Monday, September 10, 2007

3:10 To Yuma, Shoot 'Em Up

So besides laying in my air-conditioned cattle-car of a bedroom and watching 23 episodes of Heroes this weekend, I ventured out of the house to catch a pair of movies. Here are some brief thoughts on them.

3:10 To Yuma (Mangold, 2007) - I usually can't deal with Russell Crowe. I find his offscreen manly-man persona just too off-putting and it makes me irritable. I see him and all I can imagine is that episode of South Park where he and his beloved Tugboat ("Come on, Tuggah!!!") go around punching people in the head. Yet the sweet sweet balm that is another fantastic Christian Bale performance seems to have allowed me to set aside my dislike for him, and he's quite good here as criminal Ben Wade. Not as good as Bale, who once again proves he might possibly be the best actor working today. It's a solid and deceptively straight-forward Western that reminded me what this genre can do best - work through the mind-set of Man and our current relation towards violence. Man as in XY-chromosomed, of course; unfortunately there's scarce room for Gretchen Mol to get the opportunity to prove what she's capable of as Bale's wife.

As for that purported Evil Homo played by Ben Foster, AfterElton really, really strained for that article. Charlie Prince is certainly infatuated with Wade, but not once did I get the feeling that his confused sexuality was being blamed or even being connected with his more psychotic tendencies. And what about Wade's complete indifference to, even slightly-hinted-at acceptance of, his right-hand-man's adoration? Their final shoot-out played nothing like the "hetero gunning down the homo and righting the moral order" way that AfterElton proposed; is it really impossible at this point for a gay character to be evil without accusations of homophobia? Charlie Prince was a sick guy, for sure, but I thought the film portrayed his relationship with Wade as strangely sweet.

Shoot 'Em Up (Michael Davis, 2007) - Oh dear. I really wanted to enjoy this flick, if you couldn't tell by my blog-jaculating (new word alert!) all over that sex/guns scene last week. And Monica Bellucci's a lactating prostitute nicknamed DQ! And babies are tossed around like footballs! But the movie... it just kind of lays there. I can't really pinpoint what the problem is, Clive Owen's hot and fun and Bellucci too. The rhythm is off, I guess, and it needed some real work in the editing room. Then maybe the terrible pun one-liners that Owen is handed would've come off as funny-bad and not just straight-up, poke-out-my-eardrums awful. It has moments of audacious hilarity, and I appreciated its desire to "go there", like way over the line. But it just didn't in the end, and when a movie's only eighty minutes long and still feels stretched out you know you're in trouble. What most angers me, though, is that I've been forced into agreeing whole-heartedly with Richard Roeper's review on this past weekend's Ebert & Roeper - no good can come off agreeing with that man!

1 comment:

Joe R. said...

Saw 3:10 over the weekend, and I'm with you 100%, especially on Foster. I'm glad I read your initial post on the subject before I saw the movie, because there was really nothing to get riled up about but actually I thought it was used as very subtle character shading, without value judgment at all. Uh...and the movie was great too.