Friday, October 28, 2005

Go see OLDBOY@the Brattle! Then, pay attention to KISS KISS!

Before I force my ramble about KISS KISS, BANG BANG on you, I want to push a couple of weekend Brattle offerings that you really must see if you enjoy a good solid gripping thriller at the movies (and have the balls to read subtitles =).

OLDBOY is the must-see. A man is abducted out of the world one night on the town. Drunken, drugged, he wakes up in what appears to be a hotel room. When he tries the doors and examines the windows he finds that he is locked and bricked in. He is a prisoner, or a pet, perhaps. He is allowed no communication or human interaction. His captors monitor him, and provide for him, and periodically gas him unconscious to clean and groom him and check on his health. They only take steps prevent his escape, from both his cell and his mortal coil. Then, one day, after many years have passed, he wakes up under the blue sky, on the green grass, in the middle of the city, free. And now the real story begins, as this man embarks on a search for answers to the who and the why behind his incarceration, the theft of his life. Even free of his jail, he finds that he's only been released into a larger maze. He must physically fight his way to the truth and explosions of violence in the film are set off by some beautiful and surreal images and situations - Who's hungry? Anyone for live octopus?

Do check it out. And hit it before KISS KISS, or anything else, for that matter, as it's only playing Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, 10pm.

SYMPATHY FOR MR. VENGEANCE, by the same director, is playing at earlier shows. It's got a bit more of a dark...dark...extra dark comic flavor to it - a fried misadventure about a young man, a deaf-mute, who wants to save his sister's life by getting her the kidney transplant she desperately needs. Unfortunately, legit medical channels won't provide, so he decides to take extreme measures to procure one through black market sources. He even attempts a black market trade, organ-for-organ, giving up one of his own. This goes less than smoothly. He then enlists his girlfriend to help him with a kidnapping/ransom plan to raise the money pay for his sister's medical care. This plan hits a few gigantic bumps as well. Not the feel-good hit of the summer, but a helluva good ride, and, like I said, fried.

I'm gonna try and hit both of these movies this weekend, so if anyone's into it and lookin for someone with whom to split a tub o popcorn, do let me know. =)

Check the schedule and read sensible movie descriptions at the Brattle site.

NB: Playing on Halloween - EVIL DEAD 2!!!!!

And now w the kissing and banging...
Caught KISS KISS, BANG BANG last Friday night and really really enjoyed it. It's much funnier than I expected, and leaned just as much on Robert Downey, Jr. being the straight man (in more than one way, playing opposite Val as Hollywood detective/consultant "Gay" Perry) as the funny guy. The details of the mystery story that frames the movie are pretty forgettable, but the performances by Kilmer, Downey, Jr, and their Girl Friday (the actress Michelle Monaghan seems familiar, but I can't place her from any other flick or show), matched up with some very sharp and fun dialogue, is damn entertaining.

I'm not sure why it was only out in limited release last week. It's got the star power of a mainstream flick. Although I suppose it might be tricky to market in your typical mainstream flavored way. I'm not sure that a lot of people would notice, but I think it's opening in wide release today (I'd guess less screens than DOOM, but perhaps more than GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK).

Downey plays a small-time thief who poses as an actor to escape pursuit by the police. He unwittingly delivers an excellent performance at an audtion that wins him a trip to L.A. to try out for a movie. At his first Hollywood party, he is reunited with his high school megacrush, and then assigned by his agent to shadow a detective/consultant (played by Kilmer) in preparation for the role. When Kilmer takes Downey along on what's supposed to be a simple surveillance job, the discovery of a dead body lands them in the middle of a murder investigation and cover-up, which, of course, MUST involve his dream girl. Wacky fun ensues!

Shane Black, the screenwriter (the story's taken "in part" from a novel) and director of KISS KISS, is the writer of the LETHAL WEAPON movies. The first of which I dig the most, then the next two in their order, for being very good keep-it-moving action movies working at one-upping their predecessors yet also manage to build some characters, and the fourth, well, I really think it meant well, but unnecessarily childish ethnic insults put into the mouths of LAPD characters aside, pitting Gibson and Glover against Li called to mind the SIMPSONS bit about a STAR TREK 12 movie, with the sub-title - SO VERY OLD. Not that they couldn't still make a very impressive showing in an action movie, but against JET LI? In my alternate reality version of the movie, JET LI wins the day and becomes the marquee name in the LETHAL WEAPON franchise for the next 6 or so movies. =)

Anyhow, in all of the LW flicks, I always gave a lot of credit to the cast for making the buddy-buddy/unlikely partners stuff work so well, and they certainly did damn fine work doing it, but now, in KISS KISS, I'm seeing that the writing was pretty golden to begin with. Not all that deep, but sharp, animated, and alive. Or, maybe Black writes crap, but has got a knack for getting just the right people cast to turn his crap into gold...? Nah, that's not it. I mean, he does get a great cast to deliver here, but the dialogue is just plain fun to begin with. I mean, you actually get a very satisfying answer to the old question, "You know what you see in the dictionary next the word 'idiot?'"

Turning the expected buddy-buddy thing sideways and having Val and Robert be at odds for most of the movie makes for some great insult hurling, and the Los Angeles moments in the film seem to ring very true - like when Downey's character Harry tries to start a convo w a hottie at a bar, he admits to not being in the biz, and she simply walks away. Although, why in Hollywood today a consultant would get nicknamed "Gay" Perry escapes me. To differentiate him from detective Straight Perry? I wonder that it's not some kind of shot at a real someone working in Hollywood, that only insiders would "get...?" Still, I suppose it's the quickest way to get the audience in on Perry's orientation.

There were actually some almost subtly cool little moments that pushed the experience of the movie as a fun modern spin on a hard-boiled LA noir. The rambling informal voice-over by Harry certainly adds to that sort of feel, but goes further than the typical voice would, as Harry the actor doesn't just know the whole story, but that you're watching the whole story as a movie, too. A more charismatic villain would've gone a good way towards making that noir feel more real and tangible.

In the end, it's a wrong guy in the wrong place mystery, with a dash of dopey romance, that turns out to be a very entertaining two hours of snappy dialogue delivered by an excellent cast tripping in and out of some very awkward, funny, and improbable not-like-it-is-in-the-movies situations. The faint of heart should beware of gratuitous boobs, tuitous nipple, and surprising but important plot-driving bullets, blood, and boy-on-boy action. And kudos to the arachnid and canine wranglers, real and/or virtual.

I may hafta see about catching another screening, matinee or second-run, to get hit with some of that machine gun dialogue again, and I did really dig some of the gunplay in the pic, particularly the final bit. Fun fun stuff. =)

Keep on keepin on~