers’ movie and I knew that meant dark comedy and the possibility of some surprising violence.  Yet, somehow I got lulled into a relaxed state by the comedy/spy plot and then BAM you see someone get shot in the head with brain splatter.  That was mildly startling compared to seeing a character get axed in the face in the middle of the street.  I literally jumped and covered my face with my hands when the axe came down.  I’m afraid I really am my mother’s daughter.  She’s been complaining about violence in movies and TV for as long as I can remember and now apparently, so am I.  Oh, yeah, SPOILER ALERT.  Was I supposed to say that at the beginning?

Something about the whole film was just not quite right.  I had issues with the score.  It was written as if the movie was an actual spy thriller.  Imagine the score to The Fugitive and cut to Brad Pitt with frosted highlights sucking from a water bottle.  I’m sure that was supposed to be ironic, but it made me a little uneasy.  I was trying to decide if I was supposed to be horrified that I just saw someone get axed in the face or amused.  The feeling I ended up with was uncomfortable.

I recommend seeing it as a matinee.

*Alison vows to remain my friend, despite this fact.