Margot At The Wedding - Movie Review


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Margot At The Wedding

This is a tough one for me. If you read my review of Darjeeling Limited you would know that I had high expectations for Noah Baumbach's new film Margot At The Wedding. Really high expectations. In my defense, his track record is tremendous. If you haven't seen every single one of his earlier films (Kicking and Screaming, Mr. Jealousy, Squid and the Whale) then I suggest you spend a weekend catching up, because I can sincerely recommend watching every one. But now we find ourselves with Margo At The Wedding, a film which I can not recommend anyone seeing without a seared conscience and a heaping spoonful of self loathing.
With that in mind, I must say, Margot At The Wedding is not a "bad" movie. At least not in the technical sense. I will point out what nearly every other reviewer will take note of. The acting is tremendous. The cinematography is striking and beautiful. The editing is tight and well done. In fact, just about every aspect of this film is well designed and expertly executed.
The trouble is with it's content.
Noah Baumbach has already proven himself to be an adept and brilliant writer. Even with his film Mr. Jealousy, his most prominent mainstream creation, he managed to create brilliantly clever dialogue, intriguing characters, and a creative storyline. And it worked. In his latest work, his refined skills are evidently portrayed. In my most favorite scene of the film the two leading characters, Margot (Nicole Kidman) and her sister Pauline (Jennifer Jason Leigh) have an extended conversation while moving room to room. The scene is otherwise normal, with an exception to the fact that Margot appears to shut each window only a short time after Pauline opens it. Neither character mentions it, and it is fairly easy to overlook. What Noah does is he creates metaphors out of seemingly minute details. This scene illustrates the constant push and shove sibling rivalry which is ignored, yet constantly apparent. It's brilliant, but again, it's easy to overlook. While I'm all for subtle details, the movie severs all ties with it's greater audience as often as it can.
The closest I can come to describing the film is by saying it is the relational equivalent to Hostel. While you wont see anyone jam needles into peoples eyes, you will see people tear at each others emotional soft spots and expose their most hidden weaknesses. It causes the same kind of cringing, but whereas a film like Hostel can scratch that sickening itch, Margot causes you to break out into emotional hives which will reasonably not be relieved by the film's close.
Here's what Margot At The Wedding is. It's a great course in Film 101. Some wold call it a great character study. Frankly, it's a good lesson in what you can do in movies, but are better off avoiding. No doubt, this film will gain some followers. Those individuals will no doubt be college film majors and old people living in Bethesda MD. Unfortunately, I hate both of those people. Logically, I have no choice but to hate Margot at the Wedding. Save the ten bucks.


Dear Jane Austen, You Suck.

So I was in Barnes and Noble yesterday, in the romance section as always, and I couldn't help noticing something peculiar. It seemed that every book I looked at was the exact same. I thought, surely Zack, this can't possible be! Verily I tell you, It was!
Now, I understand. Some people like the same authors. Some people even like the same books. What I have come to realize are these facts:

1. All women love Jane Austen

2. All women love Pride and Prejudice

3. All women are in love with Mr. Darcy

4. I am not Mr. Darcy.

These statements are all logically sound. Every woman really does love Jane Austen, and as a result, will spend the rest of their lives in pursuit of a fictional male character. I know what you would say, there must be exceptions to this rule. Right now I'll tell you, there aren't. I know this because I have previously learned rule number 5, all women are lying. You better be writing this down.
So if you don't believe me when I say every book was the same, let me supply you with a small fraction of books I came across:

There are literally HUNDREDS of these with varying titles.

Now, I'm going to come under attack for this. I know that. But being the first man to stumble across this vast network of a romantic novel conspiracy, the truth must be revealed.
Every girl book ever written IS Pride and Prejudice.
That's it. It's the same exact novel, cut and pasted, word for word. We just never realized this because the books bored the crap out of us. Heck, I don't think girls even know what it's about. It's like a virus, once exposed they are forced to re-read (and rewrite) the same book over and over again. Still don't believe me? Rent Vanity Fair. There. Told you. Same friggin story. Some women try to get creative and paste the chapters in a different order.
Nice try women, but you can't pull the wool over MY eyes.
Here's a little novel I decided to write:

BOOM. Instant bestseller.


No Country For Old Men Review

No Country For Old Men

One reviewer referred to it as taking all the lovable characters from "Oh Brother, Where Art Thou?" placing them in the desert, and essentially killing all of them. Frankly, that just about sums it up for No Country For Old Men, the latest in the line of movies from the Coen brothers since the ill-received Lady Killers. Of course this film has much more of a message going for it beyond "kill this, kill that," but at the same time I'm willing to question whether or not that really is such a great thing.
Say what you want, perhaps it is my own personal taste, but let's face it, the killing really makes this movie what it is. What the Coen brothers have excelled in is building up a tremendous storyline, and then showing us what would happen if it were to simply be torn to shreds. It is tremendously entertaining to watch. Take for example one spectacular shootout on the abandoned streets of a small town (I'm not giving anything away here). There is this unbridled man vs. man conflict, only met by the equally foreboding tension proceeding it. The ensuing fight is so bracing and jarring, you can't help but get involved yourself. For many films, moments like these are necessarily built up with long, drawn out, scenes of exposition meant to define character. Here, the characters are fleshed out in ways which are engaging and often terrifying. The highlight for me is one piece of dialog between the main antagonist, a merciless hitman, and a simple hearted gas attendant, who is faced with a fifty fifty shot at life or death.
I really feel no need to point how magnificent Javier Bardem is, or how wonderful his supporting actors Tommy Lee Jones and Josh Brolin shine, because nothing needs to be said (and I'm sure every other critic will take liberties to say it). They're all great.
So here is my only gripe with No Country For Old Men, and that is my slight disappointment that the movie had to have some kind of message to it. Yeah, I get it's based off a book, and yes, messages do tend to help benefit the viewer beyond the theater. Still, I couldn't help but imagine how amazing No Country For Old Men could have been if it was made as a straight for the gut thriller. All those moments of tension and action are abruptly shifted to aid a message, which, I presume is probably about our need for tension and action. Maybe the film was to provide insight to the violence of man, and the violent nature of man's mind. Hmm, profound. But who cares? I already know the human mind wants to see violence, heck, that's one reason why most people would spend ten bucks to see a movie about a soulless killing machine. This is what we prepared ourselves for, so frankly, I would prefer to see a movie that built up to a big finale, rather than the deus ex machina we are already aware of.
What this film amounts to is a standard Shakespearian tragedy in structure, which in itself is a feat. The standard elements of a tragic hero, a villain, even one remaining character which signifies hope or wisdom. As one definition says, "a story of exceptional calamity, leading to the death of a man of high estate." In their definition of what men can consider "high estate" the Coen brothers have found a truly great film. I highly recommend watching it.