Holiday weekends are for going to the movies

I had two very different but equally awesome experiences this weekend, so allow me to make some recommendations.

First, the movie I’ve been counting down to since reading its first reviews from Cannes back in May: the Coen brothers’ No Country for Old Men. There’s probably no need for me to do a proper review for this movie; I’ll just say that I agree with the 95% of critics calling it their finest film, and give it my sadly imaginary vote for best picture this year. (No matter though, I think it will win without any help from me.) There was not a single detail of this movie that I would change if I had the power. Especially notable given my recent complaint about American Gangster was the total lack of background music. This helped the movie reach a level of intensity and suspense that reminded me of classic Hitchcock such as Rear Window or Notorious (I can give no higher praise than to compare something to Notorious). It also seemed to allow a strange level of freedom in the editing process: no need for an awkward insert shot to show the audience how much money is being counted out, because we can hear each crisp hundred dollar bill; no need to cut outside of the hotel room to show how close the villian approaches, as his every footstep echoes. The Coens are insanely good at the technical aspects of filmmaking, and when they hit it out the park this hard with their screenplay and casting choices, I don’t think any other American filmmaker matches them. See this movie in a crowded theater if you can, it only adds to the suspense to share it with a couple hundred other equally enthralled people.

My other movie-going experience this weekend also involved what is regarded as the best film from a celebrated writer-director, though it was hardly a new release. SIFF Cinema was screening Charlie Chaplin’s 1931 comedy City Lights, which I had never seen. I have a huge soft spot for silent movies, and they really should be viewed on a big screen. I thought the movie was just as delightful as I’d always heard it was, but the really interesting thing to me was the reaction of a probably four-year-old girl sitting near me: she was utterly absorbed. She demanded that her mom read her every intertitle (there were mercifully few; cute though she was, she was not quiet) and she laughed at the sequences of physical comedy. It made me wish that more parents would introduce their children to these kinds of movies, since many of them are as universally appealing as cartoons. The famous boxing sequence in City Lights could have been remade without a single change into a Bugs Bunny short. In general I wish more people gave silent movies a chance. This one is a good starting point for anyone who wants to.

One last recommendation: the movie I raved about all summer, the late Adrienne Shelley’s lovely Waitress, comes out on DVD today. Rent it rent it rent it.


1 Response to “Holiday weekends are for going to the movies”

  1. 1 Tom W December 1, 2007 at 2:55 pm

    Agree completely, No Country for Old Men was fantastic. Hopefully it wins best picture.

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