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Old January 21 2011, 11:39 PM   #87
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Re: Movies Seen in 2011

12. Following (B+)
13. The Road to Yesterday (D-)
14. Lethal Weapon (B)

Following: Christopher Nolan's super low-budget debut feature came and went when it was briefly released, but it made enough of an impression to get him the money to make Memento, and the rest is history. And it is a pretty good little thriller (unlike his later work, it's tightly edited to, at a scant 71 minutes) with some beautiful black and white cinematography. I like the way Nolan presents events out of chronological order--it creates meaning, suspense, and mystery in the mind of the audience that wouldn't exist if the story was presented in a more conventional manner.

The ending has a few holes, however. The police conclude that Bill must have totured his girlfriend for the combination to the old man's safe, killed her, and robbed the old man (during which he fought and wounded a man who stumbled across him). The problem is, Bill breaks into the old man's bar, finds the money in the safe, spends an awful long time trying to figure out how he's going to take it without a bag, is interrupted by the man who he wounds, and runs out of there. Afterwards, he finds out he's been duped, so he goes to his girlfriend's flat, confronts her, then he leaves, and finally Cobb shows up, first talking to her, and then finally torturing and killing her. Her time of death and the time of the robbery just don't line up. The movie wants to suggest that Cobb has executed the perfect crime, but things don't quite add up. Any good solicitor should be able to get Bill off.

The Road to Tomorrow: An excruciating and incoherent DeMille silent picture, it's no wonder this one isn't on home video. Part of Evangelical Christian propaganda, part reincarnation fantasy, the film's cosmology is a mess, and, worse, the film is pretty boring (outside of the staging of the collision of two trains, which is pretty spectacular). Worth seeing only for DeMille buffs.

Lethal Weapon: This is still the classic buddy cop movie which has been endlessly emulated and sequel-ized. What's most surprising about revisiting it, however, is how little plot there is (and how hard it is to follow the plot). It has something to do with a group of ex-CIA importing heroin from southeast Asia. There's a few related subplots to this that go nowhere, too.

But those aren't the reason the film is so popular or successful--Lethal Weapon works because of the two lead characters. And, especially in the director's cut, it's all about the characters. I don't think there's a word of plot in the first 45 minutes (at least none that matters), but there's plenty of material where Danny Glover deals with aging and Mel Gibson deals with depression and a death wish. And those are the two things the film is really about. There's just some nonsense involving a nonsensical fistfight with Gary Busey before it can get there.
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