Wednesday, October 24, 2007

That's Entertainment

My summer movie season began with seeing Christian Bale as the unbelievably optimistic Dieter Dengler in Rescue Dawn and ended with seeing Christian Bale as the unbelievably stubborn Dan Evans in 3:10 to Yuma. 3:10 to Yuma is the straightforward Western of an honest man trying to bring a killer to justice but of course, nothing is really that simple. Russell Crowe struts his quiet but powerful charisma in the role of Ben Wade while Christian Bale gives us a desperate and honest man trying to do what? earn his son's respect? It's a great film that seems to get away with having something for everyone. It's the ruminative post-modern Western in the mold of "Unforgiven", has the shameless violent and dark humour of a series such as "Deadwood", climaxes with near Morricone-esque spaghetti-Western driven music, and ends like a kind of fable where a man can whistle and his horse would follow. That was way too many hyphens for one sentence. Let's just say it was a grand entertainment.

Despite the quality of films I've seen on the big screen, I've watched some pretty horrible films lately. Why? Simply put, BitTorrent. Because I could download them easily enough, I thought, they're free, so why not? Well, there is no such thing as a free lunch. What were these digital castoffs? There have been many, but two stand out. Evan Almighty, and Blades of Glory.

And the Lord did sayeth that NOT Will Ferrell NOR Wil Arnett NOR Steve Carrell, the three funniest men in American Cinema could save thine children from these plagues of Hollywood. At least Evan Almighty was a movie that had an arc (actually, it had an Ark) and plot and a couple of good gags. In it, God appears as a sagely Morgan Freeman to direct Steve Carell's superficial Evan to build an Ark just like Noah did but in general this ship never left dry dock.

Blades of Glory, is by comparison, not even a movie, but more like a sequence of trailers for even less promising movies. It really was like an SNL skit that went on 88 minutes too long. Perhaps figure skating is already too ridiculous to be parodied, but how a film with Will Ferrell, Amy Poehler and Wil Arnett fails to even raise an eyebrow, not to mention even it's own pulse is beyond me. I was just struck by how awful the editing was. Why did I even notice the editing? It was so bad as to be mysterious but not so bad as to be cultish. I guess that just makes it bad.

Then, when all my hopes and dreams for seeing a good film were fading to black, I rented last year's recipient of best foreign film, The Lives of Others, and everything changed. Now there's a film worth writing about.