03 February 2009

Two Blurbs: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford

I have only one minute left in my office hours, then I get to go home and eat and do lots and lots of work to prepare for tomorrow. So I'll be writing two blurbs, rather than two reviews.

The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) was pretty entertaining, but it also made me wistful. The movie is child-like in its naive hope that the peoples of the Earth might learn to live without violence (well, the movie does admit that even the galaxy's most advanced civilizations live without violence only because a race of destructo-warriers would obliterate them if they used violence, so maybe it's not so naive after all...). That made the movie fun, but also sad given the state of the world 58 years after the movie's original release.

The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford (2007) isn't terrible, but it really is pretty boring. In fact, I started watching it somewhat late one night, and I couldn't finish it because I needed to sleep. That never happens to me. It's just so laconic in its pacing, and the fact that we know the ending does more to sap our interest than create tension or suspense. Some of the performances are decent, including Brad Pitt's, but the movie feels like it's trying to be Jim Jarmusch but with extremely conventional material. In lieu of any real innovation, the cinematographer uses extremely narrow focus from time to time or some other technical distortion, but it just doesn't signify. Ho hum.

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