Friday, September 19, 2008

Burn After Reading, Son of Rambow, Redbelt, Igor

Burn After Reading is the newest Coen brothers flick and stars Francis McDormand, Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Richard Jenkins, John Malkovich, and Tilda Swinton in a funny, but convoluted story involving espionage, exercise, and, as the tagline suggests, that "intelligence is relative." To say too much more than that would be spoiling a good flick.
Of course it's convoluted. If you've seen more of the Coen brothers' work than No Country for Old Men, you'd know that convoluted is pretty much par for the course. And, it's no Raising Arizona or The Big Lebowski, but it's funny in that wonderfully quirky Coen way.
The performances were top notch, the score was perfect, it was well-edited. I loved it!
Son of Rambow was the newest flick from Hammer and Tongs, otherwise known as Garth Jennings (writer-director) and Nick Goldsmith (producer), the men behind The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy movie (which I LOVED almost as much as I love the books.) The film stars Bill Milner as Will Proudfoot, a secretively imaginative young boy brought up in 1980s Britain in the arms of the Brethren, a religious sect not unlike the Amish where music, television, movies, and being friends with Outsiders (folks like you and I) are strictly verboten. When the school bully, Lee Carter (Will Poulter), manipulates the naive Will into helping him make a movie for a competition, and he accidentally sees a pirated copy of First Blood, the smaller boy's mind is completely blown open. Things fall apart, as things do, and the friendship between the boys is tested as they struggle to finish the film.
Based on facets of Jennings' own childhood (the DVD includes one of his short films from back in the day as well as the winner of a website contest), the film was wonderfully funny, imaginative, and heart-wrenchingly beautiful. Everything about it was fantastic!
I highly, highly recommend this flick.
Redbelt is a David Mamet film set near the world of competitive mixed martial arts. It stars Chiwetel Ejiofor (one of the best actors working today) as Mike Terry, a warrior who is against prize-bout competition struggling to maintain his principles and values in the face of a string of betrayals that eventually force him into a position he's not sure he can escape from regardless of his mantra that "there's always an escape."
This being a David Mamet film (something I don't have that much experience with), it's very talky and a little heavy-handed in areas. It was choppy and, strangely enough, poorly written. It feels very choppy, especially toward the end, as though we're missing some scenes that would explain a few things.
The movie is carried on the strong shoulders of Chiwetel Ejiofor. As always, he's wonderful in this film. The supporting actors are important, and are good (even Tim Allen), but don't have as much to work with as Ejiofor.
I got it just to watch Chiwetel Ejiofor and I would recommend it based on that. It's NOT a martial arts film. It's a drama. The promotional material is misleading.
Igor (yes, I do keep calling it "eye-gore" when it's pronounced "eee-gore" is an animated flick starring John Cusack's voice as an inventive Igor in a country that doesn't let Igors (you know, the hunchbacked, ever-suffering lab assistant...) do anything except assist the evil scientists. When his master, voiced by John Cleese, is killed in an accident, our Igor gets the opportunity to prove himself in the annual Evil Science Fair, held by the king of the country of Malaria in order to ransom the world for money.
Igor decides that he's going to create life from spare parts, a giant evil monster, who turns out to be female, to terrify all and win the Fair and the adoration of all of Malaria. When the evil Dr. Schadenfreude (EDDIE IZZARD!) finds out about his invention, he plots with his girlfriend, Jaclyn (Jennifer Coolidge), to steal it.
It was cute and strange and while it's obviously influenced by Tim Burton (the king just about rips off the look of the Mayor of Halloweentown), it doesn't come close to his stop motion stuff. And the Annie stuff? It really should have made me laugh...but it didn't. In fact, I giggled only a few times and it was because of Eddie Izzard and Jennifer Coolidge who are easily the best voices in the flick, though John Cusack sounded like he was having fun. Otherwise, it was surprisingly unfunny. Young Frankenstein reference? Really? That's disappointing...
The animation was nice. Nothing like Pixar or even Dreamworks, but it was well done and the design of the characters was cool.
Kids will like it. It'll be a little too heavy-handed for older kids and adults. I'd recommend watching Young Frankenstein again.


movie buff said...

Brad Pitt can be so funny, as long as he's not taking himself too seriously... i would seem that this movie makes good use of his, habitual, spastic arm movements

Lori said...

Movie Buff:

Yeah, he was very funny and not taking himself seriously at all. I normally don't really like him. Too pretty or something, I'm not quite sure. But I liked him in this.

Marvin the Martian said...

I want to see Burn After Reading and also Igor. Thanks for reviewing them!