Friday, July 3, 2009
The Brothers Bloom blows me away
Writer/director Rian Johnson has joined the ranks of the unappreciated filmatic geniuses along with Christopher Nolan, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, and Michel Gondry (I was trying to think of a female director to round this out, but of course, I couldn't think of any off the top of my head. But I think it's safe to say that all female directors are underappreciated.) If you missed his debut film Brick, you need to stop reading this, run down to Blockbuster or your best film-obsessed friend, and get your hands on that movie. You need to watch it, then come back and finish reading this.
It's okay, I'll wait.
All done? Good. What did you think? Pretty effin' good, right? Detective noir set in a high school with some of the snappiest dialogue since Snatch? Yes. A thousand times yes. Now, to The Brothers Bloom.
Brothers is a more lighthearted film than Brick, and, though set in the present, has whispers of decades past thanks to brilliant costuming by Beatrix Aruna Pasztor (Costume designer for Æon Flux and Vanity Fair) and filming in Montenegro (I smell a new vacation destination). The characters are quirky, and if you know anything about me, I love quirky characters. Mark Ruffalo and Adrien Brody star as brothers who, after a hilarious childhood montage narrated in poetic rhyming prose, become gentlemen thieves, the classiest of con artists, fellows one wouldn't mind being swindled by. Ruffalo is Stephen, the elder brother and mastermind of the cons, which he writes like Russians write novels.
Brody is the younger, more brooding and anxiety-ridden, brother, the lonely protagonist in Stephen's plots who wants out of the conning game, but can't find the strength to leave his brother and the only life he's ever known. Joining them in their exploits is Bang Bang (Rinko Kikuchi), the sexy, mute Japanese demolitions expert.
Let me just say that while watching this film, keep an eye on Kikuchi. Though she has very few lines, her mannerisms and interactions with the brothers are HILARIOUS, but not over the top. She also has a lovely moment of karaoke featuring her real voice, because, you know. JAPANESE.
For the brothers' last con, they take shut-in millionairess Penelope (Rachel Weisz) on a whirlwind adventure in antique smuggling. Penelope is reminiscent of Evey from The Mummy, but is different enough that the two characters stand apart. Penelope is more awkward, more excitable, and so goddamned precious you're going to be waving your fists in front of you going, "Eeeeee!" for a good portion of her screen time. Oh, and by the way, that card trick she does while talking to Brody's character about her childhood? Yeah, Weisz spent a month learning that trick for the continuous shot of her hands. She also learned skateboarding and rapping from Brody while shooting for the montage of Penelope's hobbies. BAM.
Besides the acting, which is superb, the writing, which is inspired, the story, which is fresh take on an age-old genre, and how achingly adorable the characters are, MEN PAY ATTENTION NOW, this movie makes me reevaluate my wardrobe. I know, guys, I know, CLOTHES ::SNORE::, but look, everyone in this movie looks AWESOME, especially the men. Pinstripes, vests, bowler and porkpie hats, cravats, driving gloves, black, white, and dark grey, OH MY GOD YOU MEN NEED TO DRESS LIKE THIS ALWAYS.
It's really hard to talk about this movie without giving too much away; now, in my perusal of the internets for pictures, I've come across some reviews that were decidedly in the negative vein. Some nonsense about this film being "ostentatiously quirky," and being "over the top." These people clearly haven't seen Twilight, so they don't really have a proper frame of reference of what constitutes a bad movie. Someone else drew an unfair comparison, saying that Johnson was ripping off Wes Anderson; while they both have an eye for cinematography and color and costume, Anderson's characters tend to be disconnected from their emotions, while Johnson's experience the strata of mood and actually demonstrate that outwardly. Anderson's movies also tend to slowly saunter towards their conclusions, whereas Johnson's are fairly active and quick-paced at times. This is nothing against Anderson; I do enjoy Wes Anderson films, but personally I think there is a definite separation between the two directors.
So, you know, me and those guys, we can't go to the same Olive Garden anymore.
I saw this movie twice, and I enjoyed it just as much on the second viewing as I did the first. This absolutely will be going into my DVD collection, and I've pretty much hassled everyone I know to go see this film immediately.
As my mother said when we went to see this, "I was so disappointed when it ended; I was like, wait, I can't just live in this movie forever?"
ps. Check out the cameos of Brick players Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Noah Segan, and Nora Zehetner.