Thursday, June 28, 2007

The Trim Bin #59

- There are two trailers I can't stop thinking about lately. The first, No Country For Old Men, is the Coen Brothers' adaptation of Cormac McCarthy's 2005 novel, looks to be a return to form after the bland, disappointing one-two punch of Intolerable Cruelty and The Ladykillers. I can't wait to see what the Coens do with McCarthy's stark prose - the trailer suggests their creepiest film since Blood Simple. The second is for another adaptation, Paul Thomas Anderson's There Will Be Blood (based on the Upton Sinclair novel Oil!). The pronounced similarity to Terrence Malick has been pointed out repeatedly, and the trailer is certainly filled with echoes of Days of Heaven (McCabe and Mrs. Miller, too). I'm intrigued that Anderson, who has always been a wiz with sound (few directors would hire Gary Rydstrom to mix a small-scale romantic comedy), has replaced bombast with silence. It's this stripped-down approach that connects the two trailers in my mind, as both suggest drastically new approaches for their respective makers. If the films are as powerful as their trailers, we're in for a memorable fall.

- The updated AFI list is no better or worse than the last one - it's nice to see Blade Runner and Nashville in there, and it's laughable that The Sixth Sense is apparently the greatest film of 1999 (the best moviegoing year in my lifetime thus far). There's nothing really wrong with the list itself - about a third of the films listed appear on my own top 100 - but it paints an extremely narrow picture of film history and culture. The AFI list is inherently less interesting than the Sight and Sound Top 10 or other lists, mostly because voters must choose from a preliminary list of 400 films that are at least partly chosen for their popularity. Where other lists are meant to provoke discussion, this one is meant to generate nostalgia and boost DVD sales. Add to this the AFI's stupid insistence on an American-only list because the word "American" appears in their name, and you have a list that is purposefully anti-eclectic. It sucked in 1998, it sucks now, and it will suck ten years from now (or nine, as the AFI apparently cannot count to ten). Case closed.

- A while back I was speculating about casting Peter Jackson's adaptation of The Lovely Bones. The parents have been cast, and I'm split. On the one hand, Rachel Weisz is a great choice for Abigail - her ability to be emotionally open without sacrificing subtlety perfectly fits the story's delicate tone. On the other hand, the casting of Ryan Gosling as the patriarch doesn't work for me, and not just because he's far too young to play a father of three. A confession: I just don't get Ryan Gosling. Where others see precocious brilliance, I see a joyless, mannered assembly of self-conscious method tics in search of a performance with soul. I find his tendency towards "important" material contrived. I didn't buy him for a second as a crackhead in Half Nelson. And his pretentiously unpretentious normal guy routine is infuriating, because any normal guy wouldn't be able to say things like "I've always hated the complacency which comes from good looks" with a straight face. I'll give Peter Jackson the benefit of the doubt - I didn't think much of Viggo before The Fellowship of the Ring - but seriously, am I missing something?

- CHUD has an interesting article about the evolution of the 4th of July as a blockbuster weekend/crap depository. I can't wait to see Transformers, even though I'm pretty sure it's going to unleash a plague of snakes and flesh-eating bugs that will kill all of America's children, unleashing an army of Druid cyborgs that not even Tom Atkins can stop from conquering the world. Either way, the robots look cool.


Jess said...

We are definitely getting No Country for Old Men at my theater. I am extremely excited about it. I hope that we get There Will be Blood as well, but I think a PTA movie might go to AMC.

Anonymous said...

I have to agree about the Ryan Gosling thing. I actually really like him as an actor but I can't see him in that role. While reading it I always thought of someone older like Tom Wilkinson, that may be too old but i think its a lot closer to how old he should be than Ryan.

Andrew Bemis said...

How's it going, Jenni? It's nice to hear from you. I think Wilkinson is a perfect choice - you should get on the phone with Dreamworks ASAP.