Rescue Dawn (2006) – Despite the great reviews this movie received, I feel the need to disagree a bit. The first thing is that it starts off and feels like a made for tv movie with a larger budget. The second thing is how unbelievably trite and cliché the dialog also is. I understand this was “based” on a true story however, how much of it being based on the Dieter Dengler story is highly suspect according to some other sites dedicated to exposing what was truth and what was fictionalized to make for a more interesting movie. Again despite whatever may have been added for dramatic effect, the result is a painfully slow movie where you get to see Christian Bale sling another accent (don’t get me wrong I love Christian Bale as much as a hetero-sexual guy can) while rapidly losing weight a la Machinist, albeit all in one movie. Steve Zahn (an actor I’m sort of ambivalent too, but was leaning toward liking), dials in a somewhat typical performance as a POW who’s been in captivity for too long. Yes it may be based on a true story, but do you really *need* to see it? Probably not. Very difficult to recommend this movie unless you are a Christian Bale fan, even then its still difficult to watch him labor through this.
No Country for Old Men (2007) – Unlike Rescue Dawn above, despite the rave reviews, I found this movie extremely compelling. Based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy, No Country for Old Men is ultimately about good vs. evil. In this case the protagonist appears to be Josh Brolin, a hunter who stumbles across a lot of dead bodies and a bag of cash. Confident he can stash the money or otherwise defend himself from whoever might be after the money, he takes it and unwittingly jeopardizes the lives closest to him. Jarvier Bardem plays the cold blooded yet methodical psychopath who has been sent to retrieve the money. He carries with him a “cattle gun” which is basically an air compressor with a hand piece that shoots out and retracts a bar of metal. These guns were used to kill cattle originally yet Bardem uses them to kill unlucky townspeople he comes across while trying to find Brolin. The third party is Tommy Lee Jones who plays an aging sheriff who is trying to find both of them but mostly Brolin, so he can hopefully contain the body count that is rising as a result of the cat and mouse game between Bardem and Brolin. One of the striking things I didn’t realize while watching is/was how unlikable Brolin as your supposed good guy. He is cocky in the sense that he thinks he’s going to get away from Bardem despite their encounters. The other is that we get to know more about Bardem as Chigurh and all his nuances, much more so than we get to know Brolin. Many people that have seen this movie say the ending is anti-climactic if not entirely unconventional. It is however the negative reviews I’ve seen almost entirely fault the movie for this. They seem to disregard that it is ultimately based on a work of fiction from almost 30 years ago as well. People who dislike something will always find a reason, and negative reviews for this movie obviously show that. I will not say this movie is a masterpiece or anything like that. For what it is, I enjoyed the movie, the direction and acting was well done, and the story was presented in a compelling manner. I don’t think it deserves the accolades that many are heaping on it (partly I think are fueling the negative almost retaliatory reviews), but I certainly think that if you like movies you should watch it.