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Posts Tagged ‘A Beautiful Mind’

I am a petty petty man whenever I write about films. Even though I have zero credibility, I still sit on a pedestal, put my grubby fingers on the keyboard and pass judgment as though mere admiration for cinema immediately brings with it a superior understanding of the same. Matter of fact, I’ll bring in an IMDB quote to clear things up.

anton egoIn many ways, the work of a critic is easy. We risk very little yet enjoy a position over those who offer up their work and their selves to our judgment. We thrive on negative criticism, which is fun to write and to read. But the bitter truth we critics must face, is that in the grand scheme of things, the average piece of junk is probably more meaningful than our criticism designating it so. But there are times when a critic truly risks something, and that is in the discovery and defense of the new”

As much passion as a critic/writer feels during the course of defending the refreshingly unproven, I think he feels just as much while berating the unfortunately unexpected. In lieu of such delightful ironies, here’s a review (questionable usage) of some of the most overrated films I have seen…

No-Country-For-Old-ManNo Country For Old Men: The first time I watched this film I thought it was really really good. A couple of viewings later, I turned turtle on it. While Intolerable Cruelty remains the only truly horrendous mistake committed by either of the Coen brothers, I think No Country For Old Men is one of their most overrated moments. Now look, I think its fantastic that sometimes intelligent directors get awarded these nice trophies. As much disrespect as I have for such industry-standard recognitions, I cannot help but feel all warm and fuzzy inside when directors like Chris Nolan, Sam Raimi and the Coens win those golden statuettes. In that sense I was sort of glad when No Country took the best film award. However when compared to the most of their other films this one pales like the offspring of Mr snowman and Mrs albino monk(ess).

Yeah yeah Javier Bardem almost hit Michael Madsen’s level of coolness with his brooding presence and the storyline too was alright, I guess…a sly veer from cinematic norms. But I ask you, can any facet of No Country even dream about reaching the skull-crushing, bone marrow-sucking, badass awesomeness of films such as Miller’s Crossing, Big Lebowski (it’s not “just a slacker comedy”), Blood Simple or the grossly unappreciated Barton Fink? No friggin chance, if you ask me. In fact apart from the great Catherine Zeta Jones-inspired atrocity of 2001, I can’t think of one other Coen brothers’ film that has left me with such emptiness. Oh and I did not dig the ending at all. Too often directors have taken this route to escape giving closure for their characters. Apparently there is some sort of a pseudo-intellectual acumen attached to leaving films in limbo. Let the audience figure out the ending, it seems. I have at times wished that Ernest Hemmingway had never kickstarted this interactive connect with his readers through The Lady And The Tiger; perhaps then we wouldn’t have had to sit through these too-breezy-to-qualify-as-stylish climaxes. As if that weren’t lame enough, the brothers had the audacity to let Tommy Lee ‘I forgot how to act after Natural Born Killers’ Jones lead us through to the final scene. If I had to choose the actors who were supposed to do  that last scene in No Country For Old Men, my last three picks would be Dennis Quaid, Tommy Lee Jones and Harrison Ford. Of course I’m spiteful. It’s true, folks…what you love the most can also hurt you the worst.

walk_the_lineI Walk The Line: Now now keep your knives back inside and play nice. I am not finding fault with the film or the performances in it. I do however question its decision to leave out few things that defined Johnny Cash and the way he lived his life. We see precious little from his childhood years and even less of his later years. I mean, Wikipedia could tell you that Johnny Cash had started writing songs way before he enlisted in the Air Force during the early Fifties. His mother and a certain childhood mate taught Johnny how to play the guitar; legend even has it that he wrote his own songs and sang on a local radio station at that time. In 1972 when he got to perform at the White House, he turned down President Nixon’s requests for a few dainty folk songs and instead performed some of his most politically charged ones. During the early Nineties, he rebelled against his label Columbia records and recorded an “intentionally awful” self-parody called Chicken in Black. As it turned out, the song had more commercial success than “any of his recent material”. In 1994, under the very questionable supervision of producer Rick Rubin, he released American Recordings – an intense collection of songs that he created in his living room, accompanied only by his faithful dreadnought guitar.

In the very same year, the crowd at the famed Glastonbury Festival gave him a rousing reception that had the Man In Black in tears. In 2002, at the age of 72, Johnny Cash covered a Nine Inch Nails’ song (Hurt) and turned it into one of the most harrowing folk ballads of all time. A year later, both him and his lovely wife were no more. So, when the Walk The Line was released, I was extremely friggin excited. I sat down in front of the TV and threw away the remote in cool disdain, even foolishly scoffing at the fact that remote controls would become extinct if more people made biopics about folk rock legends. And what did I get instead? The lady from Legally Blonde yodeling her precious little heart out and a silly notion that the song Walk the Line was written for June Carter. Hell no, Cash wrote that for his first wife – Vivian. I can understand the director’s intention to focus on the certain sections of his life but I think it’s hardly coincidental that the film contained the most inspirational, glossy and predictable moments. Cash, Elvis and Jerry Lewis on a rock and roll road trip? The final thanksgiving family showdown? The Folsom prison concert? Jeez man, they might as well have shown his stupid cameo appearances in Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman.

reality_bites3Reality Bites: This is proof that good music and passable humour mean squat to a film when its storyline is uber lame. Add Ethan Hawke to the mix and you have a film that just cannot be saved unless Klaus Kinski gets to play a psychotic dramatist, Mr Reality ‘John’ Totality, who likes biting stupid slacker kids who misconstrue poetry as foreplay. That would so rule. As for Ben Stiller’s debut Reality Bites, it doesn’t just bite, it friggin sucks.

Forrest Gump: Take away the corny dialogues and the background score whenever something inspirational happens and you have a pretty decent movie. Now, replace Tom Hanks with Adam Sandler and Bubba (Mykelti Williamson) with Steve Buscemi, and you will have comedy gold.

A Beautiful Mind: John Forbes Nash Jr was a mathematician and economist extraordinaire. He was also promiscuous, paranoid, schizophrenic, racist and anti-Semitic. And who gets to direct the film? That freckled kid – Ritchie Cunningham (Ron Howard) – from Happy Days, of course. Excuse me while I go puke.

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