#275- No Country for Old Men

Quick recap: Llewelyn Moss is caught in a deadly cat and mouse game when he stumbles upon a drug deal gone wrong.

screen-shot-2012-03-19-at-9-39-45-am-585x400

But, like, more violent

Fun (?) fact:  While filming in Marfa, Texas, shooting was halted for the day when a cloud of dark smoke came into view. It turned out to be a pyrotechnics testing for the movie There Will be Blood, which was filming nearby.

36190303nocountryforoldmentrailerign-1447690380585_1280w

Only the Coen brothers could find the most perfect haircut for a maniac 

My thoughts: It’s no secret that I love the Coen brothers. Or maybe some people don’t know,but that would be a totally lame secret to have in the first place,tbh. Anyway, I love them and they can do no wrong, not even with Burn After Reading, which I think is underrated. No Country for Old Men is a different monster, though. Many of the same trademarks are there, but this film just feels different. It’s darker, more violent and less funny than their previous projects. And it is perfect.

I don’t use the word ‘perfect’ lightly, except for all those times I’ve used the word ‘perfect’ lightly. But that’s just what this film is. I can’t find fault in it, not that I’ve tried really hard to do so. Take the music, for example. There is none. At all. And with most other movies, this would bother me. Not this movie, though. No music really heightened the feeling of dread I got anytime Anton Chigurh was onscreen, and it felt as though he could be outside hunting me too. The scenery is another home run for me, not just because it’s in Texas, but it’s the most gorgeous part of Texas. I’ve been talking about a road trip to Marfa for years now and maybe subconsciously I’ve been thinking about this movie and that’s why I haven’t gone. It’s so desolate out there and perfect for just the sort of thing that played out onscreen.

But really, just like any good Coen brothers film, I’m in it for the characters. There isn’t a lot of dialogue, but there doesn’t need to be. I still don’t really understand the ending but I also kind of like that. It is what it is and it always will be that way. That’s good enough for me.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: the Sins of Lola Martès

#252- The Good, The Bad, The Weird

Quick recap: A train robber, bounty hunter and really bad guy are in a race to find buried treasure.

the good the bad the weird 4

He may be bad, but oh my god is he gorgeous!

Fun (?) fact: Although the movie is somewhat of an homage to spaghetti westerns, it more closely resembles a genre of Korean films called  a’Manchurian western’.

goodbadweird040610

My thoughts: Seeing as how The Good, The Bad and The Ugly is one of the best films I have watched lately, I was really interested to watch this one. I expected it to be somewhat of a parody with nods to the original version, but it’s really not. The two movies have similar structures and plots, but, and I know this is blasphemy to some, I enjoyed this one so much more.

My favorite aspect of this movie is how complex the characters are. The Good guy isn’t all good, while the Bad guy is bad, but with reason to be. And The weird guy is funny and klutzy but also amazingly savage when needed. And these traits are seen mostly through the actions of the characters because there isn’t a ton of talking. There is a ton of violence in this movie which I loved watching because there is great mix of guns and martial arts. There were some ridiculous moments, but I think that is in line with the genres this movie was paying tribute to.

The Good, The Bad, The Weird is set in 1930s Manchuria but there is beautiful mix of modern elements as well as elements from the Wild West. The music is also amazing and blends everything together perfectly. Basically, I loved this movie from beginning to end and I’m a little disappointed more people don’t know about it. It’s kind of like the Amelie phenomenon, where that’s the only French film many people know so it automatically becomes their favorite. For Korean films, I think many people could identify The Host, but this one deserves just as much credit.

Final review: 5/5 of course

Up next: 12 Angry Men

#241-Good Bye Lenin!

Quick recap: After his mother emerges from a coma, a young man tries to keep her from learning that her beloved country of East Germany has collapsed, out of fear that the news will kill her.

good-bye-lenin-o

Fun (?) fact: The story is loosely based on the last couple of years of VI Lenin’s life. Josef Stalin was afraid that excitement could caused serious health problems so he censored all media about the political issues of the time.

goodbye-lenin

My thoughts: Good Bye Lenin was all over the place for me: I laughed, I cried, I drank Coke. Seriously though, the Coke advertising was ridiculous. Was there some Coca-Cola invasion I missed learning about in History? I know that Texas can be sort of hit and miss about important facts children should know, but you would think this would be the sort of thing I would’ve paid attention to.

All joking aside, watching Good Bye Lenin made me realize how little I knew about the fall of East Germany and how complicated the whole thing was. I know about the wall and I could probably name some important figures, but what I never thought about were the people. Not just the fact that families could finally be reunited but how hard it must have been to transition to a democracy after having little to no choice before. These kinds of governments are awful, of course, but they provide a sense of familiarity and calmness, whereas a Westernized country is overwhelming. It made sense why the son, Alex,would try to shield his mother from all of it because he was having a hard time on his own.

Alex’s love for his mother was to me the most important part of the film. There were several funny scenes about the lengths he took to keep his mother from knowing about the fall of her country- from paying boys to sing Socialist songs, to creating fake news reports so his mother could watch tv. It was all done out of a fierce protection, but it was also done as protection from his own feelings. His mother was everything to him, but she also represented safety. In turn, I think Alex’s mother knew the country had changed long before he told her (which he never actually did. He created a fake story about East Germany letting West Germans in because they hated capitalism) but she too loved him so much that she let him continue the charade. The ending, which I won’t give away, was also beautiful and really tied the whole film together.

Final review: 5/5

Up next: One Upon a Time in China

 

#239-Memento

Quick recap: A man without the ability to form short term memories hunts for his wife’s killer.

giphy

Fun (?) fact: There aren’t many fun facts that don’t give away the mystery, so I’ll go with a personal one I just realized: Natalie and Teddy in Memento played Trinity and Cypher in The Matrix.

memento_natalie

Someone should do a mashup of Memento and The Matrix where Neo can’t form new memories and the entire movie is spent reminding him that he is The One.

My thoughts: While searching for images from Memento, I fell down a rabbit hole of memento mori blogs. In case you don’t know, memento mori is/was the practice of photographing people after they die. It was most popular in the Victorian Age, a time when people didn’t have Instagram and pictures took 15-20 minutes to take. It turns out that most memento mori pictures are fakes or are people who just closed their eyes at the worst possible moment. I’ve taken some really bad photos in my lifetime and it mortifies me to think someone would find it 100 years later and think I was dead because I looked so bad.

096a0aafc06d8fd53548d8dd01e8a46c

‘I hope I don’t end up on Tumblr for this picture’

And now on to my actual review of Memento– I liked it. I knew I would like it because it’s been one of my favorite movies since it came out, but it especially pleased me that it has aged well. The movie is shot backwards, so the first scene you see is chronologically the last, which sounds gimmicky but totally works. Plus, Memento is directed by Christopher Nolan so if anyone can pull this off, it’s him. My favorite thing about this movie is that when you watch a scene, it’s incredibly confusing and your opinions of people change constantly, but then you watch the next scene (or chronologically prior scene) and a little more context comes to light. It’s a puzzle within a puzzle and it’s just as complicated as I remember.

Watching Memento this round, I found myself drawn to the concept of memory. It’s basic knowledge at this point to know that memory is faulty and too heavily relied on at times. But there’s this darker side, which I won’t get into because it would spoil the movie, that memory is what we want it to be. It can be manipulated. And as much as I’d like to be honest with myself, there are just some things I’d rather not remember. So as reprehensible parts of Memento are, I’m guilty of doing the same thing- whether it’s deleting a song off of Spotify because it reminds me of someone or deleting an entry in my journal I don’t want to look at again. At the same time, memory is you, the good and the bad side of it. And when your memory is gone, who are you, really?

77272-1-large-b419916277911583

Final review: 5/5. A lot of people loved this movie when it came out and if it’s been awhile since you have seen it, go watch it again. It gets better with time.

Up next: Run Lola Run