Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Frygtelig lykkelig

Frygtelig lykkelig, or for the sake of my sanity, Terribly Happy, is a Danish film that has a plot that seems very similar to the plots of many other movies. In fact I think Nic Cage starred in a really crappy remake that had a plot similar to this movie. What is this recycled plot you say? Cop goes to small, close-knit town of people who handle their own problems and don't want some city slicker from Copenhagen coming in and messing with the town by using things like standard police regulations and calling the mythical city of Tonder (there is suppose to be that silly o with a slash through it but to hell with that!) Fine....fine...fine... Tønder. The last thing I need is a horde of Danish vikings chasing me down and and stealing all my stuff because I refused to spell the name of a town that has less that 10,000 inhabitants correctly.

Alright so the plot was rather dull sounding. We have Robert, the cop from Copenhagen, becoming the marshal of this small town in Denmark that is described by one of the residents as nothing but cows, mud and rubber boots. Sounds amazingly exciting! And it turns out to be just that. A married woman, Ingerlise, strikes up a relationship with Robert and reveals that he drunkard maniac of a husband, (grrrrr) Jørgen, beats her up regularly. Of course she refuses to file a report. While all this is going on the film continually gives us this sense of eeriness. Not like supernatural stuff, like the town if full of Satan worshipers that want to put Robert into a giant straw man and burn him alive in some crazy ceremony, no just a sense that this town is hiding some other kind of secret. They keep making references to things the old marshal did and seem annoyed when Robert doesn't want to do things like the old marshal. As you can guess things between Robert and Ingerlise heat up and that can lead to nothing good because Jørgen is the biggest, meanest dude in town. If you want the rest of the story you will have to learn to read subtitles, speak Danish, and watch the movie.

The movie gives off a palpable sense of impending doom and suspense that seems to pervade every single scene and the movie also has a very subtle and evil ending that made up for the cookie-cutter sounding plot. I highly suggest you try and watch the movie if you have time. There is also an epic drinking competition between Robert and Jørgen in this movie as well. They pound back beer after beer after whiskey after whiskey! 4/5 stars.

Red Rock West

A very exciting picture from the movie!

Red Rock West is John Dahl movie that is set in Wyoming and involves some Texans, Michael and Lyle, played by Nic Cage and Dennis Hopper. Right off the bat you are excited! Wyoming?! Exciting! Texans?!? Super exciting!! Alright fine, I sold you on the Nic Cage and Dennis Hopper part didn't I? This movie was made in 1993 so in order to get this much cheesy acting you will have to wait until 1996 for Nic Cage and Sean Connery in The Rock. Good thing we all have time machines in the garage now that it is 2011. Did I mention Lara Flynn Boyle is in the movie? That might not be too exciting I guess, unless you are a Twin Peaks or Men in Black II fan. (If you are a MiB II fan you have come to the wrong place and I need you to kindly turn around and walk off the nearest cliff or into an open elevator shaft.) Alright I was suppose to be talking about a movie and I went all Nic Cage and started rambling like a meth head.

Red Rock West seems like a simple movie based off a tried and true film noir plot. Husband wants wife dead. Husband hires person to kill wife. Wife takes exception. Tries to hire same killer to kill husband. The problem is Michael (Nic Cage) wanders into the town of Red Rock West and happens to be driving a Caddy with Texas plates. The husband's hitman is suppose to be from Texas. You can see where I am going with this right? Well normally the 'protagonist' in a film noir plot is desperate in some way, either desperately in love with a femme fatale or just going through a rough patch, and Michael is certainly desperate for a job. He differs from most film noir because normally Michael would slowly sacrifice his morals and principles for the money and the girl except in this case Michael is a damn fine man and doesn't want to do that. Fate, it would seem, had other things in store for him as he slowly gets dragged into this murder plot.

When things seem to be going bad in your classic film noir that is generally the cue for things to get worse. And they do for Michael. The real Texan hitman finally shows up in Red Rock, Wyoming. What is it with this town? You have a husband and wife trying to kill each other and people from Texas just keep pouring into this little town. Anyway Lyle is played by, you guessed it, Dennis Hopper. Now you have Dennis Hopper trying to kill Suzanne (Lara Flynn Boyle), the wife and Michael. At the same time we discover that the husband, Jim (Craig Reay) is also the sheriff of Red Rock. Man Nic Cage has gotten himself into one fine mess, just like Knowing or Season of the Witch, and has to figure out how to allude the insane Lyle and the sheriff of Red Rock. Things have gotten mighty wild in Red Rock.

Anyway to tell you anymore would spoil the movie for you so in order to get you intrigued by this movie I will leave you with an exciting action sequence from the film. I have to do this because I know everyone in the room still cannot figure out how a movie with Dennis Hopper and Nic Cage could ever be good!

By the way, I give this movie 3/5 stars. It was just interesting enough to escape the formulaic plot that haunts all film noir movies.  

Monday, April 11, 2011

Give 'em Hell Malone

Give 'em Hell Malone is a movie that focuses more on style than substance and there are plenty of times when I prefer style over substance in my films. When I watched Give 'em Hell Malone I was really looking for some good, wholesome entertainment. While Give 'em Hell Malone was far from wholesome it was entertaining and it was the kind of bloodbath I was looking for on a Sunday night.

First off the style of this movie is entirely anachronistic. There are cell phones, newer cars, and modern nursing homes, however, the major players all seem to have dropped right out of the 1940's with the way they dress. Even more confusing is Ving Rhames character who dresses like a classic private detective from a late 1940's film but drives around in a 1969 Mustang. Then again the entire world that the characters are operating in seems to be just as confused as to what decade it wants to be in as the characters are. That might be the writer and directors idea of making everything seem a bit more chaotic and decadent, or I am just looking too much into this element.

Moving right along with the movie. Thomas Jane is Malone. Malone is a tough guy and a hired gun/detective. A lot of people want Malone dead but a lot of people are scared of Malone. Rumors are he ripped out the heart of the man that killed his family and then ate the heart. Not a guy you want to mess with and to prove that point he kills about 25 people in the first 5 minutes. You have Evelyn as the classic damsel in distress, or is she. Ving Rhames is Malone's rival and goes by the name Boulder, an apt nickname given the physical size of Ving and given his general attitude in many of his characters. Marcellus Wallace, anyone? Then we have a psycho Japanese girl that likes sharp objects and a jittery firebug that carries around a zippo and a can of kerosene. A lovely cast. Behind the scenes of it all is a crime boss named Whitmore. He wants what Malone has and he wants it real bad. Enough to unleash a sadistic girl with lots of knives and swords and a maniac with a can of kerosene onto the city to get Malone.

The real reason you should watch this movie is because it presents itself with all the grit and lack of a hero like a neo-noir film and then combines it with elements of movies like Dick Tracy and other comic book inspired movies and then supercharges it with some kerosene, bullets, scotch and enough horsepower to cause global warming. The film tries to offer a deeper meaning at times but in the end that really isn't what the movie is about. This movie is about Malone, giving them hell.

3.5/5 stars