Friday, September 26, 2008

Film: Transsiberian and Burn After Reading. Music:Small Update

Transsiberian imdb link

Forget how much I saw on this prior to reading the summary and seeing it. But the premise sounded like my kind of Indie flick anyway. A couple choose to trek across much of the Russian territories via train instead of flying home to presumably their native USA. They meet another couple through their bunk who seem inviting enough to keep them company along the way; except quite early-on in that time amongst that couple their seems to be way too much more than meets the eye.

Emily Mortimer is very convincing as a woman in more than enough unstable situations involving death, deceit, and a few types of investigations on foreign soil. Ben Kingsley eventually shows up as a Russian detective whose ultimate motivations are not known until the climax of the film.

Woody Harrelson provides reasonable, but not spectacular comic-relief and naivete throughout. And Eduardo Noriega who plays Carlos is both creepy and charming. I guess the things that stand out about this film most are:

a) how dark the plot and story is.

b) Partial spoiler: but why the Jessie character was so paranoid, and time after time with the detectives, to not explain what exactly happened with Carlos. Self-defense among other things you'd think a normal person would consider, especially after all the questions. The guilt and lying seemed like it was eating her up. I suppose the writers did that intentionally; and perhaps the uncertainity of what could happen to her by explaining that in of all countries, Russia, was a big risk itself. But when they are torturing someone, you have no shoes and socks on and gun to your, most people would break under that pressure I imagine.

c) Carlos and Roy ..when Roy disappeared, my 1st suspicion when Carlos picked up the crowbar or whatever it was, was, he was going-to and then did take out Roy then and there. Why he tried to act like he did not care at all when Roy disappeared.

d) the Carlos character, while he was clever in ways, he definitely came across as having alterior motives for many things he did. I suppose that is part of his character, but if the writer/directors of this picture wanted him to be more devious and masked, I guess he didn't really pull that off. Just his relationship with his girlfriend seemed half-assed to a point. But if that was the intention, it worked well since he seemed pretty untrustworthy throughout. But Jessie of course seemed to trust him more than I expected. Also what led to his demise, really, was one of those unrealistic events, that liberties I suppose a film fan can let slide. The effect still worked really well though.

Concluding that this was definitely in the vein of my top film of '08 "Snow Angels" and maybe moreso, the other Woody Harrelson film I saw this year in "Sleepwalking." Dark, character study; and one that has the characters changing/growing and enduring a lot to get past a current predicament. Also it does explore a bit of a theme I thought was interesting in Drug Mules. It reminded me of how they used that work as a plot element in the film "Maria Full of Grace." Dark, dangerous, business, that those who get involved don't always know how risky it is.


Burn After Reading
imdb link

I've never been a HUGE Coen Brothers fan, but I still have enjoyed stuff like "The Big Lebowski" and "Fargo," for example. I guess my impressions of this based on the trailers were it looked a bit contrived and OVERCAST especially. You'd find yourself looking at the ACTORS and many of them left and right in a matter of seconds; instead of the characters they are playing. I suppose this movie didn't entirely avoid that, but it had enough mystery and love trapezoids (not a triangle..not a square even) to allow it to pull me in. The plot(s) were silly, but I didn't find myself taking each situation too seriously to care enough for it to hurt the overall impact.

George Clooney, John Malkovich, and Richard Jenkins I guess are worth watching in most work they do anyway. The loose ends were for the most part tied up save for Tilda Swinton and Clooney's wife. I also found it kind of ironic how Clooney and Swinton end up in so many scenes together, just after they were at huge odds in last year's Oscar nominated "Michael Clayton." Not intentional, but ironic, and ironic how the film up against that one at the Oscars was also a Coen Brothers in "No Country For Old Men."

The best Coen Bros movie? no. Film of the Year? no. Oscar Worthy? I wouldn't think so. Entertaining? Yes, if you don't expect huge comedic or dramatic genius. Coen Brothers I have never found to be nearly as brilliant as they are made out to be, but they are relatively consistent, so I don't imagine even the stack full of casting and the goofy twist the plot takes kills this one for me. Really, it's about on par with many of the recent Apatow films. Decent, but not brilliant.


Upcoming: Choke..more tba as I've caught some previews and reviews of late that I cannot recall at the moment (9/25/08).

Also coming soon/long overdue: a whole boatload of album and some concert reviews. Between the Buried and Me live may or may not happen next week for myself. I am absent from seeing Sigur Ros and Opeth this week, being out of town. 3, Minus the Bear, Brian Wilson, dredg, and Amanda Palmer are all on my concert calendar. Perhaps even seeing Terry Bozzio in St.Paul on 10/19.

in the meantime:
2008 Top Albums

2008 Anticipated

2009 Anticipated

some copying/pasting and more drivel probably could be absorbed here in the near future.

My most played record of the last week:
Burst - Lazarus Bird

Also addicted to:
Jared Micah & Hats - TCMOH

New to:
Friendly Fires
The Alps and The Alps (seriously, 2 different bands..different styles, both good)
Adebisi Shank
Exotic Animal Petting Zoo

Also some tv commentary shouldn't be too far off. FRINGE is the best new show I've seen thus far.

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