September 8, 2007

3:10 To Yuma

A great Western and a awesome film all around. A big step up for director James Mangold, after his biopic by-the-numbers Walk The Line. Russell Crowe is Ben Wade, a charming, handsome, ruthless, notorious stagecoach robber. By a fluke, Wade has finally been captured, after 22 heists, who knows how many murdered, and $400,000 in cash stolen. He's being taken to Yuma AZ for his trial and certain hanging. Christian Bale is Dan Evans, a desparate rancher who must save his ranch, make a man out of his son, and redeem his own manhood, by agreeing to take Crowe to the 3:10 train to Yuma, a 3-day, two night overland journey. A solid and thoughtful script, world-class performances, and fine location photography equal a fine Western we were talking about all evening afterwards.

NOTES: We went to the 4:40pm screening, which led to some verbal confusion at the box office: I stepped up and declared "Two for the 4:40 to Yuma, please", which is only half right. According to, you can see 3:10 to Yuma in two theaters in Yuma, Arizona (The Harkins Palms 14 or the Main Street Cinemas), and the Harkins 14 is even showing the film at 3:10. I joked with the teenage clerk, who asked "Oh, is that what that movie is about?" Sigh. George, Mandy, and Amy joined Emily and myself. We went to El Pelon Taqueria for dinner afterwards, and had a lively cinematical conversational critique. (Regal Fenway Stadium 13)

September 7, 2007

Superbad: Guys Movie Night

A honest, funny, crude, and realistic depiction of high-school drunken foolishness. Another example of the new comedy process where the director tries out 100 jokes per scene, then edits the movie based on which jokes get the most laughs in preview screenings. This may result in guaranteed quality humor, but the resulting movie sometimes feels rough and choppy. For example, the most famous scene where Fogel shows Seth and Evan his fake "McLovin" ID included plenty of punchlines ("Are you an Irish R&B singer? Are you Seal?") but it never felt like a character actually said two sentences in a row. The chop-chop-chop rhythm eliminates any flow. Seventy years ago, the Marx brothers would try out their routines on the road in front of live audiences, crafting and honing their jokes before they filmed them onscreen. I'm generally pleased with the results of this style of comedy-moviemaking, but it would be refreshing to see a comedy with takes which lasted longer than five seconds. Where's the Ghostbusters when you really need them?

NOTES: Angus, Jeff, Phil, and I saw the movie in the mostly empty Screen 8 three weeks after the movie's debut. A trailer for National Treasure 2: We Remake The Da Vinci Code drew open laughter from the entire audience. The trailer for the Coen brothers new movie, No Country for Old Men, makes the movie look a-w-e-s-o-m-e! (Regal Fenway Stadium 13)