Thursday, April 15, 2010

"Enduring Love?" comments by Andy

Wasn't sure why the title is what it is until the end of the movie. I honestly had no idea what the movie was about before watching the film.

Stalkers are fun, aren't they? I almost always hate stalker films for many of the same reasons that I was so critical of the character in "Julia." Victims of stalkers almost never avail themselves of the appropriate tools to deal with their stalkers. Such is true of Joe, although I was very glad to see Joe's willingness to deal with the situation when push finally came to shove.

I think what makes "Enduring Love" such a brilliant stalking film is that if you don't know anything about the movie ahead of time, you aren't immediately aware that you are watching a stalker film. Rhys Ifans is absolutely fabulous as Jed, and Jed is just about as creepy as you can get and still be believable. He was instantly off-putting when asking Joe to pray.

My only concern with the movie was that it seemed rather slow. I appreciate a good drama, but I don't understand how the film could feel so long without spending any real time explaining how Joe's relationship devolved so terribly over time. And the curtain reference seemed a little thin to me. Why was his girlfriend so unreceptive to his midnight theory anyway?

Daniel Craig is a pro.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Up, Up and Away

by Jason Pyles

“Enduring Love” is another odd little film in the neighborhood of “All the Little Animals.” It’s sort of surprising that it was ever made, but I suppose I’m glad it was.

It has one of the most intriguing curtain-raisers I’ve ever seen in a film. As far as inciting incidents go, this one takes the cake. It has to do with a hot air balloon accident. In case anyone reading this hasn’t seen it and plans to, I won’t discuss it here. But I must say that the filmmakers did a great job filming the scene; it must have been a logistical challenge.

Unfortunately, “Enduring Love” has the second-act blues, where it sags badly in the middle. If only the balloon accident figured into the story more. Actually, that’s not the story at all; it’s a story of stalking and obsession.

In addition to the balloon scene, there’s a deeply creepy scene in the middle of the film, where a man is sitting on a playground in the rain. It’s truly chilling. Also, there’s a heart-stopping scene toward the end that is absolutely horrifying. These three moments make this unusual film worth seeing, just for their ability to give us such troubling cinematic experiences.

Otherwise, “Enduring Love” lulls and lulls. It took me three nights to watch it, because I kept falling asleep during the long second act. This is no reflection, of course, on the wonderful performances given by Daniel Craig (the new 007) and Rhys Ifans, who is probably best known for his role as the terrible roommate in “Notting Hill.” More recently he played in “The Boat That Rocked” aka “Pirate Radio,” once again, alongside Bill Nighy, who is also in “Enduring Love.”

I don’t know that I’ve seen any other film with a similar usage of a hot air balloon. It reminded me of a real-life horror story I once heard: I have a friend whose father worked at an upscale, rural resort. If I remember correctly, they knew a hot air balloon instructor there, and he was giving a lesson or something. I guess a kid was in the balloon and for one reason or another, the instructor was outside the balloon and it started taking off, so the instructor dutifully and bravely held onto the the outside of the basket and ended up dying from being beaten to death as he was dragged through the tree-tops. Awful.

Every year (while living in Utah), my family enjoys attending the hot air balloon show that’s part of the Freedom Festival in Provo, around the Fourth of July. Standing among those giants is truly awe-inspiring, but it reinforces my decision not to ride in one. And now “Enduring Love” pretty much seals the deal.

"Overnight" comments by Andy

Troy Duffy is a douche. He's probably going to google his own name and read this blog. Frankly, I don't care. What a tool!!!!

"Overnight" was fascinating. It's not common for me to be so enthralled and enraged at the same time. The documentary was fascinating on two levels - one as an inside look into how things work in Hollywood, and second as how amazingly arrogant and stupid Troy Duffy is in blowing his deal.

Hollywood is fickle and finicky. A lot of promises are given and broken - lives made and then suddenly shattered. Also, it's extremely political; piss off or on the wrong person and it could get you blacklisted like a communist during McCarthy. Troy Duffy is a perfect example of what NOT to do if you find yourself suddenly in the limelight because Harvey Weinstein takes an interest in your film.

Did anyone even see "Boondock Saints?" My first question should be why did Mr. Weinstein even like "Boondock Saints?" It was really a stupid film without an impressive plot, or any real character development, cinematography, or violence. It seemed on par with a mediocre first attempt at film-making. I don't know what the fuss was all about. Honestly, far too many F words and otherwise stupid dialogue for me to really enjoy watching it. How did he even get a sequel? Why did the sequel suck so badly too???

Anyway, thanks Troy Duffy for reminding me that even total douche bags catch unbelievably awesome breaks and still find a way to screw it up! Your brother was right - you lost sight of it. You really should have focused more on the band.

Oh, and by the way, Mr. Duffy, if you do read this, feel free to respond and offer counter-argument. Andy is my real name...

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Troy Duffy and Overnight

by Jason Pyles

Troy Duffy. Ah, I haven’t seen such a good villain in a documentary since Billy Mitchell in “The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters,” which by the way, is an absolute must-see, whether you like video games or not. And if you have any interest in the drama found behind the scenes in the filmmaking business, “Overnight” is also a must-see.

For those who don’t know, Troy Duffy is the writer-director of “The Boondock Saints” and its sequel, “The Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day,” both of which have a cult following comparable to the “Twilight” enthusiasts. Therefore, I am prepared, since this post is vulnerably exposed on the Internet, for The Great Defenders to ensure that I don’t say anything negative about the objects of their affection. Indeed, Troy Duffy himself might happen upon this post and light up the comments section with expletives and other intelligent colorful metaphors. So be it.

Comment away, of course, but please answer this: What’s the story behind Troy Duffy’s writing of “The Boondock Saints,” and how did Harvey Weinstein ever come to read his script? I’d just like to know how this all came about. I like Smith & Montana’s film, but I only wish it explained the preliminary connections that preceded the footage found in the film.

I mean, “The Boondock Saints” is OK — entertaining, to be sure — but like Roger Ebert, I wonder why Harvey Weinstein was initially so taken with Duffy. Or was he? I mean, we only hear Duffy’s version of the story, so perhaps he never was this golden boy that he suggests.

And by the way, was it his first script? How many drafts did he write? Where did he learn screenwriting? I’m so intrigued by Duffy’s process, because he doesn’t seem like a writer. He’s like a kid I knew in grade school named John C. There was an art contest in which he entered a perfectly drawn rainbow trout. Everybody knew he didn’t draw it, but he still won the contest, anyway. (What could the judges do?) Now, I’m not saying Duffy didn’t write his scripts, I’m just saying I’m surprised that he did. As Andy has mentioned, we can definitely see from the movies themselves that these scripts come from Duffy.

In any event, film deals fall through all the time in Hollywood. Projects commonly go into turnaround and suffer in Development Hell. But I think it’s apparent from this documentary — even if it is “selectively edited” — that Duffy sunk his own ship. He shot himself in the foot with his own hubris. I’m not here to judge Duffy or talk smack about him; it’s just the only conclusion I can draw after seeing this film.

Undoubtedly, as we see in the film, the directors Tony Montana and Mark Brian Smith arguably had reason to edit this film in such a way that it cast Duffy in an unfavorable light. I mean, who knows, maybe they had footage of Duffy saving a puppy from the road or helping old ladies across the street, but I doubt it. Duffy exposes himself in this film.

Still, there are moments when these filmmakers are, themselves, vulnerable under the scrutinizing eye of the camera lens, but to their credit, they include those moments, and I respect them for that.

The most tragic character in the film, to me, was Troy’s brother, Taylor, who truly seems to live for their band, and at one point has a heart-felt talk with his brother that falls on deaf ears, incurring more wrath.

But hey, again, I’m not here to judge Troy Duffy. I’ll judge his films and call them OK. Willem Dafoe steals the show — and in fact, is the show — in the first film. The second suffers without him, though Clifton Collins Jr. is a fine character actor whom I admire. His performance in the second movie makes it worth seeing.

In “The Boondock Saints” films, before the saints execute their victims, they recite a prayer and speak in scriptural tongue. Well, after watching “Overnight,” I can comfortably say Troy Duffy’s saints should recite Proverbs 16: 18 to him, which reads:

Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.

Still, I must admit, I hope Troy Duffy keeps making films. He does have some talent. I’m curious to see what else he can do.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Julia" - comments by Andy

I hate movies like "Julia." The acting is so well done that I'm forced to actually pay attention to the movie's plot. And I hate stories like "Julia."

I don't hate the story about falling-down alcoholic reaches rock bottom and has to make a change. I don't hate the story about slightly-psychotic mother trying to get her kid back. What I hate is incompetent criminality.

How do you lose a gun in the middle of the road? Julia was obviously an idiot, but that much? Why would you bring the other million with you for the hand-off? Who trusts an over-friendly local enough to sleep with him (and subsequently lose your bounty (the kid) while you are sleeping off a hang-over)? I thought for a moment I was going to like her when she blew Miguel away. After that she was a raging idiot, pure and simple. I almost don't even care that things work out for her and Tom.

Boy though, I'll bet that if Tilda Swinton hadn't won an Oscar the year before for "Michael Clayton," she might have been nominated for "Julia." Powerful stuff. I especially thought her portrayal of drunk Julia (pre-kidnapping) was top-notch. I could genuinely feel her hitting rock-bottom.

And I will say this about the film - several times during the film I caught myself making sure my little girl was still playing in her room. Of course, if needed (god forbid...), I hope that I would have the mental fortitude and skill-set to approach the situation less like Julia Harris, and more like Brian Mills (Liam Neeson) in "Taken."