Tag Archives: wes anderson

A Stupid Opinion of the Visual Style of Two Fictional Hotels

27 Mar

I saw The Grand Budapest Hotel and immediately went on a cinematic tour of hotels. The next film was Wong Kar-Wai’s 2046, the title comes from a room in boarding hotel. It was such a juxtaposition that I ended my tour right there.  The contrast and similarities of the two films sparked this stupid opinion. On the surface, the two hotels couldn’t be less alike; The Grand Budapest Hotel is mostly the height of style and sophistication whereas the Oriental Hotel in 2046 is a neglected hotel where more guests live than spend vacation. Even in the later years of the Grand Budapest, it still had more class than the hotel in 2046. Despite the differences of the hotels, they both guide the visual aesthetic of their respective films.


The Grand Budapest Hotel serves as the visual touchstone to the film. Even in its drab, rundown, communistic seventies interiors at the beginning of the film, it fits into the aesthetic of Wes Anderson. Then when the story returns to the hotel’s heyday, the pinks and purples launch the film into a whole new level of extravagant details that flood the senses. The hotel takes what Wes Anderson started in The Royal Tenenbaums and balloons it to the point right before it could burst in an explosion of corduroy, velvet and hastily tied bow ties. The hotel sets a high standard and the film attempts to fill the visual splendor with complimentary costumed characters. The cinematographer, Robert Yeoman, is able to capture all the perfectly centered scenes that really show the attention to detail that Anderson excels at. I have no doubt that Anderson had extensive and heated meetings about the style of lint that accumulates on the carpet of The Grand Budapest, and the wide angles primarily used in the film allow for this to be seen as well as let the story unfold on-screen. The characters interact with the elaborate sets, enjoy their costumes and let the events of the film flow along. It is the perfect visual style for the beautiful world of the plot driven Wes Anderson universe. 


Then on the other side of the coin, we have Wong Kar-Wai’s equally beautiful film 2046. As opposed to the grandness of the Grand Budapest, the Oriental Hotel in 2046 is left almost a complete mystery. The film may not even contain a single wide shot, instead WKW and DP Christopher Doyle opt to go in much tighter. The majority of the film is in medium close to close-up. With these shots the mysterious hotel wouldn’t seem to add much to the visual look of the film, but the slightly rundown hotel provides just enough information to reflect the people residing within its walls. The shots of the characters using the lobby phone cut off the head of the actors, showing the toll and insincerity of interacting with people outside of the hotel. The characters can’t be honest on the phone and have to hide their faces when using it. The rundown green wood-paneled walls are the perfect neutral background that focuses all the attention back on the actors. With the tighter shots, we get a more claustrophobic feeling of living in close proximity to strangers. Which allows the hotel to serve as the metaphoric meeting place for all the damaged characters. This is a beautiful character study of the injured souls that inhabit boarding hotels. 

The plot of 2046 film isn’t as important as the characters or the mood the events of the film create and the hotel supports and enriches those elements, where as The Grand Budapest Hotel uses the plot and the characters to showcase the titular hotel. Both films look stunning and are great examples of masters working their strengths for very different results. Let’s just hope that they never decide to shoot each other’s scripts; that would be a crime against the moving image.



A Stupid Cross-Cinema Dating Experiment

25 Feb

Most of films with aspirations higher than the opening weekend box-office tend to focus on failed love or romantic situations that don’t quite work. But, hey, come on, everyone needs a chance at love, so in an exercise of theoretical match-making I’m going to match fictional characters with other fictional, more suitable matches. Here are a few cross-cinema couples too perfect to even come close to making an interesting film.


Chris Hensworth’s James Hunt from Ron Howard’s Rush was a race car driving playboy always on the look out for the next exhilarating challenge to occupy his mind. Unfortunately, seeking that titular “Rush” didn’t leave too much time for a satisfying love life. Hunt married super model Suzy Miller, played by Olivia Wilde, only to get divorced from her four and half scenes later. The movie implies their relationship ended for two of the most common reasons all marriages failed in the seventies 1) a fight about skiing was confused for a conversation about coke and 2) someone was fucking Richard Burton. If Hunt only could have found someone seeking the same rush from instant gratification and being the center of attention, he may have turned out more than one Formula One racing championship. Which is why if this was a perfect world Rush’s James Hunt would have been introduced to Olivia Wilde’s Kate from Drinking Buddies. Kate loves to party and be the center of attention, which is a common interest the two can build their relationship on. She doesn’t really know what she’s looking for, but a heavy travel schedule of a F1 driver will surely allow her plenty of time to ride her fixie around London with extra space to let her eye wander.

The Biggest Obstacle: Besides the nearly thirty years difference between each of their stories, would be convincing Kate to show any type of support for Hunt’s racing. I don’t know too much about Formula One racing, but if she’s not a fan of Updike I can’t imagine her liking the nuance of taking turns at 200 mph.


Jason Schwartzman is a hero amongst The Wes Anderson Players. His twee-est characters thrive in the roles where they pine after unobtainable women. In what seems to have been a bargaining chip to get him to continue to pony up the goods as an always-seeking forlorn man-child, Wes Anderson wrote Hotel Chevalier where Schwartzman got to make out with Natalie Portman. That film and The Darjeeling Limited both revealed, that the romance did not go well. Schwartzman’s Jack Witman was a mopey guy prone to running away to suites in Paris instead of facing his problems, and when finally confronted with a problems sees the main solution as a shower and carefully chosen tune on the iPod. Now, Portman in Hotel Chevalier was never going to put up with this kind of yahoo, but do you know the perfect person to hold Jack Witman’s hand through the trials and tribulations of facing one’s problems? That’s right, Garden State’s Sam. Portman’s manic pixie dream girl with a soft spot for hopelessness would be a perfect match for Schwartzman’s Jack Witman. And when compared to the out of work, guilt-ridden, poorly tag-named, Zach Braff surrogate Andrew Largeman, Witman, even in all of his fleeing-the-emotional-scene glory, is a better catch. Jack and Sam can dance in the rain and ride mopeds until their troubles are forever forgotten.

The Biggest Obstacle: I wonder how the conversation would go when Sam tries to tell Jack that The Shins are going to change his life?


Lastly, I’d like to find a fictional suitor for one of my favorite characters from one of my favorite films of 2013; Samantha from Her. The artificially intelligent operating system Samantha is virtual delight and deserves so much more than the sad sack Theodore Twombly. It really isn’t that much of a shock that a super genius OS who’s hobbies include wormholes and quantum physics should lose interest in a guy with only one red shirt, but multiple melancholy playlists. Samantha needs someone with more intellectual and emotional meat on their bones, a harder nut to crack. Which is why the perfect fictional pairing for Samantha is Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash. In Cash, there would be the stark internal contradictions that naturally come with the man in black. I imagine every conversation would have the philosophical weight of the Walk the Line and Ring of Fire. Think of the collection of covers Samantha could suggest to Cash, if she was able to get a book’s worth of letters from Twombly’s day job. No offense to Rick Rubin, but it could be a collection to rival the American Recordings. There would be enough stimulation for Samantha to keep her from jumping ship to an extra dimension with the rest of the AI Operating Systems. She could mine the depths of humanity by studying just one person.

The Biggest Obstacle: Johnny Cash would never date a computer.

-C. Charles


More False Idols of Pop Culture

14 Dec

There’s been some discussion of which current icons of pop culture could represent the old gods. That post inspired a retort which pointed out some celebrities who don’t deserve the idolatry current pop culture bestows upon them. Really it’s just an excuse for me to rant, but I felt better after doing so. Well I need another cathartic release so it’s time for me to once again remove some false gods from their alters, exposing their fallibility and making them unworthy of any public praise.

Chris Hardwick

Chris Hardwick:

The pedestal he’s perched on:  He hosts a Comedy Central show about the internet (because that’s never been done before) and AMC’s Talking Dead. Additionally he makes TV appearances often talking about how cool geeky things are.

Why his pedestal should topple: He’s the perfect embodiment of how someone can get famous for doing absolutely zilch. He’s created nothing and achieved status using the shtick “I like the same things you like so you should like me too.” He leaches off material produced by other talented people that already has a mass audience and jumps on the band wagon for a free ride. First I saw him on Late night TV hyping Dr. Who, thanks for telling us about a show that’s been on for 50 years. Then Walking Dead blew up and he got a show called Talking Dead where all he does is talk about Walking Dead. What’s next? Talking Talking Dead, a show where he talks about what happened on Talking Dead? When I finally get around to watching Wreck-It Ralph, I paused the Blu-Ray and Chris Hardlick pops up “Hey did you notice this video game Easter Egg in the background?…” You’re a nonentity in this movie. Get off my screen you fucking Nothing! The final straw came with his show Talking Bad. I’ve been watching Breaking Bad since episode 1 aired 5 years ago, now with only 6 shows left in the series this imp shows up to tell ME what Breaking Bad’s about. Try taking a risk and making something unique or get banished back to the wasteland of MTV where your types belong.

Wes Anderson

Wes Anderson:

The pedestal he’s perched on: The movies he’s directed are known for having great casts and being arty, and funny. His next movie The Grand Budapest Hotel is already getting great press and it’s 3 months from being released.

Why his pedestal should topple: Think about the first 2 movies you saw that were directed by Wes Anderson. Mine were Royal Tenenbaums, then Rushmore, those are my favorite movies he’s directed. I’ll bet dollars to donuts you follow the same pattern, no matter which of his movies you saw first then second, they are your favorites. Wes Anderson has only made 2 good movies and those 2 movies happen to be whichever 2 movies you see first. His style is unique when compared with other films but against themselves they’re repetitive and predictable. Examples include how they’re all mostly set a in confined space; a house, submarine, train, an underground den. Every movie will have at least one shot where a bunch of characters all stare into a static camera with deadpan expressions. All movies feature a male protagonist who gets involved with a woman that he’ll never be able to keep. These, along with his other tropes leave me so bored all I can see are stupid plot elements. Am I really supposed to accept a train has gotten lost? When that kid in Moonrise Kingdom got struck by lightning then gets up and says “I’m fine” it marked the first time I walked out on a movie I’d rented. As for Fantastic Mr. Fox that stop motion looked so shitty, everything seemed lifeless. As if someone was trying to put on some macabre puppet show using taxidermy (which I would watch if done correctly, meaning not for kids). Go see Grand Budapest Hotel if it’s your first Wes Anderson movie. I’m skipping it.


The pedestal they’re perched on: By my calculations there’s about 8.13 x 10^42 movies, books, and TV shows dealing with vampires and it shows no signs of stopping.

Why this Pedestal should topple: See Above, also there’s nowhere else to go with vampires, every idea about vampires has been had and manifested in some form. Vampires are the most overused cliché ever. We’re saturated with every permutation of vampires that any attention grabbing hack can pull out of their ass. As for this current trend to make vampires young, hip, tormented fashion models we can mostly thank Twilight for. I’ll just say that in my day Vampires sucked blood, not cock. But I’m not going to hate on Twilight because it’s too easy, plus the problem existed long before that. Take the popular origin myth of the classic vampire, Dracula. Typing “Dracula” into an Amazon search will yield 22,990 results. Do we really need that many Draculas? (But I can’t find my favorite one “Dracula: Done to Death” Bonus points for anyone who gets that reference). Ever read the old Bram Stoker book? I fucking dare you! Cause it can’t be done, the thing is unreadable, it’s so awful. I wish I knew why people are so fascinated with Vampires. I just don’t get it and never will.

Felt good letting that out, I could use a drink.

Carl Wells

Plot Summary of Wes Anderson’s The Grand Budapest Hotel: or a stupid ploy for cheap pageviews

15 Oct

The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014) dir. Wes Anderson


The Grand Budapest Hotel was the city’s most elegant hotel was built as a demonstration of the resolve in the hearts and minds of the people of Hungary who eagerly greeted the world with magnificent luxury and sumptuous service. Mr. Moustafa (F. Murrary Abraham) is the heart, mind and soul of the monument to a forgone time and forgotten ideals, who also happens to be the most respected concierge in Europe.  When he reads a copy John Fante’s 1933 was a Bad Year left mysteriously on a room service tray he realizes his own mortality. He reaches out to young Parisian maid, Agatha (Saoirse Ronan), to begin to unlock his secrets of running the most successful hotel in Hungary. The unexpected relationship catch the ire of long time hotel employees Henckels (Edward Norton) and Dmitri (Adrien Brody), each of whom thought they were next in line for the coveted position of head concierge. The story takes place over one day from the perspective of a successful author (Tom Wilkinson) looking back on the most important period of his young artistic life (young author played by Jude Law). A cast of anomalous characters pass through the author’s life and the doors of The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Coming March 2014


A Stupid Opinion about Man of Steel

17 Jun

Battle of Algiers used cinema verite techniques to build up the atmosphere and bring the events of the film to more personal level for the audience. But everyone involved with the film thought, “We really aren’t making the most out of this format. We can really go further.”

Flash forward to Denmark circa 1995, a film collective gets together and tries to create a cinematic movement that will finally be able to use cinema to its fullest ability. But even after their ten-year run that launched/fostered the careers of Lars Von Tier, Harmony Korine and Anthony Dod Mantle, they realized that what they were doing with the medium was still falling short of its potential.

Then in 2002 director Doug Liman and cinematographer Oliver Wood were saddled with an action heavy script and an A-list star who’s most physically active role to-date had been walking around a golf course with Will Smith. They knew they were going to really have to reinvent the wheel to justify their bid for a new product placement franchise. And re-invent they did. They were able to shoot scenes in such a way that they were able to convince people a drama kid could take out a guy with a machine gun using nothing more than a magazine. Even with the mountains of success, they still realize that it wasn’t enough.

Then the mix of Zack Snyder, a billion and one videos posted to YouTube, and the most iconic superhero of all-time, and we finally get the most realistic handheld camera work in the history of cinema. It was just such a pleasure to watch as a man flying across the sky and sliding across pavement and up the side of buildings in the gritty way that cinema verite really aspired to be all those years ago. Finally, everyone can bask in the full potential of movies.


That the was the longest most hyperbolic introduction to any Man of Steel review you will read. The movie was a good film, and as Carl correctly predicted there were some cheesy and unnecessary pop songs, it was a tight film that looked pretty good. I can’t remember a second of slow motion footage in an action sequence, and there were plenty of action sequences in the film. As far as comic book movies go, it was of the highest quality. But my stupid opinion about the film goes beyond the confusing choice to give the movie the raw handheld look, I just wonder how long this formula will continue to work for comic book films.  And I can’t even add “spoiler alert” to this because it is in every single blockbuster tentpole film, the equations can vary for the first 40-ish minutes of the movie, but it always ALWAYS ends with the good guy and the bad guy in hand-to-hand close proximity combat at the center of massive amounts of collateral damage.

These films have become the equivalent to the dumb action movies from the eighties and nineties with just tighter fitting clothes. I equate comic book movies to the Doritos of the cinema world. There’s an old suburban legend that Doritos have been so carefully engineered that the taste is supposed to vanish in a matter of seconds after it is registered on the brain, therefore making it so easy to eat an entire bag in one sitting by ourselves. This is what these comic book movies are they keep upping the ante, the effects get bigger, the characters and villains more outlandish and unbelievable, but the story just stays the same. And you can’t just have one, Iron Man 3 broke all kinds of records and Man of Steel is on the same path. There are going to be comic books every summer every year for as long as I can imagine. All I’m asking is can’t there be a different ending to one of them?

When I was growing up, I loved it when people asked what my favorite movie was. I’d think about it and mull over the movies that I’d seen, and I’d finally come to the conclusion that my favorite movie was the last movie I’d seen. Just because that was the way my kid brain worked. I loved going to the movies, and it wasn’t until much later that I realized there was more to films than just the latest thing, and that films were not necessarily better the flashier and more polished they were. As I grew up and narrowed down the films I’d seen I was able to finally name a favorite film just about the same time that comic book movies really began to take off. Can you imagine trying to pick a favorite comic book movie? Well, you’ve got a pretty solid Batman sequel that is slightly ahead over of everything else, but after that. . . their all the same fucking movie. And that’s even before Warner Brothers began to emulate Disney with their plans for a Justice League film.  The Dark Knight is the only comic book film that is coming to mind where the climax isn’t this battle of mass destruction and instead this small battle philosophical battle between hero and villain. I get it, endings are hard, and having a lot of stuff explode is a good way to make people think they’ve got a good ending, when really all it was was a loud ending.

I know that I’m not saying anything new here, Steve and Steve have recently both been claimed the sky is falling when it comes to making movies. I can see a Heaven’s Gate of comic book movies coming right around the corner, but the sad thing is that this film will probably bomb because it tries to do something that is different. I would have loved to see The Avengers by Robert Altman, Fantastic Four by Soderberg, a Wes Anderson version of Aquaman, or a French New-Wave homage to Superman, but I favorite-movied myself right out of the studios key demographic. They have no interest in making movies for me anymore, or really any interest in making any type of movie that is different at this point.

-C. Charles

A Couple Different Points of View About the Beach House Video for Wishes

12 Mar

The documentary Room 237 is a feature-length film indulging theories about Stanley Kubrick’s The Shining. The documentary and the film theories about the film are a good example of how searching for satisfaction provides answers that fit the question shaped holes in our mind, even if those answers need to be jammed into the holes. The “experts” in this film forced a lot information into their question shaped holes in their head under the guise that Kubrick was a meticulous and borderline infallible director.  Everything has to have meaning if it’s in a Kubrick film. I guess that’s what post-modern film criticism looks like. It sparks the imagination, and if you’re creative outlet is writing scholarly papers or making video essays, then post-modern film criticism is directly for you.

Here’s a wonderful video on Wes Anderson’s The Darjeeling Limited that is very much unlike the film criticism in Room 237. The video essay is not jamming answers into the question shape holes, it is studying and observing and with carefully crafting those observations into a coherent focused essay. In the video, he takes all the information in the film as well as surrounding the film, information gleaned from the press tour and general lore of Wes Anderson, to examine the film as a whole. Ideally, this is what everyone with a creative bone in their body wants to happen to their work; for someone to give it the same amount of attention to appreciating it as they did in creating it.

So, that was the set-up. Here’s the pitch: I’m going to examine the Eric Wareheim’s video for Beach House’s Wishes twice. Once in the post-modern-Room-237 way and once in the style of the video essay. The goal is to keep it under a thousand words, so feel free to stop reading after you’ve read the 1000th word in the this post.

The video for Wishes shows great progression in Eric Wareheim’s artistic sensibilities. The video starts with shot of flaring stadium lights burning a horizontal line across screen. The line of the lens flares across the screen symbolize the dividing line between the crowd of observers and willing participants on the field. He takes special care to show this difference between the audience and the performers. Ray Wise is the perfect choice to for this role, he carries that faux-authority-figure cockiness that permeates from high school coaches, as well as having a thematic connection to Beach House by playing Leland Palmer on David Lynch’s Twin Peaks. The band has always had a Lynchian-Badalamenti vibe to it, and casting of Ray Wise to play coach/main attraction fits perfectly with Wareheim’s sensibilities for casting interesting and unique actors instead of aiming at names with the most “star power.” The thematic connection adds to the viewer’s experience of the video and further puts them inline with the audience in the bleachers of the stadium. Wise will play the role of the coach, leader of the team of the fictional and unidentifiable sport and the leader of the performance. This role will be Wareheim’s surrogate throughout the video and the on field performance.

The lens flares that opened the video consistently appear in relation to the coach and the performers on the field. The prior is made to appear as if he’s glowing throughout the video. At first the audience calmly watches as the coach, a figure that is presumably a familiar individual in their lives, begins to sing to the audience. Their attention is rapt, but subdued. As the performance continues and expands in scope the crowed and their admiration of the coach increases. When both the male and female dancers begin to use weapons in the routine, the crowd escalates to near euphoria status. It is at this point in the video where there is an important Eric Wareheim cameo. The camera dollys across the cheering crowd and Wareheim stands unresponsive to the performance he’s observing. He is the literal creator of the pageantry on the field, yet he is sitting with the audience. His lack of response shows the inability to appreciate his own work while in the middle of it, and more specifically right before the performance takes a step toward the grand finale. He is unable, as the director and creator of the project, to feel the same satisfaction as the observing audience.

The performance that began with the lyrics “The roses on the lawn/Don’t know which side you’re on/In a daze it will change.” This is the same question that Wareheim is asking about himself and his creative work. The work being the “roses”; is he a gardener cultivating the beauty of the rose or his he an admirer of the roses? After his cameo, the performance on the field continues to increase in beauty, scope and aesthetic pleasure. The performance causes the audience to have a spiritual experience on par with any Pentecostal worship service. At this point the coach is elevated to royalty, his vision of the performance succeeded and he’s allowed to bask in the satisfaction of the “roses.” It is worth noting that the opening lines of the final verse of the song, “The roses on the lawn/Won’t know which side you’re on” are not (1000th word) sung by the coach, and are the only lines in the song where the coach doesn’t have a microphone. This implies that even Wareheim isn’t sure which side he’s on. Is he on the side of creating beauty or is he an admirer? He, and all artists, have the progression from one side of the lens flare to the other, and this video shows that while in the middle of creating beauty it is impossible to appreciate and admire it with the same passion as the audience.

Now, for the Room 237 take:

The video for the Beach House song Wishes directed by Eric Wareheim mirrors the current  gay rights movement in America. Through the used of color in production design and the recurring gender swapping you can see the Wareheim shows exactly what is happening in the fight for Gay Rights and the struggles of a homosexual individual in the USA.  The first two things I noticed when I watched this film was that there was a lot of very shiny brightly colored fabrics that aren’t traditionally used in athletic competitions because of their inability to breath and keep the athletes cool, and I also noticed that the coach figure was a male, but the lyrics he sang were from a female performer. And that is what really got me thinking that there is something else going on here.

The the beginning of the video he walks through a hung sheet, that has to be pulled back. This is really like his birth and the pulling back of the sheets by the two men with horses masks is a really obvious metaphor for exiting from his mother’s vaginal canal. From birth, society has forced the coach into this masculine role of coach, when all he wants to do is perform and dance, a traditionally homosexual activity. So, as soon he begins singing we realize that this isn’t your typical high school coach; this is a man who wants to be free with his sexual choices. When he takes on the female vocals of this song, it shows that he’s actively trying to become more feminine while staying in his socially acceptable masculine role.

The theme makes itself more obvious when the two waterboys symbolically blast the traditional masculine athletes with the metaphorical semen when the spray their faces with water. Only one of the players is able to hold a mouthful of the metaphorical semen showing a fine example of the closeted gay male in high school athletics. The female cheerleaders then break through a similar banner as the coach walked through showing that they females are forcing their nature instead of embracing it like the coach. Their mission is to seduce the coach and keep him living the heterosexual lifestyle. They dance erotically in front of him, tempting him to return to them. It is no accident that the close-up slow motion shot of the woman shaking her bottom is followed up by the coach shaking his head “no.” He wants nothing to do women. He is clearly a gay man. The cheerleaders conclude their dance by symbolically offering to allow the man to beat them while the remain quite, as seen in the dance move of faux-hitting themselves then covering their mouths.

At this point in the video, the two homosexual waterboys realize that the coach isn’t responding to the female advances and decide to jump into action. With a knowing nod, the two jump at the chance to impress the coach with their offerings. The waterboy’s dance includes faux-pissing contest as well as ripping the clothes from each other’s bodies. This drives the crowd wild. Where before The Gay Rights Movement people would have scoffed at this kind of behavior from men, they are now applauding how gay men are following their nature.

The video then progresses into a battle between the men and the women for the coach’s favor. The cheerleaders break out large phallic weapons, but the waterboy’s show more agility with that as well. Which is when the cheerleaders call in for back up. A new wave a cheerleaders, wrapped in the symbolic vaginal curtains and spin for his pleasure. This causes the fireworks to explode in the background of the screen. This shows that while society, the people in charge of putting on the sporting event and launching the fireworks and attending the event, wants to provide support for the plight of homosexual individual it still prefers the heterosexual pairing, and will support that by adding extra flair, here seen in the form of fireworks, to those relationship.

In the end though, the coach is lead down back behind the curtain, blocking him from the gazing eye of society where he can not be seen mounting the horse and striking the pose similar to the one the curtain. And notice how the horse is exactly out of view from the other side of the curtain. Even if an audience member could see through the slit in the middle of it, the horse and the coach would not be visible. This just shows that The Gay Rights Movement still has a long ways to go and many of the supporters are still fearful of showing their support, as seen by the many members of the crowd wearing horse heads.

Eric Wareheim undeniably meant for this video to be a metaphor for gay rights and the plight of the homosexual individual in society.

C. Charles

Seven Psychopaths

14 Jan

The first stupid opinion I have in the year of the stupidest opinions is that I think that Seven Psychopaths was the film of two-naught-twelve. In the same year that brought about films from fanboy-pantie-wetters Sir Paul Thomas of Anderson, the larger than life caricature Q. Tarantino, and the man who bleeds argyle, Wes Anderson, it was Martin McDonagh’s sophomore effort that takes the noble distinction of being, not just my favorite film of the year, but the most noble distinction of being the first thing reviewed on this surely-soon-to-be-abandoned blog. To Begin:

I have no idea why this film isn’t floating around on more best of the year lists, or why in god’s name it wasn’t nominated for best original screenplay. I don’t get it. McDonagh’s dialogue gets all the praise, but I’m such a fan of his story-within-a-story technique. Most original scripts these days suffer from gold-leaf-thin story stretched and drug out over 120 pages, where the only emotion being evoked is the anticipation of the phrase FADE TO BLACK, but Marty McDonagh has stories within his scripts that could be Oscar nominated scripts on their own. Do audiences not like being blown away with quality? Would they rather pay for half-baked ideas adapted from properties with the biggest built-in market? It’s stupid.

This script was brilliant, and after you get past the alcoholic writer, all of the characters are unique and original. And no, I take that back, even the alcoholic writer is an interesting take on an alcoholic writer. Colin Farrell’s Marty is walking cliché, alcoholic Irish writer, even Paul Haggis would be afraid to bring that up in Texas, Walker story pitch meeting, but McDonagh puts the realistic spin of everyone seeing his problem but him. Then he let’s him live with it. He just go right on functioning with that glaring flaw everyone is so kind to point out to him. Marty stubbornness and denial make him act like a psychopath, like the pacifist psychopath he has such trouble with. Great stuff.

Then there’s the great performances from Walken and the always just shy of becoming a star Sam Rockwell. These two are certified psychopaths, but this not this film trope psychopaths, where psychopath means that you can just have someone be crazy for no reason at all. These guys are real life fully fleshed out psychopaths. Walken’s Hans is just a badass, and his psycho tendencies is more defined by his lack of action than traditional psychotic-wild-card behavior. The wild-card carrying psychopath is the always great vastly-under-appreciated Sam Rockwell. And while he sure seems like a traditional psychopath, he really gets fleshed out when his own not-so-thought-out plans have some serious consequences he wasn’t really hoping would happen. He has sweet and almost naive motives for his actions, he just doesn’t really weigh the full consequences of his actions.  His way of getting what he wants is just so focused on himself that I’m sure he’d fall perfectly under the DSM iv definition of psychopath.

One last thing here, if the Academy is going snub this film and the great performances in favor of nominating every actor in films with ensemble casts, why the eff don’t they just have an award for best ensemble cast? Let The Master battle The Sliver Lining Playbook, and leave spots open for these guys, or even better, nominate this film for best ensemble cast, too. I don’t get it, In Bruges is great and ignored. This film is too. I hope that McDonagh isn’t driven back to the theater where people appreciate him, and I hope it doesn’t take another four years for the next McDonagh film to come out. Fingers Crossed.

-C. Charles Gilmore