Took me 4 years to discover the awesomeness of being In Bruges!

(2008)

WOW!  I loved In Bruges!  This film is the perfect combination of a dark, human comedy and  an emotional character study.  Brilliant!  Now, I understand the excitement for writer/director Martin McDonagh‘s next film Seven Psychopaths and will wait anxiously for its 2012 release.

It is hard for movies to surprise me.  Without trying, I usually see connections and predict possibilities, but McDonagh kept me in the dark for most of this narrative, which allowed for small unexpected awesomeness!   What appears to be a typical tale about two professional hitmen in hiding in the city of Bruges in Belgium, awaiting their gangster boss’ instructions, turns out to be an intricate narrative with layers of depth and meaning.  McDonagh’s direction is tight and lean–there are no wasted or unnecessary shots, which keeps the pace brisk and energetic. 

The cast is perfect!  Colin Farrell can be hit and miss with me, but he is dead on as the younger of the hitmen.  This is the kind of performance that makes you sad when you see him wasting his talent on unworthy crap.  C’mon Colin!  No more crap, please.  (I did love his turn in Fright Night  last year–so maybe things are looking up)  Then you have the often overlooked brilliance of Brendan Gleeson  as the older hitmen (if you haven’t seen The Guard–make that happen! It is great).  Round it off with the genius that is Ralph Fiennes, as the cranky and hilarious boss and you have magic.  And as we all know–magic on-screen can be a rare phenomenon.  It was also clever to use the city of Bruges purposefully, so that it too, becomes another interesting character–“It’s like a f-ing fairy tale!”

So, rent it, put it in your Netflix queue, Redbox it, whatever you have to do…but if you, like me, have waited to watch this–put it on your must see list.  And if you’ve already enjoyed it –you can just sit back and say, DUH! 🙂

Check out the official website:

Focus Films In Bruges

 

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Bullhead–a story about bulls, steroids and one troubled man…

Who knew when Bullhead screened at Fantastic Fest last year that it would end up being Oscar nominated for Best Foreign Film?  Well, Tim League‘s Drafthouse Films knew it was good and decided to acquire the rights to distribute the film in the US and now… BAM!  I love Alamo Drafthouse and because of that, I will be rooting for a win come The Oscars on Sunday night.  But, that will not be hard to do because it also happens to be pretty damn good movie.

This Belgian drama is written and directed by Michaël R. Roskam  and he is definitely one to watch.  I am sure some more good stuff will be coming from this guy.  He has an interesting style and is capable of creating atmosphere with little dialogue.   A little anecdote: During Fantastic Fest we had tickets to watch Bullhead, but decided to attend the only screening of You’re Next (which is awesome & will come out later this year) and my daughter, by chance sat next to Roskam.  They started a pleasant conversation in which she mentioned that we were wanting and planning to watch Bullhead, but had switched–Roskam then proceeded to tell her that Bullhead was his movie!  He then conceded that it was pretty heavy and intense–which is why he was sitting next to her and not at his own movie screening.  😀  Pretty funny.  Now, he is Oscar nominated–bet he did not see that coming.  Nice. 

This story covers a lot of ground.  Hormone mafia–steroids–police informants–betrayal–bullies–and tragedy.  But, the film really works because of its star, Matthias Schoenaerts.  Schoenaerts is mesmerizing.  You are drawn to his deep sadness–his mental turmoil.  It is a strong performance.  There a many themes throughout–the most apparent is the comparison of animals and man–and he reminds you of an animal, a bull, to be more direct.  A mass of muscle and strength with the potential of great raw power–just standing there…waiting to be unleashed. 

My only minor complaint is the time.  If it were 30 minutes shorter, it may have been a bit tighter in pacing.  It almost seems to have too much time to build and the climate then feels like it loses some of its power.  But, that is a personal opinion and it does not take anything away from the film. 

Unfortunately, it may not be in a theater near you–so keep your eyes out for rental possibilities.  And if you want, go ahead and cheer for it to win the Oscar–it is a worthy choice!