Archive for August, 2010

All Things Harrelson
August 15, 2010

Last month I was too busy to write what I needed, and what I needed to announce was the genius I have found in Woody Harrelson as actor.  [Triple take] What!?  Exactly.  Genius.  I, quite by accident, watched four Harrelson films in a row and in this order:  The Messenger (2009).  Defendor (2009).  Transsiberian (2008).  The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio (2005).  My fondness for him had already been recently awakened by Zombieland (2009), and of course he was fantastic in No Country for Old Men (2007)…  but I couldn’t help but feel like he has been in hiding for a while.  My curiosity got the better of me and I looked up his repertoire on IMDB.   Lo and behold he really has steadily worked this whole time, just in films I haven’t seen or for whatever reason never showed up on my personal radar.  And now you are probably wondering why I think he is genius.  Well, in all aforementioned film roles his characters are so different from each other and he pulls of each with finesse.

The Messenger: Directed by Oren Moverman.  I had heard so much praise about this film on NPR that I wasworried I was going to hate it upon watching it.  Holy crap, I loved it.

Woody Harrelson and Ben Foster, The Messenger, 2009

Harrelson is the supporting cast here, but such a huge presence.  He works alongside new actor Ben Foster, who I have only really seen in Six Feet Under.  Harrelson is Foster’s superior officer, their task is to deliver the news of fallen soldiers to the next of kin.  Both characters are complex, each is working out their own burdens.  My one complaint is the presence of Jena Malone, I really can’t stand this actress.  She plays the same character every film, and that character is the equivalent of nails on a chalkboard for me.  Lucky for me/us her role is small.  All in all it’s a great film, tough subject matter.

Defendor: Wow.  I mean, WOW.  I heart this film so much.  I really only discovered it because there was a trailer

Woody Harrelson, Defendor, 2009

for it on my Zombieland DVD.  Did I miss out on this trailer when it was in theater because I don’t subscribe to TV/cable?  I haven’t heard any of my peers talk about it, so I feel like the answer to that question is no.  No you did not miss it that way, Wendy.  I digress.  First time director Peter Stebbings also wrote this little gem.  Harrelson plays a slow-witted Arthur Poppington, who decides he needs to do his part in keeping the riff raff of of the streets by donning his superhero alias, the Defendor.  He can’t fly, but he can throw a jar of angry wasps at your feet.  I believe this was marketed as a comedy, and while it has funny moments, I find it a more serious drama than comedy, a wonderful character study of a guy trying to make it on the streets, fulfilling his superhero potential, who meets a girl (Kat Dennings) trying to make it on the streets.  A must see.

Transsiberian: Directed and co-written by Brad Anderson, who also directed that great haunting film The Machinist.  This is an action film, which is why I first hesitated to view it.  I just don’t watch much action, it doesn’t really get me going.  But hey, Harrelson was in it, Ben Kingsley (whom I adore) and the lovely Emily Mortimer.  Simple plot, really, American husband and wife are traveling on the Transsiberian railway and are unwittingly

Woody Harrelson and Emily Mortimer, Transsiberian, 2008

befriended by smugglers…  Kingsley is a cop.  Action ensues.  What I love about Harrelson in this film was how straight laced, naive and nerdy he was, in that normal kind of way.  Mortimer is a reformed wild one, which is pretty contradictory to most, maybe even all, roles she plays.

The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio:  Ahh, this has been on my to-watch list for so long, and the whole time it was there I had no idea Julianne Moore and Harrelson were in it.  I just knew the plot and held off on viewing it because it seemed like it would be a hit or a miss.  It’s a hit.  And surprisingly based on life, which I usually cannot

Julianne Moore and Woody Harrelson, The Prize Winner of Defiance, Ohio, 2005

stand viewing such things as the plots are usually too cropped to really create decent viewing experience.  Moore is a housewife in the 50’s, married to an alcoholic Harrelson, and they produce a whole lot of children.  So many that she takes up the art of prize winning to help support the costs of raising the family, contests were seemingly a dime a dozen back in those days.  The characters are beautifully played by all, a nice little treat of a film. Directed and co-written by Jane Anderson.

So, reader, I do believe I have left you with an ample amount of homework, wouldn’t you say?  Enjoy.

Piranha 3D Poster… look familiar?
August 14, 2010

So I keep seeing the poster for Piranha 3D, the remake of the classic cult 1978 film Piranha.  My first response is always to the visual – Jaws?  It takes me a minute to scroll down to the title, at which point I think to myself, “Really, they are now remaking this classic?  [Loud sigh]”

Piranha 3D (2010), Jaws (1975), Piranha (1978)

I have fond memories of the 1978 original Piranha.  I mean, it may have come out the year I was born, but I still viewed many times in my youth.  I just don’t understand the need to remake it, such as the remake of Romero’s Dawn of the Dead…  why touch a classic?  So I decided to watch the trailer, which transformed my thoughts this order:  JawsPiranhaJaws, Piranha and Tremors?

So the question remains for myself:  To see or not to see…  I feel obligated to see it, despite how campy it looks, I mean, it looks lame campy as opposed to fun campy.  My fingers are crossed for a reaction of pleasantly surprised, not horridly disappointed.  My fingers are crossed for your same reaction, I wish you luck.  I feel like viewers will need it.