The Brothers Bloom....
The confidence game movie has been a Hollywood mainstay for years. It has all the inherent shady characters, plot twists and aha! moments built right into it. When they're great, they're fantastic (The Sting, The Spanish Prisoner, etc.) and even if the film makers don't quite pull it off, at worst, the confidence flick is an engaging time-waster. The Brothers Bloom falls into this second category. Not great, but not terrible and easy to digest. Recommend it to the Friday night white-bread crowd and you won't get any complaints (except Kris and only on his Monday FBW shifts).
There are a couple of quasi-spoilers from here on in so if you want to watch TBB, stop here.
The frustrating part about The Brothers Bloom becomes apparent about half an hour in. For whatever reason, the setting seems to be 1948 and yet it isn't – the film is set in the present day. Why? Everyone dresses in '50s-era clothing, takes steamers across the Atlantic and trains across Europe and beyond Rachel Weiss crashing her 2008 Lamborghini several times, there doesn't seem to be any reason not to set the film in the past. Donna said it felt like the art director was making a different movie from everyone else. A dark and dangerous conman/mentor from the brother's past shows up in the second act named Diamond Dog and writer/director Rian Johnson tips his hand as a bit of an amateur (his first feature Brick, had some heavy handed bits of over-direction too). Here is a character we not only don't need to see, but shouldn't. His menace would have been far more effective if we were to imagine him. Instead we get a cartoon bad guy played by Maximilian Schell (!) and it takes away from the final product. All that said, this is still a pleasant enough film. It could have been better but that's the way the cookie crumbles.
A side comment about Mark Ruffulo. I think he's one of the best actors working today but he can't seem to land that plum role that takes him to the next level. Rachel Weiss, another terrific actor seems to have the same problem. Strange that they ended up working in the same film.
And now the gloom.....
For my Halloween movie pick this week, it's Village of the Damned from 1960. Nine months after a mysterious alien force knocks out/up every resident of Midwich, all the women give birth to near-identical kids — an army of blond, seemingly well-mannered, Hitler youth children who grow quickly, have glowing eyes, and can bend the wills of adults telepathically. Sound familiar? Creepy children (like there's any other kind), a slightly laughable but utterly effective plot and the hilarious (albeit accidental) parallels to Roncesvalles Village (of the Damned) make this a worthy look-see.
Lastly, also in honour of Halloween, I have a recent personal story to pass along. Last week I was trying to cut some giant weed/little trees out back at Segredos and went inside to grab a kitchen cleaver to hack them down. After I got done, I set the cleaver on the top of the Focus and promptly forgot about it. That night I was wandering down to the FBW and as I slowed to stop at the Lansdowne/Bloor intersection, the clever slid off the roof, onto and across the hood of the car and landed with a huge clanking racket at the foot of a dozen or so pedestrians crossing at the light. Having a 7” meat cleaver slide off a car and land at your feet is a strange occurrence (even for that corner) but even more awkward is getting out of the car to retrieve it. I considered briefly trying to explain the whole weed cutting story but thought the better of it and just got back in the car with my cleaver and drove off.
Afterward, I wondered how that story got relayed on by the witnesses and imagined it embellished and growing into an urban legend of sorts about some madman in a Ford Focus with meat cleavers shooting out at corners and killing innocent young urbanites. Maybe Romero could do the film. I'm thinking something along the lines of Beaver Cleaver for a title.