Brendan Gleeson, Martin McDonagh & Colin Farrell (l to r) on the set of In Bruges, the best damn film I’ve seen in a very long time.
I had the privilege last night of viewing an advance screening of Martin McDonagh’s In Bruges and was quite literally blown away by it. This buddy-crime dramedy is leagues better than any film I saw in 2007, including the overrated No Country for Old Men and There Will Be Blood, and, at the moment, I have a hard time believing it won’t be my favorite of 2008. McDonagh, who looks disturbingly like Sting, has written a screenplay jam-packed with dazzling dialogue and intriguing, well-placed plot twists. It’s also uproariously funny, providing bigger (and better) laughs than anything that’s spuzzed its way out of Judd Apatow’s Doo Doo Pee Pee Academy.
In addition, the casting is nothing short of brilliant. Previous to his turn in this film, the only thing that has impressed me about Colin Farrell is his ability to use the word “fuck” more than the word “the” in casual conversations. As Ray, he expertly weaves a thoroughly convincing amount of pathos into a newly-minted hired killer who, for the most part, lives on the edge a pin and laughs his ass off whenever he loses his balance. He’s the epicenter of some of the best gags in the film and he never disappoints. A career-making performance. The doughy and loveable Brendan Gleeson plays Ray’s mentor Ken, a seasoned and unlikely assassin, who serves as the voice of reason amidst a chaotic and ever-changing situation that was supposed to be anything but. Gleeson adds layers of soul to man who has killed several people without blinking an eye. The normally eloquent Ralph Fiennes surprises as their expletive-laced, don’t-fuck-with-me boss Harry, who’s performance has been compared to Ben Kingley’s Don Logan in Sexy Beast, but he slowly massages Harry into a more complex and nuanced character than Logan, just stopping short of the point where you don’t want to see him die in a really horrible way.* The rest of the cast is stellar as well, from “little person” Jordan Prentice, whose previous big role involved being stuffed into Howard the Duck’s costume, as the horse-tranquilizer-gobbling dwarf actor Jimmy, to Eric Godon, who plays Belgian antique and gun dealer Yuri, an odd man who turns the word “alcove” into one of the funniest utterances ever.
Hopefully this bloody and bombastic buddy film will find an audience, but the difficult title and the immensely clever but unconventional ending may hold it back. Too bad, because In Bruges is just as good as anything in Tarantino’s oeuvre, including Pulp Fiction, which it’s more inventive than in several ways, and McDonagh’s craft richly deserves to be generously spread across as many needy eyes and ears as possible. I’ll stop short of calling it a modern masterpiece, but there’s a little part of me that wants to pistol-whip myself into doing so. It’s just that good.
* Since this review is getting some steady traffic from sites saying I’m giving away a plot point, I should clarify that I’m not saying that Harry dies in “a really horrible way,” just that I wanted him to. Maybe he dies, maybe he doesn’t. As I indicated, it’s a surprise ending.
John Prine & Iris DeMent - “In Spite of Ourselves”
CLOVERFIELD: My pal Mark and I went on a gay date to see Cloverfield yesterday because our wives would have none of it. This is his review. It didn’t have quite the same effect on me, but, good cripes, was the shaky camera gimmick annoying. Looking at Odette Yustman, not so much.
Last night at the Rwanda Reporting benefit (great time!) I was talking with someone about this great vignette (featuring RZA, GZA & Bill Murray) from an otherwise not-so-great film (Coffee and Cigarettes). Enjoy.
This is a quick reminder guide for my fellow Big Applets:
Williamsburg: Go to the Rwanda Reporting benefit tonight at Supreme Trading featuring a performance by Francis and the Lights, free hard-to-find Rwandan food and an hour’s worth of complimentary Bass beer. The donation is a measly $20.
Manhattan: Go to see the wonderful and unique documentary Billy the Kid that opened last night at the IFC Center for a limited engagement. I haven’t had time to finish my review, but you can read some of the raves at Metacritic.
Manhattan: Go to see the long-awaited Holy Modal Rounders documentary Bound to Lose (and accompanying live music bonuses) at the Anthology during its one-week run (starts this Friday).
FANTASTIC DOCUMENTARY COMING TO NYC: The wonderful and unique documentary Billy the Kid is opening this Wednesday, December 5th at the IFC Center in Manhattan for a limited engagement. Carve out some room for it if you live in NYC because it’s highly recommended. Make sure to check out the excellent trailer at the documentary’s web site (or these outtakes at YouTube). You can read our review of it at some point tomorrow here at Rumproast.
UPDATE: A new entry for our horribly neglected Worst.Band.Name.Ever category. One of the bands opening for Mudhoney tonight is called Pissed Jeans. No matter how good they are a little part of me will always hate them for that.
Normally I only write “The Selector” on Sundays but I am so freakin’ excited about the new documentary Bound to Lose that I had to shoehorn in another post. The Holy Modal Rounders were the most godwonderful skull fuck to crawl out of the NYC folk scene in the early 60’s. Their first two albums, unimaginatively titled The Holy Modal Rounders and The Holy Modal Rounders 2, stand to this day as first-rate alterna-folk treasures and have thankfully been re-released by Fantasy as a jam-packed two-fer that is one of the best deals you can find on a single CD today.
I had the pleasure and displeasure of seeing the reunited Rounders twice in the late 90’s in NYC. The first show at the now extinct Bottom Line was a real treat, an ear-to-ear smile-athon ... just way too much fun. So much fun, in fact, that a totally inebriated Steve Weber (is there any other?) had to, quite literally, be dragged off stage. The second show I witnessed at the also extinct Tonic was a contentious mess, Weber and Peter Stampfel clearly not enjoying being in the same room together, let alone sharing the same planet. Bound to Lose appears to cover all of the love and all of the loathing and it has finally crawled (probably on its belly) to NYC for a seven day run (12/7-12/13) at the Anthology Film Archives. The first and last nights will feature performances by Stampfel (with Jeffrey Lewis & the Jitters—and an open bar—and Gary Lucas, respectively) and they’ve tucked all sorts of goodies into the length of the run (including playwrite and ex-Rounder Sam Shepard rejoining Stampfel for a performance at Pianos following the 12/9 showing).
For more information, check out the film’s MySpace page (you can see the trailer and an outtake there, as well) or look below the fold for the info I lovingly cut n’ pasted for your edification.
I guess this is as good (and appropriate) a time as any to brag that I was in Eli Roth’s fake Thanksgiving trailer in the middle of the movie (movies?) Grindhouse directed by Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez. I was cast as a “hooligan” during the parade scene and you can see me (wearing sunglasses) for approximately a millisecond right after the long-haired guy yells, “Get out of the way!” I’m the hooligan who spins the tuba player around. A pivotal scene and expertly executed. Here’s a screencap so you can see how fucking intense I am:
And here’s a take that didn’t make it into the faux trailer. You can see me running in from the right in the black jacket and blue jeans. Once again, bathe in the intensity:
And I took the photo below of what I nearly tripped over in the special effects trailer. I’m putting it after the fold for the benefit of my more sensitive readers. I hope your turkey looks a lot better than this one:
AOL (yeah, I know) has a pretty decent run-through of the 25 biggest box office bombs and if you ever wondered why you don’t see much of Kevin Costner or Warren Beatty anymore, well, look no further. And if you ever wondered why you never saw the supposedly-halfway-decent Heaven’s Gate, let me enhance your bewilderment by presenting The.Most.Awesome.Movie.Still.Ever.:
“Darkon” is a documentary feature that follows the real-life adventures of an unusual group of weekend “warrior knights,” fantasy role-playing gamers whose live action “battleground” is modern-day Baltimore, Maryland, re-imagined as a make-believe medieval world named Darkon.
FREEmumia has just posted one of their always excellent movie previews and points us in the direction of the trailer for the Coen Bros.’ eagerly-anticipated No Country For Old Men. Man, does it look like it’s going to kick some major league ass.
Listened to a pretty good interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air” featuring The Darjeeling Limited‘s Wes Anderson (director & co-writer) and Jason Schwartzman (actor & co-writer) yesterday. In the interview, Terry Gross asked Schwartzman if he ever got acting advice from Bill Murray and Jason told a story about a barroom conversation he had with Murray during the filming of Rushmore:
And then he also gave me a piece of advice that I’ve never really understood which, I said, “How do you know, Bill, when you’re in your character?” And he said, “How much do you weigh?” And I said, “I don’t know, a hundred and forty pounds.” And then he said, “Do you feel a hundred and forty pounds in your feet?” And I said, “No.” And he goes, “When you do, then you’ll know.”